EPA awards additional GLRI funding
December 23, 2014 by Press release
December 23, 2014, Chicago, IL – The U.S Environmental Protection Agency recently announced the award of Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds totaling over $3.1 million to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to target harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie.
“This new Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding will be used to expand ongoing efforts to reduce the amount of phosphorus entering Lake Erie and to improve our ability to detect and forecast outbreaks of harmful algae,” said Susan Hedman, EPA regional administrator and Great Lakes National Program manager. “EPA is making this funding available now so that priority projects can be implemented before the next algae season.”
In August, EPA met with state and federal agencies to identify priority actions to reduce harmful algal blooms in the western Lake Erie basin. On Sept. 3, EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, who chairs the federal interagency task force that oversees the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, announced that up to $12 million would be made available to state and federal agencies for projects identified during the August meeting. Grants totaling $8.6 million were awarded to the states of Ohio, Indiana and Michigan in October to implement many of these projects.
GLRI funding will be provided to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (approximately $1 million) and the US Geological Survey (approximately $900,000) to improve harmful algal bloom forecasting and water quality testing. The Natural Resources and Conservation Service will receive funding (approximately $1 million) to expand financial assistance for agricultural conservation practices in the Western Lake Erie Basin. The award to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (approximately $197,000) will supplement a GLRI grant awarded to the agency in October to improve nutrient management on Michigan farms.
“Voluntary, incentive-based conservation on private lands has a critical role to play in improving water quality in the Great Lakes basin,” said Jason Weller, chief of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. “Farmers and livestock producers in the region have stepped up their conservation efforts, but we know that more can be done. This partnership enables us to continue voluntary work with producers, delivering technical and financial assistance to implement key conservation practices, such as planting cover crops, limiting tillage, and improving nutrient management, all of which help provide cleaner water in the Great Lakes basin.”
“Preserving our water resources is a priority for Michigan’s agricultural community,” said Jamie Clover Adams, MDARD director. “Providing farmers with hands-on opportunities to better understand the land-to-lake connection helps increase adoption of conservation practices to protect Lake Erie. The funding will also allow implementation of nutrient management plans on farms in the basin helping to further reduce the possible agriculture-related impacts.”
In early August, the city of Toledo issued a “do not drink” order for almost 500,000 people in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan when a drinking water treatment plant was adversely impacted by microcystin, a toxin generated by a harmful algal bloom in western Lake Erie. In addition to generating toxins that pose risks to human health, harmful algal blooms contribute to low-oxygen “dead zones” in the deeper waters of Lake Erie and harm shoreline economies.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world. Great Lakes Restoration Initiative resources are used to strategically target the biggest threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem. Great Lakes Restoration Initiative resources have been used to double the acreage enrolled in agricultural conservation programs in the western Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay and Green Bay watersheds where nutrient runoff contributes to harmful algal blooms.
The recently released GLRI Action Plan lays out a strategy for increased federal efforts to reduce agricultural and urban runoff in these three priority watersheds during 2015-2019. Information about the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is available at: http://www.glri.us/.