Making Waves
May 15, 2017
In this edition of Making Waves:
Welcome to Batiscan, Québec!
Please join the Cities Initiative staff in welcoming our newest member (and our 130th member!), Mayor Sonya Auclair of Batiscan, Québec!

Join us for the 2017 Annual Member Meeting and Conference this June 14 - 16, 2017 in Montreal, Quebec to explore how strategic partnerships advance Great Lakes and St. Lawrence protection and restoration, and benefit municipalities. Panel topics include Indigenous-municipal partnerships to advance water management, city to city partnerships to encourage municipal leadership, public private partnerships that succeed, intergovernmental collaboration to protect water resources, and strategic partnerships to advance action on climate change. To register, visit For those already registered, book your hotel before May 23 at:

U.S. Federal Great Lakes Budget Update
In early May, the US House and Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2017 omnibus bill, thus funding the US federal government through the end of FY 2017 (which ends on 9/30/17).  The bill maintains funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $300 Million, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund at $1.39 Billion and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund at $839 Million - all at the same levels as FY 2016.  Focus is now shifting to the FY 2018 budget process (FY 2018 beings on October 1, 2017).  We anticipate the President will release his budget proposal towards the end of May.  This full budget proposal is expected to include the significant cuts to Great Lakes funding, and agencies like the US EPA, that he proposed back in March.  Efforts to demonstrate the need for and importance of Great Lakes funding continue, especially as the House and Senate may move ahead on preparing their budget resolutions before any hearings on the President's budget proposal are even held.  
Stormwater management, reducing the threat of flooding, improved water and air quality, reducing combined sewer overflows, and more - these are a few of the myriad of benefits of green infrastructure.  Please join the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and partners as they host the inaugural Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Green Infrastructure Conference, May 31 - June 2, 2017 in Detroit, MI.  The conference will focus on using green infrastructure across the landscape with a primary goal of protecting the surface waters in the Great Lakes region.  The binational conference is geared towards engineers, landscape architects, water quality professionals, government officials (local, state, provincial, and federal), developers, planners, academia, drain and road agencies, conservation and non-profit organizations.  For more information and to register (hotel block expires May 9 and early bird registration end May 12), visit

Intense rainfall and snowmelt this spring have caused very high levels and flows in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River and their tributaries not seen since 1993, resulting in serious flooding, erosion, and property damage.  Many municipalities have declared states of emergency because of the flooding and erosion. The Cities Initiative is deeply concerned about the situation and would like to help those communities in need. It is clear that the changing climate and the resulting intense precipitation events are at the heart of the problem, and will require long term actions to mitigate and adapt to the conditions.  At this time, the immediate needs of the affected communities should be uppermost in everyone's mind.  Efforts to lay the blame with the International Joint Commission's Plan 2014 are misguided and unproductive.   Plan 2014 is the result of many years of rigorous work and meaningful consultations with Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River leaders from both Canada and the United States. This is a plan intended to benefit the people of both countries, both water bodies, and balance the needs of the ecosystem with those of the communities.  It is still in its very early stages of implementation.  Any call to turn back to the previous guidelines would be premature and would distract attention from the real problems and solutions.  If you have any questions, please contact David Ullrich at 312-301-4516 or

In a recent letter to the United States Steel Corporation, the Board of Directors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative urges greater transparency and increased safety and emergency preparedness measures following an April 11th hexavalent chromium spill at U.S. Steel's Portage facility. "Instead of hastily restarting production, U.S. Steel should have provided more information about what has been done to ensure future incidents will not occur, such as an independent review of facility operations and emergency response procedures" said the letter. In light of federal budget cuts, the letter also articulates support for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Region 5 office in Chicago. To read the full letter, click here.

Great Lakes Mayors Participate in Untrouble the Waters Summit
Cities Initiative member mayors Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee, Mayor John Dickert of Racine, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson of Gary, and Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson of Toledo participated in the Great Lakes Mayors and Leaders panel at the Untrouble the Waters Summit on May 10, 2017 at the University of Illinois - Chicago (see photo below). Mayor Marcus Muhammed of Benton Harbor, MI and former Mayor Hilliard Hampton of Inkster, MI also participated. The summit brought mayors, environmental leaders, academics, and researchers together to discuss issues impacting the Great Lakes basin and envision projects that benefit communities and watersheds alike. The mayors discussed challenges facing Great Lakes municipalities, including beach water quality, harmful algal blooms, aging water infrastructure, and lead drinking water pipelines. To see more photos from the event, visit our twitter page.

Canada and Ontario Extend Public Consultations on Draft Domestic Action Plan
The Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario extend the public comment period deadline until May 24, 2017 for the Draft Domestic Action Plan aimed at reducing phosphorus loads and algal blooms in Lake Erie. The governments of Canada and Ontario are asking for input from stakeholders and community members on the Plan, which can be viewed here: .  Send comments to or submit online here: .  

Events & Webinars
MSU Extension Water School: Essential Resources for Local Officials
A two-day program to provide local leaders with critical, relevant information needed to understand Michigan's water resources, including the fundamentals of water science, in order to support sound water management decisions and increase awareness of current and future local and state water issues.

May 22 - May 23, 2017
8:30 AM to 5 PM
Southfield, MI
For more information and to register:
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 and conference information available here.
Crude Move Symposium Oil Transportation Infrastructure, Economics, Risk, Hazards and Lessons Learned
Hosted by the Sea Grant Network, Great Lakes Commission and International Joint Commission, a meeting on the complexity of crude oil movement in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin and other critical northern watersheds.

June 8-9, 2017
Cleveland, OH
Click here for information and to register.

Register for the Annual Meeting
Registration is now open for the Cities Initiative 2017 Annual Meeting, to be held June 14-16, 2017 in Montréal, Québec.  Please visit our website  to register and for more information.  Register and book your hotel room soon as space is limited!
All Hands on Deck
Join the movement to raise awareness for the Great Lakes.  All Hands on Deck, a citizen, grassroots effort, will take place on July 3 at 10am EDT, at shorelines in 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, please click here.

Please join the 130 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