Alarm bells are ringing over potentially drastic cuts to the protection of the Great Lakes.

U-S President Donald Trump's administration is proposing to slash the budget to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by 97 percent.

Scientists say these cuts would be devastating to the efforts by Canada and the U-S to restore the precious resource.

The Great Lakes represent 20 percent of the world’s surface fresh water, and provides drinking water for 45 million people.

The Executive Director of the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research can’t believe the news.

“When I first heard it, I thought it was a joke,” says Daniel Heath.

Internal US budget documents obtained by CTV News suggest the Trump government plans to cut nearly two dozen EPA programs. Funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative would drop from $300-million a year to $10-million.

The funding for the Initiative helps fight invasive species, curbs nutrient fueled algae blooms, cleans up toxic messes and restores the sensitive fish and wildlife habitat.

Derek Coronado of the Citizens Environment Alliance suggests this is a “public health issue” and a “human security issue.”

“It’s not good for fisheries in Lake Erie, and tourism. Who wants to go to a beach with toxic material,” adds Coronado.

Heath adds the cuts would undermine all of the protection efforts currently underway.

“It may save some money, but it would put back Great Lakes conservation by decades,” adds Heath.

Scientists are urging residents on both sides of the border to speak to their elected officials about the potential cuts.