Jump to main content.


Great Lakes Pollution Prevention Great Lakes Pollution Prevention and Toxics Reduction

Table of Contents

Pollution Solutions
Promoting Polluting Prevention
in the Great Lakes Basin

_____________________________

Photo provided by Water Action Volunteers - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and University of Wisconsin Extension.

A Report on the Pollution Prevention Grant Program in the Great Lakes Basin

_____________________________

Back to Index
exit EPA (About PDF)

 

Executive Summary

From 1992 through 1995, the Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) awarded over $1,600,000 in grants for 20 on-the-ground pollution prevention activities. We have supported 11 organizations promoting pollution prevention as the preferred way of doing business in the Great Lakes basin from Duluth, Minnesota to Rochester, New York.

The Federal grant funds invested in pollution prevention projects in the basin have attracted over $950,000 additional dollars to further advance the projects. Recipients of Federal grants are required to provide a 5% match to their grant awards (either money or in-kind services). Notably, GLNPO pollution prevention grantees have leveraged an impressive 61% cumulative match for the projects funded from 1992 through 1995.

The seed money invested by GLNPO spurred a number of innovative projects which have influenced activities across the nation. Examples of these projects include: the Auto Project which targeted reduction of persistent toxic substances; the Great Printers Project, which reached out to an industry composed of predominantly small businesses to turn pollution prevention into the preferred way of doing business; and Western Lake Superior Sanitary District's pollution prevention efforts to protect Lake Superior.

With the help of our grantees, a great deal has been learned about using pollution prevention as a tool to address current problems and avoid future ones in the Great Lakes basin. Lessons learned include the following:

This report serves as a road map to the pollution prevention activities supported by GLNPO and will hopefully spur ideas for new projects. GLNPO summarized the most recent information about each project in a descriptive narrative and compiled the descriptions into a "catalog" (Appendix A). The project descriptions contain the phone numbers and/or E-mail addresses of the project contacts. These are the persons who served as the project directors promoting pollution prevention in the Great Lakes basin. They are important and valuable resources for future activities. Appendix B contains a list of projects funded by GLNPO in Fiscal Year (FY) 1997. (Note that in FY 1996, since a budget was not passed until mid-year, the GLNPO pollution prevention grant process was suspended.) Appendix C explains GLNPO's grants process.

Background

The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) calls for the "virtual elimination" of persistent toxic substances from the Great Lakes basin. The purpose of the 1978 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, as amended, is to "restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem." Since the late 1980's, pollution prevention has been the cornerstone of the Great Lakes programs. GLNPO has supported many pollution prevention activities, specifically to advance the GLWQA's goal of virtually eliminating the discharge of persistent toxic substances into the Great Lakes basin.

The Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy, signed on April 7, 1997, by U.S. EPA Administrator Carol Browner and Canadian Minister of the Environment Sergio Marchi, addresses that commitment. The Strategy calls for percentage reductions in targeted substances within a ten-year time frame -- tangible steps along the path to virtual elimination. The Strategy sets reduction targets for an initial list of substances including mercury, PCBs, DDT, chlordane, and dioxins/furans. This is the first time that a common list of substances has been targeted jointly for reductions by both the U.S. and Canada. Although levels of these substances have been decreasing in recent years, these substances still exist in the Great Lakes at amounts harmful to human and wildlife health. They also are the cause of fish advisories. Pollution prevention is the preferred method to address the problem substances which are currently being manufactured or used.

The Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy builds upon a tradition of pollution prevention activities in the Great Lakes basin. In the Great Lakes, pollution prevention efforts coalesced in the U.S. EPA's Great Lakes Pollution Prevention Action Plan. Announced by then U.S. EPA Administrator William Reilly and the Great Lakes governors on April 12, 1991, the action plan served as a snapshot of ongoing activities and launched a number of new activities. These included the Great Lakes Auto Project and coordinated pollution prevention efforts to protect the Lake Superior ecosystem.

On September 30, 1991, the U.S. EPA, Environment Canada, the States of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and the Province of Ontario announced the "Binational Program to Protect and Restore the Lake Superior Basin." The Binational Program zero discharge demonstration program is devoted to the goal of achieving zero discharge or emission of nine designated persistent toxic substances through pollution prevention, enhanced regulatory measures, and remedial programs. Federal, State, Tribal and local government and non-profit partners use Lakewide Management Plans to help address the environmental problems for each specific lake basin. Remedial Action Plans help identify the solutions for the 42 toxic hotspot Areas of Concern.

