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Information

Check out our new look!

After years of wishing, months of planning, and countless hours of work, our new website has finally arrived! We created this new space to be a web resource dedicated to the GLLC, its members, and the coordinated regional action that is the focus of the Caucus’s work.

Much of the site is ready to go, but we regard this space as a work in progress. The members of the GLLC staff are committed to keeping this site populated with timely, useful information for Great Lakes legislators — whether members of the Caucus or not (but we encourage all nonmember legislators to consider enrolling as members).

Please let us know what you think of the new site. And if you have any specific suggestions for information you’d like to see on this site, feel free to drop us a line at gllc@csg.org.

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News Release

Remarks from GLLC Director at Great Lakes Commission Virtual Meeting (11/19/20)

Thank you, Chair Jackson. It’s my pleasure to give this first report from the GLLC as an official observer of the Great Lakes Commission. Thank you very much for approving Sen. Charbonneau’s request. I’d like to relay his reaction:

I am extremely pleased that the GLC has granted the GLLC “observer” status. I am a firm believer in partnerships and working together on significant issues that affect the 40 million US and Canadian citizens who rely on the Great Lakes in so many ways. I look forward to a great future as a result of this move.

Sen. Ed Charbonneau (Indiana), GLLC Chair

This “great future” that Sen. Charbonneau mentions will build on the strong working relationship between the Caucus and the GLC that has developed over the past two years under his leadership. Our two organizations partnered on the Caucus’s inaugural Birkholz Institute in 2019, which focused on nutrient pollution. Nicole Zacharda has been an amazing resource to the institute and to the GLLC’s Task Force on Nutrient Management, which organized following the institute. We’re looking forward to continuing to partner on this activity, and I’m hoping that our interaction will help identify some potentially interested parties for the Conservation Kick initiative.

The Caucus also appreciates the opportunity to serve on the Commission’s Standing Committee on Climate Resilience. I’d like to commend Eric Brown for doing such a great job leading a fairly large and very diverse group to produce what will be an important plan for the commission and also — because the commission is a convener, a collaboration leader — I believe it will be an important plan to guide the actions of other groups like the Caucus. Yesterday, Rep. Robyn Gabel (Illinois), GLLC Vice Chair and Chair-Elect, mentioned that the Caucus had decided to focus the 2021 Birkholz Institute on helping coastal communities to become climate resilient. I hope as we collaborate on the Birkholz Institute, the Caucus will be able to use the plan to zero in on some specific policy issues that require legislative action to advance. This is a great example of how our two organizations can be resources to one another.

Dr. Ralph Grundel made an excellent point earlier today about the U.S. Geological Survey translating data into “actionable intelligence.” Educating legislators about the Great Lakes is major part of the GLLC’s mission. And that’s because, to take coordinated regional action to benefit the Great Lakes, state and provincial legislators must first understand the enormous value the lakes bring to the region’s ecology and economy, as well as the threats that could potentially harm the lakes.  We’re partnering with the American Association for the Advancement of Science — specifically, the Center for Evidence in Public Issues, or EPI Center — to put together a virtual workshop for legislators on PFAS contamination of groundwater.

It’s difficult to find subject-matter experts who are able to distill their knowledge — their “terabytes of data” — into nuggets of actionable intelligence that is salient to lawmakers. We’re hoping our collaboration with the AAAS will be just the first of many opportunities to help bridge the gap between science and policy. The Caucus would welcome the opportunity to partner with other agencies and organizations that have this same “grand challenge” that Dr. Grundel described.

I want to give a shoutout to Blue Accounting. Caucus members have high hopes for the platform. We’ve talked about using it to track the GLLC’s progress in implementing policy recommendations — e.g., on nutrient management and lead in drinking water. Also, as Nicole Zacharda and others have heard me say, whenever legislators develop legislation on any topic, a first step is always to look at what other states and provinces are doing. So it would be very helpful for Blue Accounting to present information on the actions the individual states and provinces are taking and the funding they are investing in solving specific problems. This information on policies, programs, and funding from all 10 jurisdictions is useful for identifying areas in common as well as innovative, effective approaches that might be transferable to other jurisdictions. It’s also helpful for identifying areas where our differences could be counterproductive to the shared goal of ensuring that the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River continue to provide a plentiful source of clean, affordable water to the region’s residents, businesses, and industries.

