Remedial Action Plans (RAPs)
- AOC Area of Concern
- BUI Beneficial Use Impairment
- CMP/EISChemical Management Plan or Environmental Impact Statement
- GLNPO Great Lakes National Program Office
- PAC Public Advisory Council
- RAP Remedial Action Plan
In an effort to clean up the most polluted areas in the Great Lakes, the United States and Canada, in Annex 2 of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, committed to cooperate with State and Provincial Governments to ensure that Remedial Action Plans (RAPs) are developed and implemented for all designated Areas of Concern (AoCs) in the Great Lakes basin. Forty-three AoCs have been identified: 26 located entirely within the United States; 12 located wholly within Canada; and five that are shared by both countries. RAPs are being developed for each of these AoCs to address impairments to any one of 14 beneficial uses (e.g., restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption, dredging activities, or drinking water consumption) associated with these areas.
RAPs are developed and implemented through an ecosystem based, multi-media approach for assessing and remediating impaired uses. The RAP process is a model of grassroots environmental democracy, stressing empowerment of the affected public within AoCs. States approach RAPs in differing ways. Some have a "hands-on" style of involvement in the process while others delegate much of the decision-making to local groups or agencies within the AoC. These approaches are complemented by Federal technical and financial support and where necessary, the application of federal statutes and authorities. The eight Great Lakes States and the Province of Ontario have the lead in preparing and implementing the RAPs, which is complemented by vital input and expertise of other Federal agencies (USEPA RAP Liaisons) and organizations as well as local governments, industrial and environmental groups and individual citizens.
A RAP is developed in three stages: Stage I identifies and assesses use impairments, and identifies the sources of the stresses from all media in the AoC; Stage II identifies proposed remedial actions and their method of implementation; and Stage III documents evidence that uses have been restored. It is important to note that, in practice, these stages often overlap, and that the RAPs often become iterative documents, representing the current state of knowledge, planning and remedial activity in the AoC.
Successful RAPs are community driven, with active Federal, State and local involvement. The affected community, which is closest to and most directly affected by the resource, in concert with other stakeholders, is empowered to create a future vision for the AoC, a vision generated by the group that will be directly affected by the decisions made. It is important to note that solutions for problems in AoCs and other local, geographically focused efforts do not fall into the "one size fits all" category. Each of these areas will have a unique blend of circumstances and solutions based upon the complexities of the issues that must be addressed.
The success of the RAPs will ultimately be measured by the degree to which all beneficial uses in the AoC are restored and protected. On a smaller scale, progress is celebrated with the completion of each of the individual implementation projects. Through the ongoing monitoring and assessment projects, progress is measured in many ways; through reductions in toxic or bioaccumulative chemicals in the sediments or in the water column, restoration of critical habitat, source reductions through individual, municipal and industrial pollution prevention efforts, implementation of agricultural best management practices, and either voluntary or enforced point source controls. There have been 24 sediment remediation projects undertaken in 14 different Areas of Concern. Review the status of sediment management projects.