A Joint Federal/State 5-Year Strategy (1992-1997) Protecting the Great Lakes
Our Environmental Goals and How We Plan
to Achieve Them
U.S. Army Corps of Engineer
April 1992 Draft
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration
U.S. Coast Guards
U.S. Department of Agriculture
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Chippewa/Ottawa Fishery Management Authority
WHAT WE INTEND TO ACCOMPLISHWith this strategy, the States, tribes1, and federal agencies responsible for environmental protection and resource management (including consumptive and non consumptive uses) in the Great Lakes Basin commit to achieving specific environmental goals through a full range of coordinated activities. To make the needed shift from doing business as independent entities to being part of a team, pulling together, we have produced our first state/federal 5-year strategy. This document explains the environmental results we want to achieve and how we plan to achieve them through coordination of existing programs and new initiatives2.
The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement with Canada, first signed in 1972, established our overall environmental goal: "restoring the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem" to achieve healthy populations of plant, fish, and wildlife populations and to protect human health. We assessed the risks that are currently affecting the integrity of the ecosystem and determined that our efforts must be focused in three specific ways:
- We must reduce the level of toxic substances in the Great Lakes and the surrounding habitat, with an emphasis on persistent toxic substances, so that all organisms are adequately protected and the substances are virtually eliminated from the Great Lakes Ecosystem.
- We must protect and restore habitats vital for the support of healthy and diverse communities of plants, fish, and wildlife, with an emphasis on interjurisdictional fish and wildlife habitats, wetland habitats, and those habitats needed by threatened and endangered species.
- We must protect human and non-human health by restoring and maintaining stable, diverse, and self-sustaining populations of fish and other aquatic organisms, wildlife, and plants.
The people of the Great Lakes Region will know we have been successful when there is a balanced, productive, self-sustaining recreational fishery, when we no longer have to issue fish consumption advisories or beach closings, and when the bald eagle and other endangered species can again thrive in the Great Lakes Ecosystem. The following sections outline our three environmental goals and how we intend to achieve those goals.
REDUCING TOXIC POLLUTION
To restore the chemical integrity of the Great Lakes, we will reduce the level of toxic substances in the Great Lakes and the surrounding habitat, with an emphasis on persistent toxic substances, so that all organisms are adequately protected and the substances are virtually eliminated from the Great Lakes Ecosystem.
The States and agencies will achieve this goal in three ways:
- we will reduce generation of persistent toxic substances at the source through pollution prevention initiatives.
- we will reduce the amounts of toxic substances discharged or emitted from all sources, through the use of consistent environmental standards, enhanced permitting and compliance efforts, and stepped-up enforcement to ensure those standards are met.
- we will clean up sites of past contamination.
Two primary processes are called for under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement to coordinate federal, state, and local actions to reduce toxic pollution and restore the beneficial uses of the Great Lakes: Remedial Action Plans (RAPS) for those tributary waters and harbors designated as Areas of Concern by the U.S. and Canada; and Lakewide Management Plans (LaMPs) for addressing pollutants that broadly impact open waters of the Lakes. As public agencies, we agree to work cooperatively with local governments and public and private stakeholders through the RAP and LaMP processes to coordinate our efforts and achieve our common environmental goals. We will also coordinate basinwide initiatives through the U.S. Policy Committee.
The following activities will be undertaken by the States and agencies to implement this component of the strategy:
FY92 Action on Targeted Pollutants
Through coordinated development of agency/state workplans, the States and agencies will focus FY92 action on specific pollutants that are known throughout the region to be particularly harmful to the ecosystem. The pollutants targeted for this effort will be drawn from existing lists of critical pollutants that have been developed for the International Joint Commission, the Lake Ontario Toxic Management Plan, for fish consumption advisories, RAPs, and the Great Lakes Water Quality Initiative. Additional substances and geographic areas will be targeted through the LaMP process.
The States and agencies will develop action plans to implement this strategy that are targeted on specific chemicals; the States and EPA will establish the specific steps that we will take (in particular, through our programs for air, water, pesticides and toxic substances) to move more quickly to the goal of virtual elimination of these substances. Wherever possible, we will set measurable reduction goals to be achieved first by the end of 1995 and then by the end of the decade.
To reduce releases of these substances, the States and agencies will use the full spectrum of state and federal authorities and regulatory and non-regulatory programs, such as: pollution prevention measures; reissuance and enforcement of environmental permits such as water discharge permits; implementation of improved management measures to control nonpoint sources; initiating chemical bans under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA); creating basinwide stormwater control programs; conducting Natural Resource Damage Assessments; prosecuting violations under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Lacey Act; and conducting remedial efforts to restore contaminated sites.
As part of this effort to reduce or eliminate specific pollutants, EPA and the States will:
- encourage facilities that discharge, emit, use, generate or store any of these substances to conduct an analysis of how they can minimize their use or generation of these substances, and provide technical assistance to support those efforts.
- decide which substances warrant the imposition of bans on use or discharge under TSCA. EPA coordinate the banning of the selected chemicals using TSCA authorities with the Council of Great Lakes Governors.
- work to identify ways to eliminate stocks of suspended, canceled, and unusable pesticides from the Great Lakes Basin through the development of "clean sweep" programs and implementation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) regulatory program.
EPA will also negotiate with appropriate Canadian agencies to achieve equivalent controls for these substances. EPA will continue to work closely with the States to maintain base level programs and make the necessary adjustments to successfully implement the toxic reduction portion of the strategy.
EPA is committed to incorporating pollution prevention into every aspect of its regulatory and non-regulatory programs by including prevention provisions in permit conditions and compliance orders, and by voluntary measures such as the 33/50 program.
The States are promoting pollution prevention through a full array of voluntary programs. They are assuming a leadership role in pollution prevention around the Lakes. In April 1991, governors representing five of the Great Lakes States, together with EPA Administrator William Reilly, announced that they were committed to helping all sectors of the region's economy make pollution prevention an integral part of how they do business.
At the same time, the States and EPA committed themselves to four specific pollution prevention initiatives for the Great Lakes:
- establishing Lake Superior as a zero discharge demonstration area;
- supporting efforts by leaders in the auto industry to promote pollution prevention on an industry-wide basis;
- addressing the challenges of urban nonpoint source (stormwater) pollution through pilot project in Rochester and Buffalo, New York; and
- cosponsoring, with Canada, an international symposium on pollution prevention prior to the meeting of the International Joint Commission in September, 1991. At the symposium we involved the public in a broad discussion about the importance of pollution prevention as a key factor in the region's continuing economic competitiveness.
With respect to the first initiative, the U.S. and Canada will continue to develop and implement a joint action plan for Lake Superior, responding to the International Joint Commission's recommendation that "the Parties designate Lake Superior as a demonstration area where no point source discharge of any persistent toxic chemical will be permitted." The two countries are committing to: a zero discharge demonstration program devoted to achieving zero discharge or emission of certain designated persistent bioaccumulative toxic substances, which may degrade the ecosystem of the Lake Superior Basin; and a broader program of identifying impairments and restoring and protecting the lake's ecosystem.
As part of its nationwide 33/50 Project, EPA has strongly encouraged all major sources of toxic emissions to commit to voluntary reductions. This program recognizes companies that pledge to reduce toxic emissions/discharges 33 percent by 1992, and 50 percent by 1995. EPA will revise current grant programs and develop technical assistance programs to support state source reduction/pollution prevention programs.
EPA will work with companies in the Great Lakes region to promote the environmental and practical benefits of the early reduction provisions of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 (CAAA). These provisions allow sources to receive credit for reducing emissions of hazardous air pollutants prior to the implementation of the technology based standards.
The Soil Conservation Service will continue its efforts to reduce nonpoint source pollution through the application of land treatment measures. The Great Lakes regional project places special emphasis on activities in the basin.
Improving the Regulatory Framework: Clean Air Act Implementation
Historically, protecting water quality in the Great Lakes has focused on water discharges and water-related habitat issues. However, as we have improved our understanding of pollution pathways, we now recognize that airborne deposition of toxic substances is a serious problem for the Great Lakes. Thus, implementation of the four major provisions of the Clean Air-Act Amendments of 1990 (CAAA) will be an integral component of this Strategy:
Title I provisions for non-attainment areas require additional control measures to be implemented to control particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which form ozone, in order to protect public health. Many of the VOCs and some particulate matter, however, are hazardous air pollutants, and are being transported through the atmosphere and deposited into the Great Lakes. Therefore, regulatory programs which reduce the emissions of particulate matter and VOCs will also benefit the water quality of the Great Lakes by decreasing atmospheric deposition.
Title II provisions, relating to mobile sources, will result in substantial reductions in VOC emissions from light and heavy duty vehicles. The VOC emissions are comprised of various toxic compounds, which, based on several studies conducted in Region V, are large contributors to air toxic deposition.
Title III provisions, relating to hazardous air pollutants, require that EPA issue technology-based standards to regulate 189 toxic air pollutants according to the schedule established in the CAAA. EPA will identify key source categories of toxic air emissions in the Great Lakes Region and set priorities accordingly for the development of Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MATC) standards, to be applied nationwide for these types of sources, as applicable. EPA will coordinate the development of MACT standards to discourage intermedia transfer of toxic pollutants. EPA may also add substances (including Great Lakes priority pollutants) to the regulated toxic air pollutant list when scientific information indicates that the addition is warranted.
EPA and the States will address the problem of long-distance transport of contaminants3. Under Title III, the Great Waters Study will investigate sources of atmospheric deposition of hazardous pollutants, evaluate the adverse impacts of these pollutants on humans and the environment, and establish monitors to measure the rates of deposition into the Great Lakes and coastal waters. Based on the findings of this study, the EPA administrator may require additional controls if, for instance, existing controls are not supporting achievement of water quality standards.
Through implementation of Title IV (Acid Deposition Control), EPA anticipates a 50 percent reduction in sulphur dioxide emissions from utilities; based on the control technology selected by a source, emissions of hazardous pollutants, such as mercury, may also be reduced.
Improving the Regulatory Framework: Other Initiatives
By December 1993, the States and EPA expect to complete their joint effort under the Great Lakes Water Quality Initiative to develop guidance on water quality standards, anti-degradation provisions, and implementation procedures. This guidance will ensure consistent approaches to management and regulation of the sources of persistent bioaccumulative toxic substances. During its formal review and approval process, EPA Headquarters will consult with FWS and the States on the draft guidance. Proposed guidance will be published for public comment prior to issuance of the final guidance. The current schedule calls for draft guidance to be proposed by September 1992 with final guidance by December 1993. Once this final guidance is issued, States will incorporate the necessary changes into their water quality management plans within two years. Some States have already begun regulatory development for anti-degradation provisions. All States agree to expedite implementation of these provisions once they become final.
Cleaning Up Contamination
With respect to cleaning up past contamination, EPA, in consultation with the Corps of Engineers, and the FWS, will involve the States in the Assessment and Remediation of Contaminated Sediments (ARCS) initiatives to establish effective technologies for remediating contaminated sediment sites and to provide guidance to local decision-makers on remediating sediments. Provisions will be made to ensure that remediating contaminated sites does not result in the transfer of pollutants to other media or broaden the geographic area of contamination. EPA also commits to involve the States in its national strategy for contaminated sediments.
By July 1, 1993, the States will develop studies and clean-up plans for contaminated sediment sites in most Areas of Concern consistent with the Remedial Action Planning process. Each State will, in conjunction with EPA or other agencies, as appropriate, initiate at least one pilot or full-scale remedial action for a contaminated sediment site. EPA and the States will focus remedial efforts under the Superfund and RCRA programs on facilities and waste sites suspected of discharging or emitting toxic pollutants into the Great Lakes ecosystem.
FWS has identified sites where damage to natural resources has occurred and will coordinate with respective state trustees and then conduct five pilot Natural Resource Damage Assessments (NRDAs) in the Great Lakes Basin to determine the compensation required for injury to and restoration of damaged resources. As part of a federal cleanup activity, the FWS is charged with conducting these assessments to recover damages for injuries caused to natural resources (e.g., endangered species, migratory birds and trust fisheries) by the release of hazardous substances. FWS also intends to conduct such an assessment in each of the Areas of Concern that involve trust resources.
EPA will meet the Great Lakes Critical Programs Act deadlines for completing demonstration projects for sedimentation remediation. It will also publish the guidance necessary for the States to promulgate regulations on sediment quality.
EPA, FWS, and the Corps will develop regional guidance for testing and evaluating dredged materials. This guidance will help assure that dredged materials are disposed of in an acceptable manner.
Improving Our Ability to Measure Progress and Set Priorities
The ability of the States and agencies to set priorities in the LaMP and RAP processes depends on comprehensive data from various monitoring processes and on subsequent computer modeling of pollutant movement throughout the Lakes. The States and agencies commit to evaluating and enhancing our data management, toxic substances monitoring, and biomonitoring activities in order to measure progress throughout the Ecosystem. EPA will complete the Great Lakes component of the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) and initiate sampling to test the program during July 1992. The FWS's Biomonitoring of Environmental Status and Trends (BEST) and the USGS's North American Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) will also contribute to measuring ecosystem health.
Under the CAAA provision that mandates a Great Waters Study, EPA, in cooperation with NOAA, will conduct a program to identify and assess the rate and extent of deposition of hazardous air pollutants in the Great Lakes and evaluate adverse impacts on humans and the environment. EPA, in cooperation with Environment Canada and NOAA, will establish and operate the Great Lakes Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network to monitor the deposition of hazardous air pollution. One wet/dry facility on each lake has been established to collect data. This information will be factored into further emissions standards or control measures.
To improve toxic loading estimates and better gauge ecosystem response, the States and EPA will work closely with federal partners to enhance monitoring efforts, apply mass balance modeling to the Great Lakes and develop atmospheric deposition models for both the land and water surfaces of the Basin. Mid-1993 has been established as the goal for completion of a separate model for each media. Mid-1995 has been established as the goal for completing the link between the two models so that the impact of air deposition of toxic substances on the Lakes can be analyzed.
FWS, in conjunction with the States, will use biological indicators to monitor the effectiveness of remedial actions on the status of endangered species populations, and on the health of the ecosystem. USDA will monitor changes in land use activities across the Great Lakes Basin. This will include evaluating cropping patterns, tillage practices, and residue levels. Tracking of changes in land cover conditions is an important component in understanding changes in sediment, nutrient, and chemical loadings into the lakes.
Fish and Wildlife Consumption Advisories
Our long-term environmental goal is to eliminate toxic contamination, however, we recognize that there will continue to be a need for fish and wildlife consumption advisories for some time. One interim goal of this strategy is to establish consistent criteria (e.g., toxic concentration) for fish and wildlife consumption advisories across the region. By July 1, 1993, EPA will establish regional guidance, in consultation with the Food and Drug Administration, the Council of Great Lakes Governors, and other appropriate federal and state agencies, to ensure that consistent advisories for both fish and wildlife consumption are enacted by all States. The States have responsibility for communicating fish and wildlife advisories to the public.
The FWS, Tribes, and States, under the aegis of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, will develop fishery management plans which help reduce exposure to bioaccumulative substances. These plans will incorporate the philosophy of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission's Position Statement on Contaminants in the Great Lakes. The statement declares that fish stocking must continue simultaneously with cleanup of contaminants because fish communities are living barometers that document the success of eliminating contaminants and restoring water quality.
PROTECTING AND RESTORING HABITAT
To restore the integrity of the Great Lakes Basin, we will protect and restore habitats vital for the support of healthy and diverse communities of plants, fish, and wildlife, with an emphasis on those habitats needed by threatened and endangered species and interjurisdictional fish and wildlife.
We recognize that reducing the danger from the bioaccumulation of toxic substances is only part of the answer. We want to restore the ecosystems of the Great Lakes to the point where endangered or threatened species, such as the bald eagle, can thrive. It is important that we provide sufficient habitat, both in terms of quality and quantity, to prevent further losses of native species, to prevent further declines in populations of desirable species, whether native or introduced, and eventually to restore communities of species that have been adversely impacted by loss of habitat. Protection today is much better than remediation tomorrow.
We will work to achieve this goal in three ways:
- we will protect existing habitat, through the full array of regulatory and other means (e.g., private purchase programs), with an emphasis on the most valuable habitats required by federal endangered and threatened species, migratory birds, and interjurisdictional fishery resources;
- we will restore or rehabilitate damaged habitat through the LaMPs, RAPs and other means; and
- we will ensure that wetland habitat losses are offset so there is no net loss of wetland habitat and we will strive for net gain.
FWS will take the lead in identifying critical habitats for threatened and endangered species, and protecting/restoring those habitats. The Corps, FWS, and EPA will take the lead in protecting critical stream and wetland habitats through implementation of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.
By December 31, 1992, FWS, and the States, will conduct an inventory of habitats to establish a priority listing of sites for protection, rehabilitation, or restoration. Such sites will include wetlands, colonial nesting bird islands, fish spawning and nursery areas, and/or areas needed for endangered plant or animal habitat within the Great Lakes Ecosystem. Priorities will be based on a number of criteria including risks posed to the species, and the potential for success of habitat protection and restoration efforts. We will use this inventory to aid funding decisions in restoration and acquisition programs.
The inventory will also include identification of habitats, such as wetland areas, which may be subject to activities requiring federal permits (such as Section 404, Section 10, hydropower relicensing, etc.). By identifying potential permit activities and habitat sites, government agencies charged with reviewing permit applications will be aware of potential issues early in the permit process.
EPA and FWS will participate in each state's development and implementation of Remedial Action Plans for Areas of Concern throughout the Basin. The RAP process will identify habitat areas from this inventory for restoration and protection. FWS will assist the States in setting fish and wildlife goals for each RAP, and estimating the quantity and quality of habitat required to meet such goals.
The States and EPA will prepare state wetland conservation plans and wetland water quality standards that provide a basis for conducting water quality certification programs under section 401 of the Clean Water Act. EPA will continue Advanced Identification (ADID) studies within priority areas on the Great Lakes using FWS habitat inventory data.
The States, local governments, and FWS will support EPA's development of LaMPs for each lake by promoting the protection and restoration of habitat, particularly as it has been impacted, or potentially will be impacted, by critical pollutants. The States and EPA will use ADID studies and state wetland conservation plans to protect important stream and wetland habitats.
FWS, through the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, has established the goal of protecting approximately 407,000 acres of critical waterfowl habitat, enhancing approximately 135,000 acres of wetlands, and creating approximately 19,000 acres of wetlands in the Great Lakes Ecosystem. The FWS will add protected acreage through its Private Land effort to protect and restore needed habitat through purchase of private wetlands, easements, negotiated agreements, local zoning ordinances, and trading of development rights. FWS will also increase surveillance and reporting of illegal dredge and fill activities.
By July 1, 1992, the States, in conjunction with EPA and other federal agencies, will develop criteria for areas that have "special environmental significance" or that have qualities which warrant special protection. By July 1993, each state will propose a priority list of areas for study that would potentially meet this designation.
By July 1996, each state in the Great Lakes Basin will propose to EPA, for its approval, either a list of waters within the region for designation as Outstanding National Resource Waters, or its designation criteria, as defined under the Great Lakes Water Quality Initiative. The FWS and NPS stand ready to assist the States in the designation process. This designation has the legal significance of not allowing any degradation of water quality (on a parameter by parameter basis) of the receiving waters. Under EPA guidance, new discharges would be prohibited. It is conceivable that such discharges could be allowed if there is an offsetting reduction in existing discharges, or if a high level of pretreatment is provided. In addition, stringent nonpoint source controls would be required to prevent increased loadings from those sources as development occurred.
FWS, NOAA, the Corps, and EPA will coordinate their regional nominations for Coastal America Projects with the goals and objectives of this strategy. NOAA will continue to support the Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve on Lake Erie. The site is part of a Federal-State cooperative effort to establish natural field laboratories to provide information to assist coastal managers through estuarine research and public education programs. NOAA is also in the process of evaluating Thunder Bay (Michigan) as a National Marine Sanctuary. A draft environmental impact statement and management plan is scheduled for completion in April 1992. Four other sites in the Great Lakes are on NOAA's site evaluation list.
The Corps will continue to develop Special Area Management Plans (SAMP) for wetlands of particular environmental significance; these plans outline what types of development may occur on the land, prior to any permitting requests.
EPA and the Corps will continue to implement the provisions of the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act by emphasizing avoidance of habitat destruction, reduction of impacts, and adequate mitigation of habitat disturbed in projects and permits.
The Soil Conservation Service will continue to protect wetland habitats on private lands. Both the 1985 and 1990 Farm Bills provide for the identification of wetlands and restrictions on their conversion. Other USDA efforts will complement this effort, especially the conservation and wetland reserve programs. The conservation reserve program will continue to place special emphasis on conservation priority areas by awarding extra points in the bid process to lands located in the basin.
Restoring Habitat Area
In addition to working through the LaMPs and RAPs processes, the FWS will support efforts to encourage cooperative conservation and restoration of habitat, as mandated under the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act of 1990 and as set forth under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.
FWS will also provide recovery actions that are needed for habitats of federal endangered and threatened Great Lakes species; these actions will be identified in Recovery Plans and other FWS documents.
The Corps has authority in Section 1135 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 to modify structures and/or operations of completed Corps projects to restore fish and wildlife resources and will exercise that authority at the request of habitat and resource managers, as appropriate.
EPA and the Corps will continue to implement the provisions of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act by emphasizing total restoration of sites damaged by unauthorized fills.
To achieve our common goal of no net loss in the quantity and quality of wetlands and other aquatic habitats, the Corps and EPA have signed a memorandum of agreement pertaining to mitigation for permitted activities. The agreement, signed in 1989, clarifies the procedures for determining the type and level of mitigation necessary to comply with Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. First priority is placed on avoiding habitat loss. Minimization, in-kind mitigation and other alternatives are later phases of project/permit evaluation. The FWS actively participates in the Section 404 permit process and other development project reviews, in order to minimize and offset wetland and other important fish and wildlife habitat losses. The broad-based strategies the FWS uses to help eliminate an overall net loss of the nation's wetlands are set forth in their 1990 Wetlands action Plan.
FWS and EPA have started to acquire habitat data cooperatively with the Nature Conservancy and will continue to do so, consistent with the objectives of this strategy. SCS will implement the wetland reserve program and restore habitat consistent with this Strategy.
Improving Monitoring and Measuring Capability
By implementing the recommendations contained in the Strategic Vision of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission for the Decade of the 1990s (Draft August 5, 1991) and the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, the FWS will improve its information management capabilities. In cooperation with the Habitat Advisory Board of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, the FWS will: assess trends relating to wetlands and wetland species and publish its assessment; complete the National Wetland Inventory in the Great Lakes Ecosystem; digitize Great Lakes Basin wetland maps; and develop Geographical Information System (GIS) capabilities at the field level. The FWS will build on existing efforts by other agencies. For example, the SCS and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources have digitized the wetland areas of that state and has them in a GIS database. Michigan has the MIRIS/GLIS program for collecting and storing environmental data. Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois also have digitized wetland databases. Additional fishery monitoring systems and databases will be established by the FWS through the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act of 1990.
NOAA will contribute to the effort through its Estuarine Habitat and CoastWatch Subprograms of the Coastal Ocean Program. Coordination of this effort with existing data gathering programs is underway.
PROTECTING HUMAN HEALTH AND THE HEALTH OF THE ECOSYSTEM'S SPECIES
To protect biological integrity, we will protect human health, and restore and maintain stable, diverse, and self-sustaining populations of fish, other aquatic life, wildlife, and plants, within the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem.
Our first two goals - reducing toxic pollution and protecting habitats - will improve the fundamental capacity of the Great Lakes Ecosystem to sustain life. This goal addresses the need to protect human health and to protect the other species that share this Ecosystem from the impacts of human activities, such as the introduction of new detrimental non-indigenous species, and to ensure wise use and enjoyment of these resources.
To accomplish this goal, the States and federal agencies are committed to:
- preventing the unplanned introduction of new non-indigenous species and managing detrimental non-indigenous species to reduce or eliminate adverse impacts to native species;
- achieving desired population levels of reproductively healthy fish, wildlife, and plants through appropriate resource management; in particular, maintaining species that are candidates for endangered/threatened status in numbers and distribution that provide a high likelihood of continued existence; and restoring populations of federally-listed species to the point where they can be delisted; and
- reducing human exposure to bacteria and related non-toxic harmful pollutants.
In protecting the species in the Great Lakes Ecosystem, FWS will have the lead responsibility for those species for which it acts as trustee: endangered species, migratory birds, and interjurisdictional fishery resources such as lake trout and lake sturgeon. Authorities for this trusteeship flow from the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Great Lakes Fisheries Act of 1956, and the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956. The States will take the lead on other species.
Prevent Unplanned Introduction/Effectively Manage Detrimental Non-Indigenous Species
To reduce the impact of detrimental non-indigenous species, the States and agencies will develop new mechanisms and improve existing mechanisms to control and/or prevent the further introduction and spread of nuisance non-indigenous species - both terrestrial and aquatic. Under Title I of the Non-lndigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990, FWS, in conjunction with the Coast Guard, EPA, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, NOAA, and the States, are improving preventive measures to keep out non-indigenous aquatic species that may enter through ballast water and other means, and developing a management and communication system to monitor the Basin for undesirable species. Such a program will monitor trends (e.g. population densities) and identify new organisms in the ecosystem, and conduct the necessary research to develop appropriate control and/or mitigation measures that are environmentally acceptable. The Coast Guard will replace the current voluntary guidelines for ballast exchange with regulatory requirements upon completion of a study that is currently evaluating the effectiveness of ballast exchange as a control method; its environmental impacts; and possible safety hazards. In fiscal year 1992, the Coast Guard will study the degree to which shipping acts as a pathway for the introduction and spread of non-indigenous species, types of species involved, transport mechanisms, and alternatives available for controlling any vectors associated with shipping.
In 1992, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, through their Waterways Experiment Station, started a four year, $3.6 million research program on zebra mussels as authorized by Title 1, Section 1202 (i) (2) of the Non-indigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990.
The States and agencies commit to preparing an in-depth analysis of the potential benefits and impacts of introducing non-indigenous species and will notify all pertinent state and federal agencies prior to the introduction of any new non-indigenous species.
Restoring Desirable Species
To achieve the desired healthy population levels of various species, the States and agencies will set priorities consistent with implementation of the Endangered Species Act, the recommendations of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission's fish community objectives, the Lakewide Management Plans, and the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. Among its specific initiatives, the FWS will:
- supplement existing fish communities with judicious plantings of hatchery-reared fish to provide for the restoration of natural reproduction and continued recreational use;
- locate and evaluate spawning and nursery areas and establish management plans;
- conduct two targeted programs of public outreach, in cooperation and coordinated with the NOAA's Sea Grant Program as appropriate, to increase public awareness of the bald eagle resource and the ecosystem in Saginaw Bay;
- focus law enforcement efforts on illegal spore and commercial fishing and enhance support of cooperating law enforcement agencies;
- increase law enforcement effort on illegal waterfowl hunting;
- develop an automated data base program to track sport (States) and commercial fishing (FWS) by gathering data on license sales, creel census, landings, etc.;
- implement the North American Waterfowl Management Plan's Joint Venture Habitat strategy to restore waterfowl populations to the 1970's level.
- ensure, through appropriate design and management methods, that contaminated sediment disposal sites, among others, do not become "attractive nuisances" to fish or wildlife (or humans)4.
NOAA, in conjunction with Michigan, EPA, and FWS, will undertake a major study of the ecosystem of Saginaw Bay concerning the existing zebra mussel infestation and its effects on existing resources.
The States and agencies will also evaluate which desirable, non-indigenous species should be managed at the same level as native species.
Reducing Bacterial Exposure
The States, in conjunction with EPA and the SCS, will implement programs to reduce exposure to harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi. The focus will be on eliminating the discharge of untreated or inadequately treated human wastes into surface waters and the associated impact of human exposure through recreational activities. These programs will include both point source (e.g., sewage treatment overflows) and nonpoint source control efforts (e.g., seepage from septic tanks, combined sewer overflows) to eliminate problem areas where bacterial levels exceed water quality standards. The SCS will also assist with the development of waste management systems to reduce runoff from livestock facilities.
Improving Measuring and Monitoring Capability
For contaminants other than toxic substances, FWS and the States will develop trend analysis on contaminants, identify contaminant sources, develop and evaluate remedial measures, and prevent contamination of new areas. We will identify and track environmental indicators, develop and implement remedial measures, and evaluate progress. Mechanisms for tracking ecosystem objectives, that are being developed by EPA for each of the LaMPs, will help the FWS determine the desired population level for various species. The SCS, USFS, States, and tribal agencies will also be partners in this effort.
The States and federal agencies have agreed to work together to achieve these three environmental goals. This section summarizes the framework that will be used to guide our activities. Much of this framework has already been described in the earlier sections on how we intend to achieve each environmental goal.
Role of the U.S. POLICY Committee
The U.S. Policy Committee for the Great Lakes will spearhead the development of a workable implementation framework. This committee is comprised of representatives of State and tribal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and key federal agencies. The Committee will help set overall priorities and coordinate the development of individual agency action plans that focus on achieving the environmental goals of this strategy. Each year, the U.S. Policy Committee will review the joint progress of the agencies and recommend adjustments in agency actions.
LaMPs. RAPs and NRDAs
LaMPs and RAPs will be used to coordinate activities for pollution reduction, habitat protection, and habitat rehabilitation on a geographic basis. Both processes will be key components of an overall effort to involve the public in decisions about the environmental protection of the Lakes. The States will continue to develop remedial action plans in order to achieve compliance with the Great Lakes Critical Programs Act deadlines. Compliance will be achieved in stages as the States meet various submittal requirements for incorporating the changes into State water quality management plans.
The Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Claim process, for which FWS has the lead responsibility, will feed information into both the LaMP and RAP planning processes, and offers the potential for additional resources to rectify the harm that has been done to endangered/threatened species or their habitat. FWS suggests that one way of institutionalizing an ecosystem approach for these assessments would be to divide the analytical responsibilities with the States, so that the FWS would take responsibility for assessing damage to endangered species, while the States would assess damages associated with the consumption and use of resources.
EPA, the States, and the relevant agencies will jointly develop an enforcement strategy that will target enforcement actions to correct discharge or emission violations which pose direct threats to human health or the health of the ecosystem.
EPA and the States will focus resources on specific substances or geographic targets to increase the effectiveness of their enforcement efforts. This effort will include cooperative activity with the Corps relating to enforcement of its Section 404 permits to ensure that enforcement activities take into account the full range of potential negative impacts on species and habitat as well as the traditional focus on water quality impacts associated with permitted or unpermitted activity.
EPA, in cooperation with FWS, NOAA, other agencies, and the States, will establish a data storage and retrieval system accessible to all agencies. We anticipate this system will be available by January 1, 1993. The system will be designed to support implementation of the three goals of this Strategy. Specifically, it will support Natural Resource Damage Assessments, RAP and LaMP development and implementation, and both state/federal RCRA and CERCLA cleanup efforts. It will have the capacity to access the data, such as tributary loadings, needed to evaluate progress and assess trends. The agencies and the States agree to develop common procedures for data collection, reporting protocols, and quality assurance methods, as appropriate, to support this data system.
By June 30, 1993, EPA, working with other agencies and the States, will establish a monitoring plan and schedule for the Basin that addresses data needs identified by the agencies to support this strategy. This plan will include monitoring components for air, water, sediment, sources of pollutants, biota, habitat, and non-indigenous species. This plan will also clearly define roles and responsibilities of the various parties for generating this monitoring data. As both the data storage and retrieval system, and the monitoring plan and schedule are developed, EPA and the States will give special attention to meeting the needs of the States and agencies as they focus their 1992 action plans on selected toxic substances.
The FWS, in cooperation with EPA, NOAA, other federal agencies and the States, will establish a repository for Great Lakes habitat data, management tools, and practices that improve technical understanding of the status, trends, causes, and effects of changes in wetland, terrestrial, and aquatic habitat. This repository will include data on the physical, chemical, and biological dimensions of habitat resources. Additional fishery monitoring systems and databases are to be established under the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act of 1990.
EPA, in cooperation with FWS, NOAA, other federal agencies and the States, will establish research priorities on an annual basis to further Great Lakes management programs. This list will be compiled as input into the federal and state budgeting processes; EPA will distribute a final list of funded research activities by October of each year. A summary of the upcoming research activities throughout the region, as they relate to the achievement of each of these goals, is being prepared to supplement this document.
Reporting on Progress
EPA, in cooperation with FWS, NOAA, other federal agencies and the States, will develop a joint report to Congress, and the people of the Great Lakes Region, on their progress in implementing this five-year strategy. This report will discuss progress toward achieving the environmental goals and how the strategy will be amended to reflect the experience and progress of the past year. The U.S. Policy Committee will consider ways to consolidate various existing reports that are currently required on Great Lakes activities.
Throughout this strategy there are numerous occasions when the States and agencies will coordinate their activities in anticipation of the next budgeting cycle. The States will provide EPA and other agencies with proposed implementation budgets for remedial action plans. EPA will use these reports in annual budget preparations.
Public involvement will be built into the implementation of this strategy through the LaMPs, RAPs and NRDAs. Each of these efforts involves the public (the general public and the regulated community) in various stages of the planning process.
In addition, the public will be involved in the implementation of the following components of this strategy:
- Pollution prevention for toxic substances will involve a broad-based public information campaign, including an effort by the Council of Great Lakes Governors to challenge all residents in the Basin to prevent pollution. The public was a key participant in the International Pollution Prevention Symposium held in September 1991.
- The USDA has various grassroots efforts to involve the public in pollution prevention initiatives. It has local committees in every county in the Basin that are focusing on the reduction of nonpoint source pollution. It also supports the activities of the National Association of Conservation District's Great Lakes Committee which has been actively involved in educational workshops dealing with RAPs and wetland issues.
- NOAA, through its Sea Grant Program, will continue substantial activities in public outreach and education.
- The Coast Guard will continue to involve the public in its efforts to stop the introduction of Non-indigenous species. Specifically, it will continue to involve the public in the studies of ballast exchange and shipping as a means of introducing exotic species; and will continue to engage the public in a information campaign, including press materials, industry gatherings and other open forums, to help the public understand the problems of zebra mussels and the types of prevention that can be taken through ballast exchange and cleaning practices.
- The FWS, in keeping with its 1991 "Vision" document (Total Quality Management Plan), will establish an environmental awareness and outreach program to develop an informed and involved citizenry to support fish and wildlife conservation.
To meet the environmental challenges facing the Great Lakes, the multi-agency strategy charts the course of environmental protection in the Basin for the next five years. For each of our three environmental goals, we have outlined specific strategies and programs through which the States, tribes, and federal agencies will work. This Five-year strategy demonstrates that we are entering a new era of cooperative environmental actions to protect the Great Lakes.
We are focusing on environmental goals; we are designing a full array of specific initiatives that will improve our environment; we are building coordination among partners that have shared interests; we are involving individual residents of the basin as full participants; and we are measuring the results of our actions. The state, tribal, and federal partners recognize the challenge of this effort, but believe that such an approach is essential to accomplish the needed environmental progress. We recognize that the world's largest expanse of fresh water, and the vulnerable living resources that rely upon it, merit our full attention and dedication.
PROTECTING THE GREAT LAKES
Partners In the Strategy
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for the nation's regulatory programs for air, water, pesticides, and toxic chemicals, among others. EPA also sets national direction in environmental policy.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) serves as trustee to protect the interests of endangered species, migratory birds, and interjurisdictional fishery resources such as the lake trout and lake sturgeon, and supports the States and other federal agencies with population and habitat inventories. FWS also manages 140,000 acres of federal land holdings in the form of Fish and Wildlife Refuges in this region and performs resource assessment and research.
Three agencies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) assist farmers with pollution prevention and control of nonpoint discharges from agricultural operations: the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), the Cooperative Extension Service (CES), and the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS). SCS provides national leadership in the conservation and wise use of soil, water, plant, animal, and related resources; it works directly with agricultural producers on pollution prevention and control of nonpoint source discharges from agricultural operations. It also has an urban conservation program that deals with nonpoint sources such as construction site runoff, fertilizer and pesticide inputs from lawns and other grassed areas, septic systems, flood control basins, and sediment storage ponds.
The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) regulates pollution from ships, as well as the shipborne introduction of exotic species. Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the Coast Guard has the lead responsibility for responding to oil spills in the Great Lakes.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has responsibility for a civil works program under which it develops, maintains, and conserves the Nation's water and related land resources. It administers permit programs related to navigation and changes to the waters of the United States. The Corps plays a critical role in operating and maintaining the navigable waterways of the Great Lakes.
The U.S. Forest Service (USES), and the National Park Service (NPS) both play important roles as stewards of vast, and often unique, federal land holdings. State and private forestry programs, a cooperative effort of the USFS and state forestry agencies assist public and private landowners in managing and protecting forest resources.
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides research capabilities for monitoring environmental change. It supports an estuarine research facility on Lake Erie at Old Woman Creek (Huron, Ohio). Under the National Marine Sanctuary Act, NOAA designates nationally significant areas of the marine environment as national marine sanctuaries to protect and manage distinctive conservation, recreational, ecological, historical, research, educational, or aesthetic values. NOAA is also a leader in public information and education through its SEA Grant extension program.
The U.S. Geological Survey is responsible for monitoring tributary flow and water quality in surface and groundwater.
STATE AND LOCAL PARTNERS
Each of the eight Great Lakes States has environmental and natural resource agencies or divisions. These agencies have primary responsibility in several key pollution control programs. They have developed many programs to meet the needs of the Great Lakes and have been leaders, individually and as a group, in addressing major environmental issues5. All States have joint federal, state, and local representatives from the agricultural sector that work together in soil and water conservation districts to solve nonpoint source water pollution problems. These districts work throughout their counties on urban, suburban, and rural issues affecting both private and public land.
The Chippewa/Ottawa Treaty Fishery Management Authority and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission have been invited to participate in implementing the Strategy. Activities within their jurisdictions will be identified and implemented as part of the Strategy.
Four of the five Lakes are shared with Canada. Coordination with Canada involves federal agencies, as well as provincial agency counterparts in Quebec and Ontario. The binational International Joint Commission is charged with advising the national governments on issues of concern regarding joint stewardship of the Lakes. The U.S. Department of State assists all U.S. federal agencies as they address Great Lakes issues of concern to both countries. EPA has lead agency responsibility for coordinating activities relative to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement with Canada (as amended by Protocol signed November 18, 1987). The Great Lakes National Program Office informs the Canada-Ontario Agreement (COA) Board and the Great Lakes Committee of the Whole (ComW) about matters related to water quality and fishery resources.
1 The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission and other tribal organizations have been invited to participate as partners in this strategy.
2 This strategy includes specific commitments and activities that will be coordinated to achieve common environmental goals. It does not presume to reflect all the environmental protection activities, such as the Fish and Wildlife Service's Great Lakes Initiative, underway in the basin. Future strategy updates will include more of these activities.
3. Toxaphene, for example, which has been banned from use around the Great Lakes continues to be detected in precipitation. While some of this toxaphene is suspected of being re-emitted from sediments in the lakes, modeling and other evidence suggests that it may be originating from sources in the southern U.S. and Mexico. Mercury has been detected in precipitation and fish found in areas remote from sources (e.g., Isle Royale, northern Wisconsin, northern Minnesota). Modeling has shown that long-range transport is the delivery mechanism.
4. For instance, without design precautions, contaminated sediment disposal areas are attractive to wildlife and humans, increasing the likelihood of ingesting toxic substances.
5. Because of the importance of atmospheric deposition of contaminants into the Lakes, numerous states may become involved with finding solutions to this environmental problem.