Finally, as Rep. Gabel observed yesterday, she will become GLLC chair in January. The new leadership team will have some overlap with the Commission: Commissioner Jennifer Schultz, State Representative from Minnesota, will become vice chair and Commissioner Carrie Ruud, Senator from Minnesota, will represent the state on the Caucus’s Executive Committee. And, of course, Minnesota Commissioner Sen. Ann Rest will continue to be an important and valued member of the Executive Committee as a past chair of the Caucus.

Congratulations to the commission, to Erika Jensen, and to the rest of the staff for hosting an excellent virtual meeting. I and the leaders of the Caucus look forward to interacting with everyone in person someday soon. Thank you.

Categories
Annual Meeting Information News Release

Annual Meeting Brings New Leaders, New Opportunities to Caucus of Great Lakes Legislators

LOMBARD, IL — During the final session of its “Virtual” Annual Meeting on October 9, the binational, nonpartisan Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Legislative Caucus (GLLC) took major steps forward by electing new leaders and adopting a policy goal of helping coastal communities become more climate resilient.  

Members who met via Zoom elected Illinois Representative Robyn Gabel to lead the Caucus as Chair in 2021-22. Minnesota Representative Jennifer Schultz was elected to the position of Vice Chair.  

“I’m honored that my fellow GLLC members selected me to lead the Caucus,” said Representative Gabel. “We have an important mission: to take coordinated regional action to assure that the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River continue to provide a plentiful source of clean, safe, affordable water to the residents, businesses, and industries that depend upon them. I’m excited to have the opportunity to advance this mission over the next two years.”  

Outgoing chair Indiana Senator Ed Charbonneau will complete his term on December 31. Of Representative Gabel’s election, Senator Charbonneau said, “What an absolutely fantastic development for the Caucus. The GLLC really has come far as an organization over the past few years. I have no doubt that Representative Gabel’s leadership will take us even farther.” 

The Caucus also elected members to serve in 2021-22 on the GLLC Executive Committee. All 10 jurisdictions – Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Québec, and Wisconsin – are represented on the committee, which directs the GLLC’s activities. 

Members also adopted several resolutions calling on state/provincial and national leaders to address topics of concern including emerging contaminants and coal-based tar sealcoats and other polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)-based pavement sealants, the danger to Lake Superior posed by sulfide-ore copper mining in the St. Louis River watershed, continued (U.S.) federal funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and other topics: 

  • Creation of a (U.S.) federal rate relief programs for low-income water and wastewater customers, akin to the existing Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) program for energy customers, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Recommending that the U.S. Congress lift the volume cap on private activity bonds as a method of funding water infrastructure projects. 
  • Calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set a national Maximum Contaminant Level for PFOS and PFOA chemicals in drinking water and to convene a national task force to study their mitigation. 

The members also approved a resolution thanking and honoring Senator Charbonneau for his years of service to the Caucus. In 2021-2022, Senator Charbonneau will continue to serve ex officio on the GLLC Executive Committee as a past chair. 

The Caucus also chose the focus for the 2021 Patricia Birkholz Institute for Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Policy: helping coastal communities to become more climate resilient. The purpose of the institute is to bring together a select group of GLLC members to examine a single issue and create a plan for region-wide action to address the issue by coordinating on new policies. The institute is named in honor of the GLLC’s founder, the late Senator Patty Birkholz of Michigan.  

The focus for the initial, pilot institute was the elimination of lead as a contaminant in drinking water. Members in 2018 adopted a resolution committing the Caucus to “collaborate regionally on policy measures in the Great Lakes states and provinces to reduce lead in drinking water in order to reduce the population’s exposure to and contamination from lead.” Last month, the Caucus’ Task Force on Lead released a Model Policy for state and provincial legislators addressing lead removal and mitigation. The task force will sunset this year, having completed its two-year workplan. 

In 2019, the Birkholz Institute focused on nutrient pollution; the Caucus’ Task Force on Nutrient Management, chaired by Wisconsin Senator André Jacque, will continue working in 2021.  

The mission of the GLLC is to take the best science-based recommendations from studies and put them into practice in the eight states and two provinces that share the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. Through its mix of programming, advocacy, and other activities, the Caucus provides a forum for the regional exchange of ideas and information on key issues that impact the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. Membership in the nonpartisan caucus is open to all state and provincial legislators in the eight states and two provinces that share the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence basin. 

