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WASHINGTON – Great Lakes ports could get a huge increase in funding for dredging activities under a bill in the works in the U.S. Senate.

Under a proposed reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act announced Tuesday, at least 20 percent of any new revenues coming into the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund annually would be dedicated to “projects that are a priority for navigation in the Great Lakes navigation system.”

If passed by the Senate and then the House, the bill would mark the first time the Great Lakes would get priority funding in a bill that routinely targets the most federal money to huge coastal ports.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., negotiated the compromise that resulted in language favoring the Great Lakes ports.

“For years, critical maintenance projects in the Great Lakes harbors, like Buffalo, have been at the back of the line for the dredging funding they rightfully deserve,” Schumer said.