USDA Committed to Great Lakes Cleanup

May 15, 2010 Updated: October 1, 2015

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. (Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. (Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images)
On May 10, secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) would join interagency efforts in restoring the natural ecosystems in the Great Lakes areas.

The Great Lakes—Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario—are located between the American and Canadian borders in the Eastern United States.

“More than 40 million Americans rely on the Great Lakes for their drinking water,” said Vilsack and his Department “is focused on improving essential watersheds to conserve and restore our natural resources, strengthen America’s communities, and leave a healthier planet for our children.”

The USDA will participate in, and contribute to, the Obama administration’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) by providing funding and technical resources to heavily affected areas.

Last year, the government allocated $475 million in funds that would help with habitat wildlife protection, clear waters of invasive species, improve health, and remove toxic substances in areas of concern.

For decades, the Great Lakes have sustained ecological and environmental damage. Foreign species such as the blood sucking sea lamprey and the Zebra mussel not only damage ships and boats but also clog water intake pipes. Lake Michigan’s trout was found to contain a high rate of mercury. Harmful chemicals such as PCBs were also found in both the air and the water.