Recordings of, and briefing materials for, all four sessions of the Caucus’s 2020 “Virtual” Annual Meeting can be viewed at https://greatlakeslegislators.org/2020-virtual-meetings/

The Council of State Governments Midwestern Office supports and provides staffing services for the Caucus, which is funded in part by grants from The Joyce Foundation, the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.  CSG is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association serving all three branches of state government. As part of its services for GLLC members, CSG Midwest maintains a legislative tracker, available at www.greatlakeslegislators.org, that monitors bills being considered in state and provincial capitols. 

For more information about the Caucus or the 2020 Annual Meeting, please contact Lisa Janairo at ljanairo@csg.org or 920.458.5910, or visit www.greatlakeslegislators.org

Categories
Annual Meeting Issues Nutrient Pollution Web Meeting

Controlling Nutrient Runoff Focus of Second Virtual Session of GLLC’s 2020 Meeting

In most years, on most days, nutrients from the agricultural operations of the Great Lakes region largely stay on the fields. But when heavy rains come, the runoff of phosphorus and other nutrients occurs, as they leave the fields, enter streams, and ultimately reach the lakes. 

“The practices that are in place don’t work during those moments [of big storm events],” said SantinaWortman of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes National Program Office during a Sept. 21 meeting of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Legislative Caucus. 

The result is a health and environmental problem that continues to vex the region’s policymakers, particularly those representing the western Lake Erie basin: how to get phosphorus loads below targeted levels in order to prevent harmful algal blooms. 

That issue was the focus of the second of four virtual sessions being held as part of the GLLC’s 2020 Annual Meeting. Along with hearing from Wortman, lawmakers were briefed by Wisconsin Sen. André Jacque on the GLLC’s new model policies for reducing nutrient pollution. Sen. Jacque serves as chair of the GLLC Task Force on Nutrient Management, which developed the policies.  

Wortman spoke to state and provincial legislators about the progress and status of Annex 4 of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the binational commitment between the United States and Canada (last updated in 2012) to restore and protect the waters of the Great Lakes. Annex 4 outlines the two countries’ plans for reducing nutrient pollution. 

The two nations have determined that a 40 percent reduction is needed in Lake Erie’s western and central basin, and the state governments of Michigan and Ohio as well as the province of Ontario have committed to that same level. Under that state-province Western Lake Erie Collaborative, the 40 percent reduction is supposed to be met by 2025. 

But as Wortman noted in her presentation, progress has been slow, despite new investments and initiatives across the basin. “We haven’t seen any kind of downward trend yet in terms of the [harmful algal] blooms,” she said.  

And since 2012, annual phosphorous loading has exceeded targeted levels every year but one — with that single exception being a very dry year that didn’t have the kind of big rain events that lead to nutrient runoff. 

graph showing severity of algal blooms from 2010 to 2020

According to Wortman, nonpoint source pollution from agricultural operations account for much of the nutrient pollution in western Lake Erie (85 percent in the Maumee River watershed, for example). 

To date, the policy response has centered on voluntary, incentive-based initiatives, such as conservation programs funded by the states or U.S. Farm Bill and “4R” projects that help farmers improve their management practices.  

The states of Michigan and Minnesota offer voluntary certification programs for agricultural operations that meet certain water quality standards and implement state-approved conservation practices. In return for meeting these criteria, farmers receive recognition and regulatory certainty from the state. 

Wisconsin offers grants to groups of agricultural producers that collaborate on new conservation initiatives in a single watershed of the state.  

Most recently, Ohio legislators invested $172 million this biennium in a new H2Ohio Initiative, with one of the four main goals being a reduction in phosphorus runoff that comes from the commercial fertilizer and manure on farmland. The state Department of Agriculture is funding projects that change nutrient-management practices in the counties that make up the Maumee River watershed. State incentives will go to farmers that have been certified as having adopted a mix of nine “best practices” in nutrient management — for example, soil testing and the use of cover crops and edge-of-field buffers. 

Recent initiatives have also targeted reductions in point-source pollution.  

One notable success story, Wortman said, has been the results of facility and operational improvements at the Great Lakes Water Authority, which provides water and sewer services in the Detroit area. 

“It has already achieved a 400-metric-ton reduction, which goes a long way toward Michigan’s [overall] 40 percent reduction goal,” she said, adding that, along with these new initiatives, other positive signs include an increased use of science and monitoring to help inform policymakers. But this research also shows that reducing harmful algal blooms and lowering phosphorus loads could take many years due to factors such as “legacy phosphorus” — the buildup of this nutrient from previous years’ applications. 

