MADISON — Clean Wisconsin today praised the U.S. Congress and President Barack Obama for passing an economic recovery package that puts people to work by restoring the Great Lakes. The bill contains $107,864,636 to help Wisconsin modernize wastewater infrastructure to prevent sewage contamination.

“This bill is good for Wisconsin. It puts people to work and restores our Great Lakes Michigan and Superior,” said Melissa Malott, Water Program Director of Clean Wisconsin. “More work needs to be done, but this is an important step forward for our economy and for restoring the Great Lakes.”

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides $4 billion to upgrade wastewater infrastructure nationally through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. By formula, about $1.45 billion will go to the Great Lakes. Wisconsin stands to gain more than $107 million, creating more than 3,700 jobs.

“These investments will put people to work now, restore Great Lakes Michigan and Superior, and lay the foundation for long-term economic gains for Wisconsin” said Emily Green, Director of the Sierra Club Great Lakes Program. “This sets the stage for Congress and the Obama Administration to fulfill President Obama’s commitment to create a $5 billion fund to restore the lakes and revive our economy.”

The Brookings Institution estimates that the people and communities of the Great Lakes region stand to gain $50 billion of economic benefit by investing $26 billion now to restore the lakes. That is a net gain of $24 billion from increases in tourism, the fishing industry, recreational activity and home values. In addition, the states would see at least $30 billion in short-term economic activity.

Restoring the Great Lakes will bring economic gains to Milwaukee of between $1.5 to 2.3 billion.

“We look forward to working with Congress and the Obama Administration to put people to work now by restoring one America’s greatest natural resources—the Great Lakes,” said Malott, “because an unhealthy Great Lakes cannot support a healthy economy.”

Antiquated wastewater infrastructure releases more than 23 billion gallons of sewage into the Great Lakes every year, causing more than 2,700 days of beach closures annually, threatening public health and harming the region’s outdoor recreation economy. It impacts the quality of life for millions of people and limits the ability of the region to lure new businesses, industries and talented workforce.

The EPA estimates that the nation must invest $390 billion over the next 20 years to update or replace existing systems and build new ones to meet increasing demand. The nation’s backlog in addressing its wastewater infrastructure led the American Society of Civil Engineers to give the nation the grade of D- in assessing the country’s wastewater infrastructure in a January 2009 report.

State

Funding under Clean Water SRF formula

Jobs created

Illinois

$180,450,756

6,246

Indiana

$96,158,977

3,331

Michigan

$171,558,237

5,933

Minnesota

$73,334,714

2,533

New York

$440,398,343

15,268

Ohio

$224,617,851

7,807

Pennsylvania

$158,048,070

5,482

Wisconsin

$107,864,636

3,747

Total

$1.45 billion

50,347

*Funding estimate comes from Congressional Research Service. Job estimate of 34,700 jobs per $1 billion dollars of infrastructure investment comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation.