Huizenga Calls on Congress to Strengthen Its Commitment to the Great Lakes by Addressing Erosion Concerns and Combating Asian Carp
Yesterday, in testimony before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Congressman Bill Huizenga (MI-02) laid out how Congress can take a leadership role in addressing Great Lakes erosion, protecting the Great Lakes from Asian carp by moving forward on the Brandon Road project, and preserving the Great Lakes for future generations. As Co-Chair of the Great Lakes Task Force, Congressman Huizenga has been leading a bipartisan effort to strengthen the Great Lakes and make them a national priority.
This is a great opportunity for this committee to allow Members of Congress to come and talk about the issues in their Congressional District. As we meet today, the current state of erosion and high-water damage is at a crisis point throughout the Great Lakes region. In my district, along the shores of Lake Michigan, the high-water levels are a threat to people’s homes, public infrastructure, and the overall ecology and economy of the Great Lakes.
As we continue to see the shoreline erode and the water levels rise government at all levels must be prepared to step in. Whether it is roads, bridges, breakwaters, or wastewater treatment facilities, the potential for damage due to high-water levels is grave and real. Furthermore, the amount of debris that has fallen into the lakes as a result of this erosion also poses a significant threat to shipping, public beaches, and recreational boating.
As the committee develops the Water Resources Development Act of 2020, I urge the members to include provisions that would protect and restore the resiliency of the Great Lakes shoreline for today, tomorrow, and generations to come.
On Asian Carp & Brandon Road
Additionally, I am also here today because of Asian carp. As the Republican Co-Chair of the Great Lakes Task Force, this is something we have been keeping an eye on for a number of years. Asian carp and other invasive species are on the doorstep of infiltrating the Great Lakes system.
The importance of protecting our vulnerable Great Lakes freshwater system from this disastrous invasive species cannot be overstated. In fact, the introduction of non-native species to the Great Lakes is currently one of the greatest economic and environmental threats to our region. The preventative measures we currently have in place are only temporary solutions, as Asian carp have been found only a few miles from Lake Michigan.
The Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Illinois has been identified as the key choke point in safeguarding our Great Lakes ecosystem and economy. The timely completion of the work at Brandon Road is an essential next step in the process to safeguard the Great Lakes region which provides drinking water to over 30 million people and supports a $7 billion fishing and $16 billion boating industry. We have a small but critical window of opportunity to prevent the upstream transfer of this species
In 2019, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers delivered its Chief’s Report on the Brandon Road Lock and Dam project to Congress. The lock is a logical point to install both structural and non-structural control measures to prevent movement into the lake.
Additionally in conversations with President Trump directly, he has expressed his support for protecting and preserving the Great Lakes for future generations and the Brandon Road project. So, I am loving to see the Congressional and White House cooperation.
Congress needs to make protecting and preserving the Great Lakes a national priority. It can do this by authorizing this project through WRDA so the control measures can be implemented with the necessary urgency. Further delay only increases the likelihood that this threat becomes full scale and irreversible with this highly destructive invasive species.
On Great Lakes Infrastructure
Finally, I would like to thank the committee for your work to maintain the harbors, ports, and navigation channels around our nation from the coasts to the Great Lakes.
These harbors and channels are a vital part of our nation’s transportation infrastructure and a reduction in their capacity can have significant impacts on local communities.
Our identity in West Michigan is directly tied to the Great Lakes and I appreciate Congress’ willingness to support it.