“That is going to take some time to work through the system,” Wortman said. “And in any given year, you have a combination of what was applied this year and what was there from before.” 

The GLLC made a reduction in nutrient pollution the focus of its 2019 Patricia Birkholz Institute for Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Policy. Funding for the institute and for the GLLC’s work on nutrient pollution is provided by the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation. 

At the Sept. 21 meeting, the Caucus also voted on the focus for the next Birkholz Institute, which will take place in late 2021. Members chose to concentrate on helping communities to become climate resilient.   

The meeting was recorded and the slide deck is included in the virtual briefing book for the 2020 Virtual Meetings. The GLLC will continue its Virtual Meeting with two more sessions on October 2 and October 9, both starting at 9 am CDT/10 am EDT. Visit the meeting webpage to learn more about the remaining sessions and to register. 

Categories
Annual Meeting Events Issues Members

GLLC Annual Meeting Goes Virtual

Like so many other meetings these days, the GLLC 2020 Annual Meeting is going virtual. We had an exciting agenda lined up for the in-person meeting planned in Detroit — including some really great off-site activities. With the pandemic, though, we’ll have to postpone those site-based activities until 2022. We can, however, bring high-quality, timely programming to GLLC members and other interested attendees through the wonders of technology. The significant “up” side to going virtual with this programming is that far more GLLC members and other legislators will have a chance to tune in to the sessions than could ever attend in person — especially in an election year!

We have four excellent sessions planned, featuring issues on the GLLC policy agenda and a variety of GLLC business. The full line-up is available here on the GLLC 2020 Virtual Meetings web page. We even have a handy flyer for you to share with colleagues who might be interested. All sessions will take place in Zoom and will start at 9 am CDT/10 am EDT. All sessions are open to anyone who would like to attend (we especially encourage GLLC members and other legislators to attend). And all sessions are free. We do ask attendees to please register here.

Kicking off the first session on September 11 will be Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha and Elin Betanzo speaking about the long-term health effects of lead poisoning on the children of Flint, Michigan, and what state and provincial legislators are doing and still can do to eliminate lead in drinking water. The business session will feature a final chair’s report from Indiana Sen. Ed Charbonneau, outgoing GLLC Chair, and a report from the Caucus’s Task Force on Lead about the GLLC’s recommended policies for reducing exposure to lead in drinking water.

The remaining three virtual meetings will continue on September 21, October 2, and October 9. To learn what’s in store, visit the 2020 Virtual Meetings web page or view our flyer. Feel free to share the flyer, too, with colleagues who may be interested.

We thank the Joyce Foundation, the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation for their generous support of the GLLC’s activities, including the 2020 Virtual Meetings.

Contact me at gllc@csg.org or 920.458.5910 if you have any questions about the virtual meetings or would like to learn about sponsorship opportunities.

Categories
AIS Coastal Communities Information Issues Nutrient Pollution Toxic Substances Water Consumption

GLLC Statement During June 23 GLEC Meeting

I was pleased to be able to make the following statement today on behalf of the GLLC during the semi-annual meeting of the binational Great Lakes Executive Committee (GLEC):

Thank you for holding this online meeting and giving me the chance to report to the GLEC on behalf of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Legislative Caucus, or GLLC. For those who aren’t familiar with the Caucus, it is a binational, nonpartisan organization of state and provincial legislators serving in the Great Lakes region. The Caucus was founded in 2003 by a group of highly engaged state legislators led by the late Michigan Senator Patty Birkholz.

Today’s meeting has covered a lot of ground. The cleanup of Areas of Concern and the economic benefits that result from those investments of federal, state, and local dollars; high lake levels and the impact they’re having on coastal communities; nutrients and chemicals of emerging concern that affect our drinking water resources; and aquatic nuisance species introduced into or spreading throughout the Great Lakes in ballast water or other means – these issues are all of great importance to the leaders and the members of the GLLC.

We know that moving the needle on all the issues discussed today requires a significant investment on the part of the federal governments, municipalities, and state and provincial governments. And that leads me to make two points.

