Making Waves
April 3, 2017
Correction: In a previously released version of this issue under the  Canadian Federal Budget Released  section, Environment and Climate Change Canada's freshwater protection budget was incorrectly listed as $470.5 million over 5 years. In fact, it is $70.5 million over 5 years.
In this edition of Making Waves:
Trump Administration Seeks Immediate Great Lakes Cuts
President Trump is seeking approximately $18 Billion in immediate cuts to the current federal budget to pay for increased defense spending and construction of the proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico.  This ask would result in an immediate $50 Million cut to current Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding and $30 Million from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Sea Grant program.  However, Congressional Appropriators have indicated that they will likely stick to the discretionary spending levels that were negotiated as part of a two-year budget agreement in 2015.

Canadian Federal Budget Released
Prime Minister Trudeau released his proposed 2017 federal budget on March 22, 2017.  The budget includes focus on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, specifically around addressing the threat of aquatic invasive species and toxic and nuisance algae.  The budget proposes $43.8 million over 5 years for Fisheries and Oceans Canada on aquatic invasive species like Asian carp and sea lamprey, for the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence and other waterways.  It also proposes $70.5 million over 5 years to Environment and Climate Change Canada to protect freshwater resources including the Great Lakes.  Efforts are to be focused on reducing toxic chemical pollutions, expanding cross government collaboration on water quality, biodiversity conservation, and improving collaboration with Indigenous People.  The budget also proposes investment in efforts to help communities with adaptation and climate resilience, support for research and development of clean energy, transportation and technology, support for National Marine Conservation Areas, and support for green infrastructure.  To read the budget plan, click here


Mayor Emanuel Announces Chicago Urban River Edges Idea Lab
Mayor Emanuel recently announced the launch of the Chicago Urban River Edges Idea Lab.  The Ideas Lab, a partnership between the city's Department of Planning and Development and the Metropolitan Planning Council, and supported by The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and Comcast, will engage architectural firms to develop design concepts for the Chicago riverfront.  This work supports the efforts of the Great Rivers Chicago visioning work, of which Cities Initiative Executive Director David Ullrich served on the expert resource group.  To learn more, click here.

Highland Park Beach Deemed Best Restored
Rosewood Park, an 11-acre park that includes a beach, located in Cities Initiative member city Highland Park, Illinois, was recently named one of America's Best Restored Beaches by the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association.  The Rosewood Beach restoration project was completed in 2015 and involved restoring beach, bluff and ravine ecosystems.  The restoration project was a partnership between the Park District of Highland Park and the US Army Corps of Engineers, with funding support from the federal Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration Program.  To learn more, click here.

The Compact Council hearing the challenge by the Cities Initiative to the approval of the Waukesha Diversion held oral argument on the case March 20, 2017 in Chicago.  Jill Hutchison of the law firm Jenner & Block presented very effectively for the Cities Initiative that the organization is an aggrieved party, that Waukesha has reasonable alternatives, that areas not part of the City of Waukesha are included in the service area, that the Root River would be damaged, and that procedures followed and standards applied by the Compact Council were inappropriate.  Waukesha argued that taking water from Lake Michigan is the best alternative for the City, and that no harm would be done as a result.  The Compact Council will meet on April 20, 2017 at 1:00 pm CDT and those interested in observing can do so by clicking hereThe Compact Council said they will make a decision the first week of May.

Canadian Draft Domestic Action Plan on Phosphorus Released
The Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario have released a draft action plan aimed to help reduce phosphorous entering Lake Erie and harmful algal blooms.  Under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, Canada and the U.S. are committed to finalizing domestic action plans to address phosphorus entering Lake Erie by February 2018.  Canada's draft plan outlines actions that can be taken by the governments of Canada and Ontario, municipalities, conservation authorities, indigenous communities, agriculture and business to achieve a 40% reduction in phosphorus entering Lake Erie.  A public comment period on the draft plan is open until May 9, 2017.  For more information, please click here.

Cities Initiatives Submits Comments on DGR
The Cities Initiative recently submitted comments regarding the additional information provided by Ontario Power Generation on the proposed Deep Geologic Repository in Kincardine, Ontario.  In the comments, the Cities Initiative recognized the efforts OPG has taken to improve the status of long-term radioactive waste.  However, the Cities Initiative maintains that a location must be picked for long-term radioactive waste management that reduces the risk of contamination to the people and waters of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence basin to the greatest extent possible. To read the comments, click here.

Show Your Solidarity for the Great Lakes at All Hands on Deck!
Consider joining the movement to raise awareness for the Great Lakes and the need for continued funding, research and regulation. All Hands on Deck, a citizen, grassroots effort, will take place on July 3 at 10am EDT on the shorelines of every community around the lakes, on land and in the water.  People will link hands on the beach and link boats on the water along the shorelines of the Great Lakes in every state and in Canada.  To learn more or become an event organizer in your city, email

Events & Webinars
Great Lakes Economic Forum
Network with business, government, and NGO leaders to shape economic, environmental and social policy and boost the region's competitive edge.
April 24 - 26, 2017
To learn more and register:
National Adaptation Forum
Forum for adaptation practitioners to share strategies, lessons, tools, and information through formal trainings, facilitated practitioner presentations, and informal exchange of information.

May 9-11, 2017
Saint Paul, Minnesota
To learn more and register here.
Untrouble the Waters: Freshwater Lab Summit 2017
A summit dedicated to bringing mayors, local leaders, and researchers together to envision and launch projects that benefit communities and watersheds alike.

May 10-11, 2017
University of Illinois - Chicago
Click here for more information.

Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Green Infrastructure Conference
Conference focused on using green infrastructure across the landscape with a primary goal to protect the surface waters in the Great Lakes region.
May 31 - June 2, 2017
Detroit, MI
Registration is not yet open but a preliminary conference overview and information are available here.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative - US Forest Service
The U.S. Forest Service anticipates that $3 million in new funds will be available for tree planting in the Great Lakes Basin. 

Application deadline: April 13, 2017
For more information and to apply click here.

Please join the 128 Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative members in protecting and restoring the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River by clicking here for a membership application. If you are already a member, please encourage your neighboring communities to join, and be sure to renew your membership when you receive your notice.  

If your municipality would like to share news with the Cities Initiative, please email information to Melissa Soline at