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      Program to boost Great Lakes cleanup research

      The University of Michigan is establishing a research program designed to bring more scientific credibility to the federal government's billion-dollar battle to clean up the Great Lakes.

      The Obama administration began the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in 2009. It's designed to begin solving some of the freshwater seas' biggest environmental problems, such as invasive species, pollution and shrinking wildlife habitat.

      Funding has been approved for about 700 projects. But some researchers say the program needs a stronger scientific foundation to make sure it's actually bringing about long-term solutions instead of temporary fixes.

      Officials say the University of Michigan Water Center will help fill knowledge gaps and integrate scientific research with hands-on projects such as restoring wetlands and dredging contaminated harbors.