Great Lakes Washington Program

Created to further the restoration and revitalization of the region, the Great Lakes Washington Program (GLWP) improves the Great Lakes ecosystem and economy through its relationship with the bipartisan U.S. Senate and House Great Lakes Task Forces of the Northeast-Midwest Coalitions, as well as its outreach and interaction with state, provincial and federal agencies, experts, and stakeholders. By conducting and providing non-partisan federal policy research and background, and tracking legislation, the GLWP serves as a trusted source for the region and DC on Great Lakes issues.

The Great Lakes are a world-class fresh-water resource shared by multiple nations, states, provinces, tribes, and local jurisdictions. At the U.S. federal level alone, 16 senators, 52 representatives, and more than 15 agencies hold sway over Great Lakes management decisions. The GLWP serves as an invaluable resource for all of these agencies, stakeholders and constituents.

Current Activities:

Recent Activities

  • Hosted annual NEMWI Environmental Summit on Capitol Hill
    • Feb. 5, 2014
      • Committee staff from Senate Commerce, Agriculture and Appropriations Committees and from House Agriculture, Appropriations, and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees presented on upcoming legislative priorities and projections;
      • Roundtable discussion among the participants centered around strategy for authorizing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Program to provide long-term stability.
    • Feb. 4, 2015
      • Committee staff from Senate Commerce, Agriculture and Appropriations Committees and from House Agriculture, Appropriations, and Energy & Commerce Committees presented on upcoming legislative priorities and projections;
      • Roundtable discussion included lead offices for authorizing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Program, the happenings and challenges to reauthorization in 2014, and plans for legislation in 2015.
  • Co-hosted annual Great Lakes Congressional Breakfast
    • March 6, 2014 and February 26, 2015.
      • Attended by over 100 Great Lakes policy principles.
      • Members and staff from ten Great Lakes offices attended and spoke, during each year, on the importance of the Great Lakes and the bipartisan collaboration surrounding them.
  • Organized and hosted ten Capitol Hill briefings and webinars in 2014
    • The Great Lakes & Mississippi River Interbasin Study – The GLMRIS Report, January 8, 2014.
    • 21st Century Innovation in Great Lakes Monitoring – Fisheries Science and Technology, June 10, 2014.
    • Great Lakes Restoration Initiative: Draft FY2015-19 Action Plan, June 11, 2014.
    • How to keep the waste out of the Great Lakes – Regional challenges and successes in wastewater infrastructure, June 23, 2014.
    • Asian Carp Control Framework 2014, June 24, 2014.
    • WEBINAR: Harmful Algal Blooms and Drinking Water: Detection, Monitoring, and Protecting Public Health, September 3, 2014.
    • Great Lakes Restoration Initiative – The Next Five Years: FY2015-19 Action Plan, September 17, 2014.
    • WEBINAR: Conservation, HABs, and New Approaches, October 9, 2014.
    • Water Wars in the Great Lakes, December 5, 2014.
  • Organized and hosted five Capitol Hill briefings so far in 2015
    • LNG in Great Lakes Maritime Transportation, January 13, 2015.
    • Asian Carp 2014 and 2015 – Great Lakes and Beyond, February 24, 2015.
    • Army Corps in the Great Lakes, March 23, 2015.
    • Invasive Species Success Stories – they exist!, April 16, 2015.
    • Nutrient Trading – can it help make the lake less green?, April 27, 2015.
  • Produce monthly Great Lakes Hill Happenings on relevant briefings, hearings, letters, and legislation.
  • Publish analyses on:
    • Resources for building climate resilience in Great Lakes communities;
    • Water resources federal policy; and
    • Federal funding for important Great Lakes and other Northeast-Midwest programs.

Upcoming Activities

  • In-depth NEMWI report on vacant property revitalization in the Great Lakes, informed by Congressional needs for research to support bipartisan policy.
  • NEMWI policy briefings on ballast water management, and maritime transportation, among others.
  • NEMWI Hill-oriented discussions on Great Lakes priorities, including funding levels and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
  • Meeting with new staff and offices within the Great Lakes Basin, following retirement of nearly 200 years of Great Lakes Congressional seniority.