On the national level, the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 provided support for pollution prevention activities. Congress declared as national policy that pollution should be prevented or reduced at the source whenever feasible; pollution that cannot be prevented should be recycled. If pollution cannot be prevented or recycled, it should be treated in an environmentally safe manner. Disposal or other release into the environment should be used as a last resort. Pollution prevention and source reduction are terms used interchangeably. Source reduction is defined as any practice which reduces the amount of any hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant entering any waste stream or otherwise released into the environment prior to recycling, treatment or disposal.

Great Lakes as a Pollution Prevention Leader

As pollution prevention was gaining acceptance and momentum across the nation, several pollution prevention practitioners in the Great Lakes basin were establishing themselves as leaders in the field. These practitioners meet twice each year at the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR) Exit disclaimer to share information and learn from each other. This group started in 1990 with the U.S. EPA Region 5 States (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin), meeting to share experiences. The GLRPPR has grown to an international organization with active participants from both U.S. and Canadian portions of the Great Lakes basin. Currently, membership includes about 160 organizations and 345 individuals from the Great Lakes States and Ontario. Organizations represented include State and local environmental agencies, business development agencies, industry and associations, labor unions, environmental advocacy groups, nonprofit research centers, academia, technical assistance providers and Federal agency programs with a Great Lakes and pollution prevention focus.

The GLNPO Pollution Prevention Grant Assistance Program

From 1992 through 1995, GLNPO awarded over $1,600,000 in grants for 20 on-the-ground pollution prevention activities. We have supported 11 organizations promoting pollution prevention as the preferred way of doing business in the Great Lakes basin. Projects covered areas ranging from Duluth, Minnesota to Rochester, New York.

These Federal investments in pollution prevention projects in the basin have attracted over $950,000 additional dollars to further advance the projects.

Recipients of Federal grants are required to provide a 5% match to their grant awards (either money or in-kind services). GLNPO's grantees have leveraged a cumulative 61% match from 1992 through 1995. This ability to attract matching funds reaffirms the quality of the projects supported in the basin.

The seed money invested by GLNPO spurred a number of innovative projects which have influenced activities across the nation. The Auto Project has expanded from a Great Lakes basin focus to targeting persistent toxic substances and other materials in the auto sector across the United States. Excluding zinc releases, the Auto Project achieved a 54.5% production normalized reduction of Great Lakes Persistent Toxics since 1991. The Great Printers Project is a unique project, working with an industry composed of predominantly small businesses to make pollution prevention the preferred way of doing business. The Great Printers Project Exit disclaimer has been endorsed by the governors of the Great Lakes States and the Administrator of U.S. EPA. Western Lake Superior Sanitary District's efforts to reduce mercury through pollution prevention have earned national recognition. Pollution prevention is becoming the approach of choice in the Great Lakes basin. It is being embraced by large and small industries, and households as well. It is an important tool for cleaning up heavily industrialized areas as well as protecting pristine areas such as the Lake Superior basin.

The GLNPO pollution prevention grant assistance program in the Great Lakes basin has evolved over the years from funding general pollution prevention technical assistance to supporting activities to reduce persistent toxic substances of concern, with a special emphasis on mercury. Initial efforts helped build the infrastructure for pollution prevention technical assistance in the basin. Many small and medium-sized companies were not aware of pollution prevention, and GLNPO invested its money to help "get the word out." In FY93 Congress allocated money to promote pollution prevention in the Lake Superior basin. In an innovative approach, grantees from Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin coordinated their efforts to ensure that individual projects positively affect the Lake Superior ecosystem in all three States. Projects funded in FY94 focused on promoting pollution prevention to specific businesses, such as the automotive industry and printers. Projects funded in FY95 all supported pollution prevention efforts aimed at reduction of mercury. Of these projects, three out of the four targeted reduction of mercury in hospitals. These complementary projects were implemented across the entire basin (Duluth, Minnesota; Southeast Michigan; and Rochester, New York), and the grantees shared information as the projects progressed.

By funding these and other projects, GLNPO furthered the march towards virtual elimination of persistent toxics in the Great Lakes basin. We helped build the network of environmental professionals promoting pollution prevention so that pollution prevention will be the preferred approach for environmental protection in the basin. Our strategic use of funds is helping to focus pollution prevention efforts to reduce persistent bioaccumulative toxic substances in the Great Lakes basin.

