upgrades Presque Isle Bay's recovery John Bartlett
The federal Environmental Protection Agency has determined
that the health of Presque Isle Bay is greatly improved
and can be considered in a recovery stage.
On Thursday, the EPA officially upgraded the bay to an "area
of concern in a recovery stage" from the previous designation
as an "area of concern."
The International Joint Commission, the joint U.S.-Canadian
body that oversees management of the Great Lakes, listed
Presque Isle Bay as an area of concern in 1991.
Presque Isle Bay's designation came as a result of a petition
from Erie area residents in 1988. The designation meant
the bay was so polluted it required attention.
The redesignation as an area of concern in a recovery stage
— commonly referred to as an area of recovery —
recognizes the improvements in the bay's health, EPA Region
3 Administrator Donald Welsh said in a prepared statement.
"It is with pleasure that we approve this redesignation,
which demonstrates the environmental commitment from multiple
partners to restore the health of Presque Isle Bay," Welsh
The Presque Isle Bay Public Advisory Committee, the group
charged with helping oversee the cleanup of the bay, voted
in April to seek recovery stage status.
The state Department of Environmental Protection endorsed
the committee position.
On Oct. 1 in ceremonies aboard the Victorian Princess on
Presque Isle Bay, DEP Secretary David Hess officially requested
that EPA redesignate the bay as in a recovery stage.
Presque Isle Bay becomes the first area of concern to achieve
recovery designation — a new designation accepted
by the EPA to show improvement and considered a major first
step toward eventual de-listing.
"I think we are all gratified in the progress we've made
with Presque Isle Bay that has been documented and recognized
by EPA," said Gannon University Professor Rick Diz, the
immediate past chairman of the Presque Isle Bay Public Advisory
However, Diz said the bay's new status does not mean nothing
more needs to be done or can be done.
"The redesignation does not mean that we can or should let
up in any way with our efforts to improve the environmental
quality of the area," he said. "No one should be fooled
into thinking that Erie no longer has any concerns about
its environmental quality, but we should be proud of the
progress that has been made."
EPA's requirements for the redesignation include a pollution
prevention plan and a monitoring program to reduce risk
of future degradation and ensure the recovery continues.
To date, only one of the 43 areas of concern designated
by the International Joint Commission — Collingwood
Harbour in Ontario — has been delisted.
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