Feb 25, 2020

U.S. EPA Explores Great Lakes Water Quality Improvements

The U.S. EPA is awarding grants for nutrient reduction projects in Great Lakes Basin

algae blooms

The U.S. EPA is exploring market-based approaches to combat chronic algae problems in parts of the Great Lakes region.

The agency announced it was dispersing more than $1.8 million in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants to five organizations across the region. These grants will fund the exploration of private-sector approaches to reducing phosphorus, nitrogen and other nutrients that grow algal blooms.

One of those five organizations, Great Lakes Commission, is receiving $290,000, according to the Blade. The Great Lakes Commission will expand the use of water quality trading in the Great Lakes basin by creating a new incentive to participate in trading programs, according to the agency’s press release. This will occur through the inclusion of drinking water utilities as potential buyers of water quality credits.

The next phase of the commission’s research project is called Conservation Kick, an expansion of the Erie P Market which Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana began in December 2017. The first two contracts for an Erie P Market stewardship trade were signed June 2018 and a third August 2018, reported the Blade. 1,156 pounds of total phosphorus will be prevented from entering surface waterways over the five-year contract period, according to the commission.

According to Darren Nichols, Great Lakes Commission executive director, Conservation Kick builds on the vision of the Great Lakes to responsibly develop, use and conserve the water resources of the basin.

“Conservation Kick will enable motivated credit investors — including water utilities, industries and businesses, non-profit organizations and citizens — to fund conservation improvements on the land, keeping soil and nutrients out of the Great Lakes and protecting drinking water for 48 million North American citizens,” said Nichols.

Besides western Lake Erie, the commission’s focus will include the Fox River.

“Addressing emerging challenges, like excess nutrients in our waters, requires creative solutions,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This EPA funding will help build on existing state, local and tribal efforts and support innovative tools and technologies that will deliver critical water quality improvements at a lower cost.”

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