This report covers projects funded by GLNPO in Federal fiscal years 1992 - 1995. (The Federal fiscal year runs from October 1 through September 30 of the following year.) Summaries of these projects appear in Appendix A. In FY 1996, due to a mid-year budget agreement, the GLNPO pollution prevention grant process was suspended. Project funding resumed in Federal fiscal year 1997, with the latest round of projects funded in September 1997. See Appendix B for a list of projects funded in FY 1997 and Appendix C for information on GLNPO's funding guidance and grants process.

In addition to GLNPO, there are a number of other funding sources, from other government offices to private foundations, supporting pollution prevention projects in the Great Lakes basin. These organizations informally communicate about their programs to ensure coordination of the projects funded.

Lessons Learned

With the help of our grantees, a great deal has been learned about using pollution prevention to address current problems and avoid future ones in the Great Lakes basin. These lessons include:


 

OVERVIEW OF POLLUTION PREVENTION PROJECTS, FEDERAL FISCAL YEARS 1992 - 1995

Table 1:  Number of New Projects, Total Dollar Amounts and Dollars Leveraged for GLNPO Pollution Prevention Grant Assistance, Fiscal Years 1992 - 1995.

Fiscal
Year
Number of
Grants
GLNPO
Dollars
Dollars
Leveraged
1992 2 $200,000 $10,105
1993 6 $547,000 $28,960
1994 8 $628,000 $360,402
1995 4 $237,000 $576,866

TOTAL

20

$1,612,715 $976,333

 

Table 2:  Agencies and Organizations Receiving Fiscal Years 1992 - 1995 Grant Assistance Dollars from GLNPO, and Basins Impacted by Projects.

Organization Number of
Projects
Basin
Center for Neighborhood Technology 2 Michigan
Chicago Legal Clinic 1 Michigan 1 Michigan
Council of Great Lakes Governors  1 All
Erie County Dept. of Environment & Planning 3 Erie
Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality 3 All, Superior
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency 3 Superior
Monroe County Dept. of Health 1 Ontario
National Wildlife Federation 1 Erie
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency 1 Erie
Western Lake Superior Sanitary District 2 Superior 2 Superior
University of Wisconsin, Cooperative Extension, 2 Michigan, Superior Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center 2 Michigan, Superior

 

 

 

Table 3:  GLNPO Funded Pollution Prevention Projects and Dollars by Great Lakes Basin During Fiscal Years 1992 - 1995.

Basin Number of
Projects
GLNPO
Dollars
Dollars
Leveraged
Erie 8 $323,927 $104,574
Huron 2 $27,577 $10,348
Michigan 6 $373,043 $256,127
Ontario 3 $88,577 $44,448
Superior 11 $799,591 $560,837

* Note that some projects funded during FY 1992 - 1995 impacted more than one lake basin and are counted multiple times. These multiple basin projects are represented in the Dollar columns by the estimated proportion of funds spent in each basin

 

Conclusion

The Great Lakes basin has a network of informed and motivated businesses, non-profit organizations, universities and government agencies promoting and implementing pollution prevention in the basin. The best indication of the level of pollution prevention expertise is the caliber of projects which have been implemented around the basin. Summaries of the projects funded under GLNPO's grant program are contained in Appendix A of this report.

Along with these summaries are descriptions of products developed under the various grants and information on how to contact the individuals who worked directly on the projects. It is our hope that this information will further strengthen the network of individuals who are working to promote pollution prevention around the Great Lakes basin. These projects, and the persons who worked on them, should be viewed as resources for future activities.

Access our World Wide Web site at:

http://www.epa.gov/glnpo/

on the Internet for information on GLNPO's pollution prevention efforts in the Great Lakes basin. This report will be available on the Internet site in early 1998. We will provide hotlinks to the project contacts and applicable reports mentioned in the grant summaries. If you have any comments on GLNPO's pollution prevention grant program, or if you have ideas about additional areas we should explore for investing our funds, we would love to hear from you.

Please contact:

Danielle Green, Environmental Protection Specialist
Tel:  (312) 886-7594
Fax: (312) 353-2018
E-mail: green.danielle@epa.gov

Elizabeth LaPlante, Pollution Prevention Team Leader
Tel:  (312) 353-2694
Fax: (312) 353-2018
E-mail: laplante.elizabeth@epa.gov

or contact any of the grantees listed in the project summaries.

For additional copies of this document, please contact:

Mr. Lawrence Brail, ADS [contractor] 
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Great Lakes National Program Office
77 West Jackson Boulevard (G-17J)
Chicago, Illinois 60604
Tel:  (312) 886-7474
Fax: (312) 353-2018
E-mail: brail.lawrence@epamail.epa.gov

 


Local Navigation


Jump to main content.