First, the economic impact of the COVID pandemic will no doubt have an impact on our ability to devote the necessary resources to some of the issues that are most important to the Great Lakes community. We’ll need to manage our expectations in the near term and, ideally, coordinate regionally to identify the most critical investments – those that can have the biggest return or are the most protective of public and environmental health. And we’ll need to work together as a community to increase investments again once we’re through this public health and economic crisis.

Second, investments specifically from the states and provinces will be critical to our collective success in addressing the key issues covered today. Because the GLLC is the only Great Lakes organization whose members can pass laws and appropriate funding at the state and provincial level, I encourage the agencies to engage with GLLC members whenever you can.

Whether it’s speaking on one of the Caucus’s virtual meetings or including GLLC members or staff on stakeholder groups or the Great Lakes Advisory Board, it’s important to make sure state and provincial legislators are part of the discussion. If legislators are going to be asked to prioritize funding for Great Lakes projects over other important activities, they need to know what’s being done, why, and how that work will benefit the lakes and the residents, businesses, and industries that depend on them. Thank you.

Categories
Federal Legislation Issues S/P Legislation Web Meeting

Quarterly webinar gives annual overview of federal, state/provincial legislation

Members of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Legislative Caucus got their annual update on federal, state and provincial legislation in a June 5 webinar.

Matthew McKenna, director of the Great Lakes Washington Program at the Northeast-Midwest Institute, provided an overview of recent and pending federal legislation in the U.S. Congress, starting with the reality that “we’re in uncharted territory here with the (COVID-19) pandemic.”

Congress has already committed $2 trillion through four bills (now laws) to myriad forms of pandemic relief, and a fifth bill is pending – the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, approved by the House of Representatives on May 15, just three days after it was introduced.

This bill, H.R. 6800, would direct $500 billion to state governments and $375 billion to local governments in two segments: $250 billion immediately followed in a year after passage by $125 billion.

While the U.S. Senate has not yet taken up H.R. 6800, it is working on America’s Water Infrastructure Act (S.3591) and the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act (S.3590), the former of which includes $375 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for Fiscal Year 2022, and final authorization of the Brandon Road project (along with an improved federal/non-federal partner cost share to 75 percent/25 percent [from 65/35]). Both bills have been reported in the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee.

McKenna also shared a section-by-section analysis of the DWIA along with highlights of the bill.

Also pending in the Senate, he said, is the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2019 (S.2295), which would re-authorize the GLRI for five more years and ramp up funding by $50 million per year to $475 million annually by Fiscal Year 2026. (An identical bill, H.R. 4031, passed the House 373-45 on Feb. 5.)

Moreover, the House’s version of a new surface transportation authorization bill focuses on climate change mitigation and resilience, so may provide additional funds for programs to benefit the Great Lakes, McKenna said.

Attendees got a roundup of recent developments in state and provincial legislatures from the Caucus’ Executive Committee. Illinois Sen. Laura Fine said HB 2650, which became law last July, prioritizes disadvantaged communities for lead pipe removal funding. Minnesota Rep. Jennifer Schultz said the state became the first to ban trichloroethelyne (TCE), an industrial solvent linked to cancer, when SF 4073 was signed into law on May 16.

The webinar included a brief business session.

Caucus Director Lisa Janairo provided a brief business update including cancellation of the Annual Meeting which had been scheduled for Sept. 18-19 in Detroit, renewal of The Joyce Foundation’s grant, and launch of the Caucus’ new website.

Wisconsin Sen. André Jacque reported the Task Force on Nutrient Management in its May 8 conference call discussed ideas for a list of policy priorities to advance in next year’s legislative sessions, while acknowledging the reality that, with the states and provinces grappling with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, expectations must be tempered for what can be accomplished in 2021.

A summer workshop to continue hands-on education about nutrient pollution will be postponed until 2021, he added.  

Minnesota Sen. Ann Rest reported the Nominating Committee will make arrangements to replace the in-person voting that would have taken place at the Detroit meeting, and that the nominating period will open from June 15 through July 13. The GLLC will elect two officers and 10 members of the Executive Committee to serve two-year terms starting on Jan. 1, 2021.

The Nominating Committee includes Reps. Tim Butler and Jonathan Carroll from Illinois, Sen. Tina Maharath and Rep. John Patterson from Ohio, MNA Gilles Bélanger from Québec, and Sens. Rest and Dave Senjem from Minnesota.

The slidedeck and recording of the web meeting are available.


