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INDIANAPOLIS — State Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, has been chosen to lead an international organization of state and provincial legislators focused on issues and policies pertaining to the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes Legislative Caucus, a nonpartisan group of lawmakers from eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces, recently elected Charbonneau as caucus chairman for 2019 and 2020.

As chairman, Charbonneau will oversee the caucus' efforts to obtain federal funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, an improved Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and an expedited timeline for a federal study on how to prevent Asian carp from entering the lakes via the Chicago Area Waterway System.

"I look forward to leading the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus and working to find solutions to issues affecting the Great Lakes," Charbonneau said.

Other issues Charbonneau identified include ensuring the availability of safe, clean, affordable drinking water; encouraging infrastructure improvements to reduce nutrient runoff; and supporting sustainable economic development of Great Lakes coastal communities, including habitat restoration.

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Charbonneau widely is recognized as a leader on water issues at the Indiana Statehouse after shepherding multiple measures into law aimed at preserving the state's water supply and ensuring its safe distribution.

He said his work in the Senate dovetails with his new duties as Great Lakes caucus leader.

"Indiana's water quality is one of my top priorities, and protecting the Great Lakes is extremely important to ensuring clean water is available for the communities of northern Indiana," Charbonneau said.

Most Northwest Indiana representatives and senators are caucus members, including state Sen. Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell, who will serve alongside Charbonneau for the next two years on the group's executive committee.

"Working with other lawmakers and discussing what other states are doing to promote clean water is critical to the preservation of this crucial natural resource," Niemeyer said.

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