GLRI Grant Awarded to Improve Water Quality at Metro Beach
$500,000 grant to Huron-Clinton Metropark Authority
The Environmental Protection Agency today announced a new $500,000 grant to the Huron-Clinton Metropark Authority to reduce the impact of storm water at Lake St. Clair Metropark (Metro Beach). This is the second year of funding for the effort, hich is funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).
Storm water at Lake St. Clair Metropark (Metro Beach) is currently captured in a traditional storm drain system and discharged to Lake St. Clair. Pollutants from automobiles and waterfowl that congregate in an old 42-acre parking lot constructed in the 1950s negatively affect storm water quality and contribute to beach closings. The GLRI grant will help fund passive biological treatment systems that will be used to reduce storm water runoff and improve water quality. An additional 1.2 acres of pavement will be removed and converted to panels of grass and native vegetation to capture runoff and direct it to the marsh where biological treatment of pollutants can occur.
“This important grant will continue a project begun last year to reduce, capture and redirect polluted storm water runoff away from the Black Creek and Lake St. Clair,” said Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI). “The Great Lakes are one of our nation’s crown jewels and it is federal support like this that is helping to ensure that always remains the case.”
Last year, GLRI program provided $1 million that help remove 11.5 acres of pavement in the first phase of this project. This year’s grant funding will also construct deep swales within the parking lot below the storm water system, cut the existing storm pipes, and intercept the water in the swales, thereby eliminating all of the storm water directly entering Black Creek/Lake St. Clair.
GLRI grants are competitively awarded. This year, EPA received 200 applications for GLRI funding from state, tribal, and municipal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and other eligible entities. Funding requests totaled about $73 million, more than three times the approximately $21 million available for grants this year.
With the start of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding in 2010, the Lakes are receiving much-needed support. The GLRI addresses numerous threats to the Great Lakes and strives to achieve the long-term goals of protecting beaches and offshore waters for swimming, boating and fishing; assuring safe drinking water, and providing a healthy ecosystem for fish and wildlife. The program also funds cleanup of toxic hotspots around the Great Lakes and has been a critical source of funding for efforts to prevent the Asian carp from invading the Lakes.
Over the last three years, Congress has approved just over $1 billion for the GLRI effort. In the House of Representatives, Reps. Levin, Slaughter, Dingell and LaTourette have spearheaded the effort for sustained funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
Earlier this year, the four lawmakers organized a bipartisan letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, Levin and Dingell urging $300 million for the GLRI. They were joined by a bipartisan group of 33 other lawmakers from around the Great Lakes.
However, funding for the program is at risk of falling victim to efforts by House Republicans to slash domestic programs, and EPA in particular. In July, the House Appropriations Committee signed off on its draft of the FY 2013 appropriation for EPA. That bill contains $250 million for GLRI – a $50 million reduction from current funding. The Senate Appropriations Committee has not marked up this bill yet. It is likely that the battle over GLRI funding won’t be settled until after the November elections during the expected lame duck session of Congress. Said Rep. Levin, “Now is not the time to cut Great Lakes funding.”