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Federal Partners Highlight Collaboration and Successes on Key Water Issues in Cleveland

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WASHINGTON (October 7, 2020) — Today, in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Region 5 Administrator Kurt Thiede kicked off a day of events attended by senior leaders from each of the primary federal agencies that oversee national water policy. Throughout the remainder of the day, members of the “Water Subcabinet” attended several events and continued to efficiently and effectively coordinate on strategic water topics. Together, these engagements provided an opportunity to highlight achievements and discuss further progress to advance vital water protections and better protect public health and the environment in northern Ohio, Lake Erie, and the Great Lakes.

“Fifty years ago, no one would have believed that we could clean up and restore heavily polluted local rivers around Cleveland, but we have,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “With close collaboration at the federal, state, and local level, we can continue this progress to better protect public health and the environment in this vital area.”

“I was proud to join Administrator Wheeler, a fellow Buckeye, in Northeast Ohio this morning to make several important announcements that impact our region and highlight the progress we’ve made – as well as our ongoing efforts – to restore and protect the Great Lakes,” said Congressman Dave Joyce, Co-Chair of the House Great Lakes Task Force. “As someone who grew up on Ohio’s north coast, I know that the Great Lakes are not only a national treasure and economic powerhouse, but also one of our country’s greatest natural resources. It is critical that we continue to do all we can to keep the lakes clean for the millions of Americans who depend on them and preserve them for future generations to enjoy.”  

“EPA has worked hard to cultivate powerful partnerships at the federal level by coordinating with the Water Subcabinet and with states like Ohio,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross. “In Ohio, the federal government has a great partner that is working with us to reduce excess nutrients in surface waters, implement actions that better protect Lake Erie from marine debris and invasive species, and analyze wastewater to improve information on COVID-19.”

Following last week’s announced Completion of Actions Under the Presidential Memorandum on Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West, the Water Subcabinet gathered in Cleveland for several events, including a roundtable with the state of Ohio, a tour of U.S. Geological Survey vessel Kiyi, a business meeting, and a tour of a local farm. Each of these engagements included notable highlights and productive discussions on how to advance our partnerships, tools, and data to better protect Ohio’s surface waters. The Water Subcabinet also learned more about Ohio’s H2Ohio initiative—a comprehensive, data-driven approach to improving water quality while focusing on reducing phosphorus, creating wetlands, addressing failing septic systems, and preventing lead contamination.

“Providing safe and reliable water is a priority for the Trump Administration, and we are delivering infrastructure and regulatory reform using sound science, technology and research,” said Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary of Water and Science Dr. Tim Petty. “The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative brings the federal government into direct and focused response to the needs of the state and local communities, like many here in Ohio and across the region, to address their biggest needs and achieve their priority goals. The Department of the Interior’s bureaus are actively engaged on the ground across the region to conserve and manage natural and cultural resources, and to provide the scientific information critical for the benefit and opportunity of the American people.”

“Conservation in agriculture is a team effort,” said USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey. “Partnerships across federal agencies enable us to have a bigger impact on things like water quality, here in Ohio and across the country, that benefits farmers, the public, and our nation’s natural resources.”

“Water is a critical resource for energy production, human health, agricultural productivity, and the U.S. economy,” said U.S. Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel R Simmons. “Our collaboration with other federal agencies through the Water Subcabinet, including on the Water Security Grand Challenge, has accelerated our work to enable American water security.”

“Strong partnerships deliver stronger projects. Across the Great Lakes partners are pooling resources to attack challenges head on, emphasizing the importance of whole government working together,” said USACE Great Lakes and Ohio River Division Regional Business Director Joseph Savage. “Funding provided by the Environmental Protection Agency through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is being combined with the Corps of Engineers' Civil Works mission to rebuild Great Lakes infrastructure that will facilitate economic growth, improves quality of water and life, and boost environmental health for the American people.”

“USGS values its Great Lakes partnerships with other federal agencies, tribes, and the states, including Ohio,” said USGS Director Dr. James F. Reilly.  “We are proud to provide the scientific information and assistance needed by managers in Ohio and across the basin to make informed decisions related to harmful algal blooms, hypoxia, and other Great Lakes water quality, fishery, and invasive species issues.”