Members of Illinois congressional delegation are pushing for the passage of a law that would put an end to sewage dumping in the Great Lakes. In the House, U.S. Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-Western Springs) and Randall M. Hultgren (R-Winfield) are pushing the Great Lakes Water Protection Act. The act would end sewage dumping in the Great Lakes by 2033.
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It increases fines to up to $100,000 a day per violation and provides communities 20 years to upgrade their sewage treatment facilities. Current fines are capped at $37,500 per day. The same bill has been introduced in the Senate by U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Mark S. Kirk (R-Ill.). Kirk says money collected from fines would flow into a cleanup fund for the Great Lakes. States could use that fund to improve wastewater treatment systems.
Some of the biggest polluters, according to Kirk, include Fort Wayne, Ind., Detroit, Milwaukee and Chicago.These cities discharge untreated sewage into the Great Lakes when their sewer systems are inundated by heavy rain.