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The Great Lakes region is blessed with an abundance of water. But water quality, affordability, and aging water infrastructure are vulnerabilities that have been ignored for far too long. In this series, members of the Great Lakes News Collaborative, Michigan Public, Bridge Michigan, Great Lakes Now, The Narwhal, and Circle of Blue, explore what it might take to preserve and protect this precious resource. This independent journalism is supported by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Reps. Dingell, McClain propose $200 million bipartisan act to map Great Lakes

Vast forests keep Lake Superior's water quality high. But other Great Lakes are on the tipping point because of agriculture and urban sprawl.
Lester Graham
Michigan Public
Lake Superior and a forest

House Representatives Debbie Dingell, a Democrat, and Lisa McClain, a Republican, have introduced a bill to commit to exploring below the surface of the Great Lakes. The bipartisan Great Lakes Mapping Act would appropriate around $200 million to explore the lake beds and create high-resolution bathymetric maps.

The money would be go to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which would work with consultants to map the lake beds and release findings to the public.

In a statement, a spokesperson for NOAA said the agency looks forward to reviewing the bill, and that "a comprehensive understanding of the Lakes is fundamental to advancing science, building sustainable lake-related industries, informing decisions that balance lake uses, and enhancing the Nation’s prosperity and security."

Dingell and McClain touted the potential benefits of mapping the lakes in a statement. They said mapping will contribute to knowledge about marine habitats, inform shippers of possible dangers, and potentially uncover lost history buried at the bottom of the lakes.

McClain touted the Great Lakes’ contribution to the economy. She also said “investing in comprehensive Great Lakes exploration will offer Michigan and the U.S. an enhanced look at what these bodies of water offer and bring forth a new chapter of success and prosperity to the Great Lakes economy and beyond.”

Dingell said the mapping could help with conservation efforts. “Comprehensively exploring and mapping the Great Lakes will strengthen our understanding of their underwater environment so that we can better protect them and the many species they contain and continue to foster the economic prosperity they have supported for generations,” Dingell said in a statement.

A.J. Jones is a newsroom intern and graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Sources say he owns a dog named Taffy.
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