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EPA awards grants for Detroit-area water cleanup

via flickr.com

The US Environmental Protection Agency has awarded more than $2 million in grants to Detroit-area water restoration projects.

These grants will go to four Metro Detroit projects. They include efforts to reduce toxins in the Rouge and Detroit rivers, and to eliminate e. coli sources near Macomb County beaches.

Congressman John Dingell says those projects represent “indispensable investments. But he notes that in a tough fiscal environment, “We’re going to have a difficult time defending” them.

“Because there’s a lot of people down there in Washington and up in Lansing who know the cost of everything, and who know the value of nothing.”

Dingell and other supporters  say the money is worth it, because the lakes form the basis of Michigan’s economy and quality of life.

The projects are centered around the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair. They focus on cleaning up toxic hotspots, fighting invasive species, and preventing polluted run-off.

The Huron Clinton Metropark Authority received the single-largest grant—$1 million—to reduce stormwater runoff on a Macomb County beach.

EPA Senior Advisor Cameron Davis says that will be a “green infrastructure” project.

“Green infrastructure is basically using nature to purify water, instead of building expensive pipes and sewage treatment plants. It’s usually much cheaper, lasts longer, and has other side benefits such as creating habitat.”

The money comes from President Obama’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a $30 million grant package spread out over four years.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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