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Governors' Panel Calls for Fund to Protect Great Lakes Waters

February 04, 1988|Associated Press

CHICAGO — The Council of Great Lakes Governors signed an agreement Wednesday to establish a $100-million endowment to protect the water quality of the lakes.

"This fund marks the beginning of what we would see as a long and clean future for our lakes, one which will represent not only a valuable commitment for the health and safety of our citizens, but for our economic future as well," Ohio Gov. Richard F. Celeste said.

The Great Lakes Protection Fund would provide up to $10 million a year for clean-water projects, including stepped-up research and monitoring for toxic pollutants, said Celeste, who is council chairman.

Actual establishment of the fund will depend on its approval by the legislatures of at least four of the six states represented on the council, but Illinois Gov. James R. Thompson said he was confident of its acceptance.

'One-Shot' Fund

"It's one-shot funding" rather than a year-after-year budget commitment, Thompson said.

Illinois would not need to pay its estimated $15-million share until fiscal 1990, nor would any other state need to put up its share before then, he said.

"It's a very small price to pay for something that's our most primal need--clean water," Thompson said. "We can't exist without it--as humans, cities, farms, suburban areas, businesses."

Other signers of a letter of intent to establish the fund were Michigan Gov. James J. Blanchard, Wisconsin Gov. Tommy G. Thompson, Minnesota Lt. Gov. Marlene Johnson and David M. Wagner, Indiana deputy environmental commissioner.

Two Governors Absent

Minnesota Gov. Rudy Perpich and Indiana Gov. Robert D. Orr did not attend the signing ceremony.

Each state would contribute to the endowment according to its use of the lakes, which supply drinking water to 30 million people, the council said in a statement.

Additional sources of funds might be private donations and settlements from lawsuits, the statement said. The fund would supplement, but not displace, state and federal clean-water dollars.

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