Latest Great Lakes Plan Unveiled
Society of Environmental Journalists Tipsheet
Published July 20, 2005
A wide-ranging effort by a "new kid on the block",
the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration, may spur improvements
in the Great Lakes, which the group acknowledges are increasingly
prone to rapid and unexpected environmental damage.
Authorized by the Bush administration in December 2004,
the Collaboration released its preliminary recommendations
July 7, 2005 (Draft Report and EPA backgrounder). If enacted,
the range of actions could substantially affect the daily
lives of millions of people in at least 8 surrounding
states. Anticipated coordination with Canadian efforts
would also affect residents in that country.
However, the draft proposal could change substantially
following public comments expected through Sept. 9, 2005.
Six public hearings in the region are scheduled before
then (July 28, Gary, IN; Aug 1, Grand Rapids, MI; Aug.
7, Superior, WI; Aug. 18, Detroit, MI; Aug. 23, Cleveland,
OH; Aug. 30, Buffalo, NY; for more details, see the GLRC
meeting calendar; EPA, Nancy Guiden, 312-353-5006).
A final report is expected by Dec. 12, 2005. The US Congress
would then need to approve funding, possibly billions
of dollars, to implement any final recommendations — as
would state and local governments and some companies.
The preliminary recommendations include:
• virtual elimination of discharges of pollutants such
as mercury, PCBs, dioxins, and pesticides
• major reductions in sewage discharges
• clean up of the 31 most contaminated locations that
have been known for at least 15 years
• improved drinking water treatment and distribution
• improved fish-consumption advisories
• reductions in damage from invasive species, via controls
on ship ballast water, canals and waterways, and trade
in live organisms
• reduced contamination from runoff (to be achieved by
restoring wetlands and buffer strips, improving agricultural
soil management, and reducing livestock operation discharges)
• doubled funding for research