U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 Administrator/Great Lakes National Program Manager Susan Hedman has announced the award of four Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants totaling over $8.6 million to Ohio, Michigan and Indiana state agencies to protect public health by targeting harmful algal blooms in western Lake Erie.
Hedman was joined by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, U.S. Rep Marcy Kaptur and grant recipients at the Lake Erie Center in Oregon, Ohio, for the announcement.
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 which 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.
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.
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.