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MAKE GREAT LAKES' CLEANUP A TOP PRIORITY

This is in response to the Jan. 11 article, "Plan earmarks millions for cleanup of Great Lakes hot spots." As a Buffalo native and Western New York program coordinator of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, I am familiar with the pollution issues that continue to impair Lake Erie and its tributaries.

Although the designation of the Buffalo and Niagara Rivers as areas of concern in the Great Lakes Basin is not something to be proud of, it has set forth a strategy through the remedial action plan process. This involved the community in a phased approach to identify water-quality impairments, recommend remediation alternatives and implement those alternatives. Money is now needed for the cleanup.

It is encouraging to hear that $50 million is going to be allocated through the Clinton administration's 2001 budget for Great Lakes' cleanup. It is time to put politics aside and stop asking why this money is becoming available now and start asking how Buffalo is going to successfully benefit from these funds.

We must use some of this funding to clean up our areas of concern. In the past, we have seen the $1.75 billion New York State Clean Water/Clean Air bond act allocate only $25 million for the whole New York State Great Lakes' basin, while the Finger Lakes and Onondaga Lake received $75 million each.

Insufficient public involvement and lack of a clear set of documented and agreed-upon remediation alternatives are the main reasons the Great Lakes Basin were a low priority the last time funding was made available.

These reasons are all too familiar to the environmental community, and cannot be repeated. If the ultimate vision is to get all of the hot spots cleaned up, then now is the time to revitalize the Remedial Action Committee and help recommend cleanup plans.

WILLIAM STONER

Buffalo

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