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Updated plans for each of the Great Lakes now available

Release Date: 05/04/2006
Contact Information: Phillippa Cannon, (312) 353-6218,


CHICAGO (May. 4, 2006) - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the release of biennial status reports on each of the five Great Lakes today. These comprehensive environmental management plans provide details on the steps needed to ensure protection, restoration and environmental maintenance of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario.

The plans outline the environmental status of each lake, highlight successes, identify problems, and propose solutions. The lake-wide plans are a requirement of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between the United States and Canada to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Great Lakes. All of the plans, except for Lake Michigan which is entirely in the United States, were developed with Environment Canada. They are collaborative efforts of the state, federal, tribal and provincial governments, as well as stakeholder organizations.

They address such issues as toxic pollutants, pathogens, shoreline development, wildlife and aquatic habitats, uncontrolled runoff and erosion, aquatic and land-based invasive species, and economic and environmental sustainability. They recommend priority actions and projects and address such emerging issues as new chemical threats and the fast pace of changes in land use.

They also set priorities for projects and programs that will advance some of the recommendations of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy. The strategy, developed by stakeholders under a 2005 presidential executive order, offers basin-wide recommendations to reduce toxic substances, restore habitat and wetlands and prevent aquatic invasive species.

Each lake has its unique concerns, but certain problems affect all the lakes, such as contaminated sediment, invasive species, and airborne pollutants. Many of these problems originate outside the Great Lakes basin. For example, pesticides blown-in from thousands of miles away and invasive species stowed in the ballast water of visiting oceangoing ships.

Proposed solutions are as broad and varied as the problems they are attempting to solve. In addition to ongoing attempts to control critical pollutants in wastewater discharges and clean up contaminated hot spots, the possible solutions include ballast water controls, use of new air pollution models to identify emission sources, pesticide clean sweeps, control of urban and agricultural runoff, and promotion of private environmental stewardship.

The Great Lakes are one of the world's outstanding natural resources. They contain almost 20 percent of the fresh surface water on the planet and provide drinking water to more than 25 million people in the United States and Canada.

The plans may be found on EPA's Web site at:

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