The federal government awarded nearly $2.2 million in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grants Friday to Metro Detroit area agencies to protect and preserve the waterways.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the four grants to local agencies at in St. Clair with members of Congress, county officials and local environmental groups.
"The new standard of care under the president's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative ... is to make sure we are proactively making the Great Lakes better for the next generation," said Cameron Davis, EPA senior advisor to the administrator on the Great Lakes.
The four grants are among 70 that have been awarded by the EPA under the Great Lakes Restorative Initiative in 2011.
The grants include:
- $254,406 – Macomb County: The Macomb County Department of Public Works will remove an existing 8,500-square foot parking lot at Veterans Memorial Park and replace it with a 15,800 square-foot porous paver driveway and 11,500 square-foot rain garden. This project is expected to reduce storm water runoff by increasing infiltration, resulting in lower E.coli levels, fewer beach closures, and improved water quality in Lake St. Clair. "This eco-friendly project is designed to capture and treat, through filtration, the first flush run-off event from a storm which typically contains the majority of pollutants such as sediment and nutrients. It will mean a cleaner Lake St. Clair off of Memorial Park," said Gene Schabath, Deputy Public Works Commissioner, in an email.
- $534,689 – The Nature Conservancy (Detroit River-Western Lake Erie Cooperative Weed Management Area and Phragmites Control). The Nature Conservancy, working with public and private partners, will restore coastal wetlands vital for waterfowl and marshbirds. The project will fund eradication of invasive Phragmites australis on approximately 1,240 acres of Western Lake Erie coastal wetlands in Wayne and Monroe Counties, Michigan. The project will also establish a large-scale and sustainable approach to Phragmites treatment in a heavily populated area with high recreational value.
- $500,000 – Wayne County – Department of Public Services (Toxics reduction within the Rouge and Detroit River Areas of Concern). Wayne County will conduct household hazardous waste and electronic waste (e-waste) collections in the Rouge and Detroit River Areas of Concern (AOCs). The project will target private commercial and industrial facilities in these AOCs that have the highest potential of handling/mishandling toxic materials. The expected results include collection and/or prevention of 15 million gallons of illegal discharges, 500,000 pounds of e-waste, 2,400 pounds of unwanted medicines, and 1 million pounds of household hazardous waste.
- $1,000,000 – Huron Clinton Metropark Authority: This project will eliminate approximately 11.5 acres of pavement and establish a new drainage pattern for the parking area that will filter all runoff through a system of vegetative swales and detention areas to an existing 96 acre wetland. These green infrastructure investments will improve water quality and public health at Metro Beach and restore the natural hydrology.
The grants fund projects which are part of the Great Lakes governors in 2010 as part of the Initiative proposed by President Barack Obama.
"This is just a starting point offering up the funds to restore the Great Lakes to its natural resources," said Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel.
Among the five urgent priority "Focus Areas" identified in the Great Lakes Action Plan:
- Cleaning up toxics and toxic hot spot areas of concern.
- Combating invasive species.
- Promoting near-shore health by protecting watersheds from polluted run-off.
- Restoring wetlands and other habitats.
- Tracking progress, education and working with strategic partners.
"This is just amazing to receive these grants to help us with our efforts to clean the lake," said St. Clair Shores Mayor Robert Hison.
Hison added that the the city has also met with the EPA to share with the city's concerns and "where we need help."