Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Comments Wanted On Great Lakes Restoration Action Plan

Dec 14: In July 2009, U.S. EPA and the other members of the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force (IATF) released an outline for a Great Lakes Multi-Year Restoration Action Plan for the purpose of public consultation [See WIMS 7/21/09]. In July and August, a series of consultation meetings were held across the Great Lakes basin to get input on the outline from States, Tribes, local governments, and other Great Lakes stakeholders, as well as the public. Using information from these meetings, the Federal partners drafted the Great Lakes Restoration Action Plan.

The Plan provides information about how the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) will address specific high profile, basinwide issues (for example, aquatic invasive species) as well as critical but more localized issues (for example, contaminated sediments). EPA and the IATF will use the Plan to guide the overall direction and focus of GLRI and lays out the goals, objectives, measures, and actions that will help track our federal efforts from fiscal year 2010 through 2014.

EPA's Great Lakes National Program Office is now soliciting final input on the draft Plan. EPA said stakeholder input is crucial for the Plan to be "successfully developed into an accountable and actionable tool. We will consider your comments as wefinalize the Plan for release in February in conjunction with the President’s 2011 Budget." Comments must be submitted no later than noon CST on January 8, 2010.

As part of the Plan, the Task Force Chair and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced that $13 million in federal funding will be provided to prevent Asian carp from migrating further toward the Great Lakes. Jackson said, “The challenge at hand requires the immediate action we're taking today. EPA and its partners are stepping up to prevent the environmental and economic destruction that can come from invasive Asian carp. President Obama’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Congressional support have given us what we need to significantly and immediately reduce the risk of Asian carp reaching the Great Lakes and destroying such a valuable ecosystem.”

According to a separate release from EPA Headquarters on December 14, the Army Corps of Engineers has identified more than $13 million in funding needs for measures to deter Asian carp from moving closer to Lake Michigan. The majority of funding announced will be used to close conduits and shore up low-lying lands between the Chicago Sanitary Ship Canal and adjacent waterways. Agencies remain concerned that during times of heavy precipitation water -- and therefore carp -- can wash from adjacent waterways into the canal. Initiative funding will support work by the Corps to reduce the risk of invasion from these collateral access points. Some of the funding will support more genetic testing to pinpoint where carp may be in the Chicago Area Waterway System. The agencies will continue to identify other mechanisms for keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

Access the Action Plan website for access to the complete 39-page Plan and online commenting links (
click here). Access the complete release from EPA HQ (click here).

GLRC Public Call Summary For November 17

Dec 14: U.S. EPA has provided a notice that the summary of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration (GLRC) public call on November 17, 2009, is now available. The summary includes commentary on: the GLRI update; Asian Carp Barrier: Construction and Maintenance Update; Rapid Response Plan for Barrier Shutdown; Status of the GLRC Joint Initiatives; Interagency Task Force on Ocean Policy Public Meeting; Coast Guard update on the Ballast Water Standards; and Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

Access the 5-page summary (
click here). Access the GLRC website for more information (click here).