Brown Announces $7 Million to Restore Cuyahoga River and Protect Aquatic Habitats

Source: United States Senator for Ohio Sherrod Brown

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Great Lakes Program has awarded $7,000,000 to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) to restore fish passage, enhance ecologically beneficial habitat, and stabilize streambanks by removing the concrete flume and applying a raised-bed approach along the main stem of West Creek. The funding will be used to stabilize 3,500 linear feet of West Creek within the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern, restoring four acres of aquatic and terrestrial habitat. This funding was made possible through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which was reauthorized for another five years with authorized funding for the program increased from $300 million annually to $475 million annually by fiscal year 2026 thanks to legislation that Brown introduced.

“The Cuyahoga River has come a long way to become the vibrant ecosystem that it is today. But we must continue to work to keep it clean and safe,” said Brown. “This project will improve conditions for the river’s aquatic life, but it’s just one piece of a comprehensive strategy to restore habitats in the Lake Erie basin. I’ll work to ensure continued wastewater investments in cities like Cleveland, smarter farming practices, and a commitment by all stakeholders to be better stewards of our environment.”

“Over the past 50 years, the Sewer District and the people of northeast Ohio have made considerable sewer and stormwater investments in our local waterways. These investments have led to significantly improved water quality, including in the Cuyahoga River, resulting in the return of several fish species and the restoration of this amazing resource,” said Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells, CEO of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District. “We’re excited to continue that work through the West Creek Flume Spillway project, which will protect fish and wildlife in the Cuyahoga Area of Concern, and are grateful to United States EPA, Region 5, for providing much needed funding for this initiative.”

GLRI is a results-driven program, and this funding ensures that it has the resources it needs to address the most serious issues that threaten the ecological and economic wellbeing of the Great Lakes basin, including invasive species, pollution, and toxic contamination.

Brown has worked to secure important wins for Ohio’s fresh water through legislation and by speaking out against harmful proposals that threaten the health of Ohio’s lakes and rivers.

Brown helped secure investments for Ohio water infrastructure projects as part of the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (WRDA 2020). WRDA 2020 invests in key water infrastructure projects to be studied, planned and developed by the Corps, including our nation’s ports, inland waterways, locks, dams, flood and coastal storm protection and ecosystem restoration.

Brown secured $320 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) in the 2020 appropriations package. Brown also spoke out against the President’s 2021 budget, which would Cut USDA conservation programs that help improve water quality in Lake Erie. Brown and Portman worked together to ensure GLRI was not only reinstated but also fully funded after President Trump proposed eliminating the program in 2018.

Brown was also able to include several provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill to protect Lake Erie and Ohio Waterways. The final bill includes provisions from Brown’s bipartisan Give Our Resources the Opportunity to Work (GROW) Actwhich will better utilize existing federal conservation programs to protect waterways and expand access to quality farmland.