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Activists: Cuts delay Great Lakes sewage fix-ups

By JOHN FLESHER
AP Environmental Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Great Lakes advocacy groups say proposed federal budget cuts would damage efforts to deal with one of the region’s biggest environmental problems — sewage overflows.

A federal program makes loans to fix crumbling sewage treatment systems. One-third of the money goes to the Great Lakes, where sewage overflows after heavy rains sometimes cause beach closures.

Republicans in the U.S. House propose cutting the program by two-thirds this year. The Great Lakes’ share would fall from $756 million in 2010 to about $248 million.

President Barack Obama proposes a 5 percent cut for 2011 and a further 26 percent cut for 2012.

Jeff Skelding of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition said such cutbacks would make it harder and costlier to upgrade the region’s sewage systems.

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