EPA, Environment Canada Announce Progress Reports for Great Lakes

Nearly all the goals for reducing toxic substances in the Great Lakes will be met or exceeded in the next five years, the Environmental Protection Agencys Great Lakes National Program Office announced yesterday.

The 10-year targets were set in 1997 by the Great Lakes Binational Toxics Reduction Strategy.

The encouraging report, presented at a recent meeting of U.S. and Canadian officials and stakeholders from the Great Lakes region, showed air emissions of mercury in the U.S. declined by more than 40 percent between 1990 and 2001. Also, at least 30 percent of PCB-containing transformers in use in 1994 have been safely disposed of, and, because of stronger pollution controls, there has been a 70 percent reduction in dioxin emissions since 1987.

"Significant reduction of persistent toxic substances in the Great Lakes cannot be achieved through government efforts alone," said Thomas Skinner, National Program Manager for the Great Lakes and Region 5 administrator. "The Great Lakes Binational Toxics Reduction Strategy is an example of a successful partnership among government, industry and nongovernmental organizations on both sides of the border that have a shared commitment to solving a difficult environmental problem."

In 1997, the United States and Canada committed to virtually eliminate persistent toxic substances entering the Great Lakes basin. These include chlordane, DDT, PCBs, mercury and dioxins as well as other toxic substances. These substances may have widespread, long-term adverse effects on fish and wildlife in the Great Lakes ecosystem. Strategy partners decided to expand its scope to studying the environmental impact of individual actions such as open garbage burning, which accounts for a significant amount of uncontrolled airborne pollution, especially in remote areas. In addition, there will be a greater emphasis on outreach to involve more partners.

EPA and Environment Canada announced progress reports on Lakewide Management Plans (LaMPs) for three of the Great Lakes: Michigan, Huron and Superior.

The LaMPs, originally released in April 2000, are strategic ecosystem management plans for the lakes. They outline the environmental status of each lake, highlight successes, identify problems and propose solutions. An update on the Lake Huron Initiative has also been completed.

The 2002 Progress Report on Lake Superior focuses on progress in achieving zero discharge of nine critical pollutants, habitat restoration and the development of broad ecosystem goals.

The Lake Michigan report specifies activities that must be undertaken in order for the lake's water quality to be rated good by 2020 and includes preliminary results from the Lake Michigan Mass Balance Project. An additional Lake Michigan document, "Habitat and Land Use Management Toolbox," was issued at the same time as the report. Also included are articles covering Michigan beach monitoring, drinking water safety and the Michigan Great Lakes Protection Fund.

The Lake Huron Initiative reports on dredging of contaminated sediments and other cleanup activities in Saginaw Bay, environmental indicators and the development of a geographic information system to better manage habitat along the lake's tributaries.

For a full progress report go to www.epa.gov/glnpo/bns.

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