Categories
Issues Web Meeting

ICYMI: Blue Accounting Web Meeting, April 17

On April 17, 2020, the Great Lakes Commission gave a virtual tour of its Blue Accounting website and the kinds of data available there.

Eric Brown, senior advisor for external relations, gave an overview of the commission’s history and the history of the Blue Accounting effort, followed by in-depth presentations/looks at pages presented by Program Managers Nicole Zacharda, who spotlighted the page on Lake Erie, and Erika Jensen, who spotlighted the page on Aquatic Invasive Species.

CIO Rhonda Wille also discussed how the website was developed, stressing the importance of feedback from legislators who are the site’s primary audience, and asked legislators for ongoing feedback to help the site’s continuing development.

Sen. Janet Bewley of Wisconsin asked if adequate attention is being paid to hydrology and flood prevention or recovery as climate patterns shift. Zacharda said Brown is working on resilience around the Great Lakes region; hydrology is an apt topic for consideration as a better understanding of how water moves through the entire system is needed. The Commission is also working on restoration of natural features, which will ultimately aid flood prevention.

Rep. Michael Sheehy of Ohio asked if it’s true that Great Lakes high and low water levels are cyclical on a 15-year basis. Brown said yes, and that the cycles’ high- and low-water marks are not only becoming more extreme, but the cycles are starting to come faster.

Rep. Tim Butler of Illinois asked how and why the name “Blue Accounting” had been chosen. Brown said the name was developed during branding work done in the project’s early days.

The slidedeck and recording of the web meeting are available.

Categories
Issues Nutrient Pollution Web Meeting

ICYMI: GLLC Web Meeting on Nutrient Pollution

On March 6, 2020, the GLLC’s quarterly web meeting focused on regional efforts to better manage nutrients to keep them out of the Great Lakes and their tributaries. Wisconsin Sen. André Jacque, Chair of the GLLC Task Force on Nutrient Management, began by reporting on the work of the task force, which aims to reduce nutrient runoff into waters of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and is working on model policies to bring that about. The task force has adopted a resolution and finalized an action plan. He briefly reviewed the plan’s goals.

Danielle Green of the U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) gave an overview of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and its “Focus Area 3” (Nonpoint Source Nutrient Reduction, the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, Lake Erie, and Harmful Algal Blooms). FA3 aims to reduce nutrient loads from farmland, reduce untreated stormwater runoff, improve the effectiveness of nonpoint source control, and refine management efforts. Annually, $35 million is spent on research into HABs, about $17.5 million of which is spent in/on Lake Erie.

Dr. Elizabeth Hinchey Malloy, also of GLNPO, gave an overview of the Great Lakes Water Quality Nutrients Annex, which focuses on reducing phosphorus runoff into Lake Erie. Four states have Domestic Action Plans – Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania – and there is a basin-wide plan for Lake Ontario. Dr. Hinchey Malloy briefly mentioned the Canada-Ontario Lake Erie Action Plan and science priorities for agricultural runoff.

Darren Nichols, Executive Director of the Great Lakes Commission, gave a guest presentation on the Commission’s work and priorities, its visit to Washington, D.C., 2020 priorities, and beta testing for policymakers of Blue Accounting software upgrades (on April 10). March 5 was “Great Lakes Day” on Capitol Hill, visiting with Congressmembers and some Canadian MPs.

The slidedeck and recording of the web meeting are available.

Categories
Events Issues Lead Water Consumption Web Meeting

Action on Lead in Drinking Water

The GLLC’s Task Force on Lead held a web meeting on February 3 to learn about the U.S. EPA’s proposed changes to the Lead and Copper Rule. View the recorded web meeting here.

As part of its action plan for reducing lead in drinking water, the GLLC submitted comments on the proposed revisions. Key points raised in the comment letter were:

  • The federal government will need to increase investment in water infrastructure to help water suppliers upgrade their infrastructure while keeping water rates affordable;
  • Lead services lines should be fully replaced, not partially, in order to protect public health, with an aggressive time frame similar to Michigan’s 20-year period for replacement;
  • Water systems should test the water in all schools and child care centers for lead, with remedial action needed if lead is found in concentrations greater than 5 ppb;
  • Any communication to families or members of the public should be written for lay readers and translated into languages spoken by the affected community;
  • EPA should establish a clearinghouse for receiving standardized reports from states to help researchers document the incidence of lead contamination as well as identify effective strategies for eliminating the hazard.