WASHINGTON, Oct. 20, 2014 – The EPA is awarding $8.6 million to state agencies in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana for projects to help farmers reduce phosphorus runoff that is contributing to harmful algal blooms in western Lake Erie, like the one in August that threatened drinking water supplies for almost 500,000 people in and around Toledo, Ohio.
EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman announced the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants today at the Lake Erie Center in Oregon, Ohio, along with U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and Rep. Marcy Kaptur from Ohio’s congressional delegation.
“This summer’s water crisis underscores the need to approach the issue of harmful algae blooms at all levels – local, state, and federal,” Brown said. “And while local experts and community leaders are guiding our response, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding will play a critical role in reducing phosphorus runoff and giving farmers, producers, and stakeholders the tools they need to meet the challenges ahead.”
In September, EPA chief Gina McCarthy, who chairs the federal interagency task force that oversees the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, announced that $12 million would be made available to state and federal agencies for priority projects to reduce harmful algal blooms. Today’s grants went to state agencies. EPA will soon announce additional funding for projects that will be implemented by federal agencies.
The grants went 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). In all, eight projects will be funded.
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. GLRI resources are used to strategically target the biggest threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem. The initiative’s resources have been used to double the acreage enrolled in agricultural conservation programs in the western Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay and Green Bay watersheds where nutrient runoff contributes to harmful algal blooms.
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