October 21, 2014, Oregon, OH – Susan Hedman, administrator and Great Lakes national program manager with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5, recently announced the award of four Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants totaling more than $8.6 million to Ohio, Michigan and Indiana state agencies.
The grant money will be used to protect public health by targeting harmful algal blooms in western Lake Erie.
“In the wake of the Toledo-area drinking water ban, EPA quickly convened a meeting with state and federal agencies to identify their most immediate funding needs to reduce pollutants that contribute to harmful algae in western Lake Erie,” Hedman said. “EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants will fund critical projects in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana to expand ongoing efforts to reduce the amount of phosphorus entering Lake Erie.”
In early August, EPA met with state and federal agencies to identify opportunities for collaboration to reduce harmful algal blooms in the western Lake Erie basin. On September 3, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who chairs the federal interagency task force that oversees the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, announced that $12 million would be made available to state and federal agencies for priority projects identified during the August meeting.
Today’s grants fund projects that will be implemented by Ohio, Michigan and Indiana agencies. EPA will soon announce additional funding for projects that will be implemented by federal agencies.
These Great Lake Restoration Initiative grants to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (approximately $5.9 million), the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (over $1.5 million), the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (approximately $807,000) and the Indiana Department of Agriculture (approximately $360,000) will fund eight projects. The grants will be used to:
- Provide technical assistance and incentives to farmers in western Lake Erie watersheds to reduce phosphorus runoff that contributes to harmful algal blooms
- Improve measurement of phosphorus loads in Lake Erie tributaries.
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.
More information about the GLRI grants is available at: http://www.epa.gov/greatlakes/glri.