Accomplishments and Impacts:

These Great Lakes Washington Program accomplishments from 2013-2015 are a representative subset of activities that inform and create the conditions for successful bipartisan policy development and implementation:

  • Published a review and comparison of proposed funding approaches to fund restoration and rebuilding following Superstorm Sandy 2013. Rep. Mike Kelly, Co-Chair of the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition distributed this comparison on the House floor prior to the final vote to inform members.
  • Published a review and comparison of the Senate and House versions of the Water Resources Reform and Development legislation in 2013 and 2014, WRDA vs WRRDA, and published a final version comparing the Senate and House bills and final law. This review informed the conference committee deliberations and was cited in Politico as comprehensive resource for stakeholders and other interested parties.
  • Highlighted the public health impacts of the 2014 “Do Not Drink” Advisory in Toledo, including the challenges in monitoring, detection and treatment. Following the webinar, House members introduced and passed the Safeguard Our Drinking Water Act. The bill was reintroduced and passed again in the 114th Congress in the House. The bill requires a comprehensive plan to protect public drinking water, including recommendations on monitoring, detection, and treatment.
  • Published a review of funding for regionally-important Great Lakes programs within the President’s Budget Request and appropriations bills, working with regional stakeholders and partners to highlight the impacts.
    • In 2014 and 2015, Congressional members offered amendments that were passed to support dredging of Great Lakes harbors;
    • In 2014, Congressional members increased funding for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative from the original Congressional proposal of $60 million to $210 million and then to $300 million in the final law.
  • Hosted a briefing in 2014 entitled “21st Century Innovation in Great Lakes Monitoring – Fisheries Science and Technology,” highlighting the need for authorization of fisheries monitoring in the Great Lakes region. As a result of Congressional interest in the work, the administration included a $250,000 increase in its FY2016 budget request for fisheries monitoring in the Great Lakes.
    • Following the budget request, nearly a dozen letters of support from various stakeholders in the Great Lakes, including private industry, state agencies, and non-governmental entities, wrote to Congressional appropriators, encouraging further increases to funding for fisheries monitoring.



The GLWP, as part of its role as liaison and policy researcher:

  • Interfaces with Northeast-Midwest Great Lakes Task Forces to support informed objectives and effective action;
  • Identifies and communicates Great Lakes policy and funding needs to the Great Lakes Task Forces;
  • Researches policies to support development of bipartisan and consensus-based Great Lakes Task Force legislative and administrative proposals;
  • Monitors relevant legislative, policy, and budget matters, including appropriations;
  • Coordinates and hosts briefings on Great Lakes legislative issues;
  • Strengthens lines of communication among Great Lakes interests, Congressional offices, and the branches of government;
  • Represents the Great Lakes Washington Program and the NEMWI at regional and Capitol Hill meetings, including meetings of the states, stakeholders, and Congressional offices;
  • Provides project-specific research and information on issues consistent with the goals of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration and the Great Lakes Washington Program.


Partners in Our Work:

  • Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Cities Initiative
  • Council of Great Lakes Governors
  • Great Lakes Commission
  • Great Lakes Fishery Commission
  • Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition
  • Agencies within each of the 8 Great Lakes states
  • Alliance for the Great Lakes
  • Freshwater Future
  • Council of Great Lakes Industries
  • Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition
  • Lake Carriers Association
  • American Great Lakes Ports Association
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Ducks Unlimited
  • Federal Agencies:
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
    • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    • U.S. Geological Survey
    • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
    • U.S. Department of Transportation – Maritime Administration; St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation
    • International Joint Commission
  • Ohio State University
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Toledo
  • Michigan Technological University
  • Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute
  • National and State Sea Grant Programs

Funders of Our Work:

The Joyce Foundation
The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation