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             WEEKLY UPDATE February 25, 2014  

In This Issue
Agricultural Trading Systems in Midwest to Help Reduce Dead Zones
Duluth Receives First EPA Green Infrastructure Grant for Great Lakes Shoreline Cities
Technical Assistance Scholarships for Addressing Vacancy and Abandonment
Technical Assistance Scholarships for Addressing Vacancy and Abandonment
COMING SOON 

MARCH 6, 2014:
Great Lakes Congressional Breakfast 
8:15-9:45 am   
Hart Senate Office Building Room 902
 RSVP here 
_____________________

APRIL 11, 2014:USGS National Water Quality Assessment (NAQWA) Capitol Hill Briefing
for staff, members and the public on Water Quality Trends in the Nation's Streams.

More details to come.



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Agricultural Trading Systems  

in Midwest

to Help Reduce Dead Zones

 

The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is largely the result of massive algal blooms fueled by nutrient run-off from up-river Midwest farms.  The dead zone decreased in size from 2012 to 2013, though was still comparable to the size of Connecticut. The extent and persistence of the dead zone problem over the years has sparked controversy, litigation, research, and now a possible solution: nutrient trading. This year the Electric Power Research Institute, the research arm of the U.S. utility industry, along with several government and nonprofit groups, has set up a trading system across 30 farms in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. The farms create "nutrient credits" by implementing practices to stop nitrogen and phosphorus run-off, the main cause for down-river harmful algal blooms and the resulting dead zone. These credits can then be sold to power plants, sewage treatment plants, and other facilities that release nutrients into local waterways. Though the program offsets most of the costs of implementing the practices, participating farmers note they would have to see improved output or decreased costs to continue the program.

The Great Lakes Commission, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources have initiated a similar trading program to reduce the input of phosphorus into the Lower Fox River, which drains into Green Bay of Lake Michigan. The Lower Fox River is considered an impaired waterway and is subject to input limits for sediment, nutrients, bacteria and heavy metal loads, which end up in Green Bay.  The resulting dead zone, though not as large as the one that occurred in western Lake Erie in 2011, has been a persistent issue in recent years and the target of nutrient reduction efforts. 
 

For more information, contact Danielle Chesky, Director, Great Lakes Washington Program at the Northeast-Midwest Institute. 

 

 

Duluth Receives First EPA Green Infrastructure Grant for Great Lakes Shoreline Cities

 

Duluth, Minnesota, one of the busiest port cities in the U.S. Great Lakes, has  received $250,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fund green infrastructure projects that will improve the water quality of Lake Superior. It is the first of 16 cities to receive funding in the initial round of the EPA's new Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Shoreline Cities grant program. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, an Administration initiative begun in 2010, has committed over $1.6 billion to restore and improve the Great Lakes region. The funding for Duluth will focus on green stormwater management projects at the Lake Superior Zoo, the Atlas Industrial Brownfield Park, and Chambers Grove Park. A one-for-one match will be provided through funding from the State of Minnesota, the City of Duluth, the Duluth Economic Development Authority, the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, and the U.S. Army Reserve, for total funding of $500,000. These types of projects can help to address combined sewer overflows which cause pollution when intense weather events--such as rains and floods--overwhelm the system and untreated sewage flows directly into receiving systems. Green infrastructure can be one economical way to combat these overflows and reduce their impact on the environment and local communities. As noted in this map from the EPA, combined sewer systems are concentrated in the Northeast-Midwest and Pacific Northwest regions.  

 

For more information, contact Danielle Chesky, Director, Great Lakes Washington Program at the Northeast-Midwest Institute. 

 

Long-time Great Lakes Champion Announces Retirement

     
Rep. John Dingell (MI-12) announced his retirement from the U.S. House of Representatives this week. Rep. Dingell, who began serving in 1955 after his father passed, has seen the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the Clean Air and Water Acts, the creation of Hawaii and Alaska as states, the National Invasive Species Act, and most recently, the implementation of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. He leaves behind a legacy of support for the Great Lakes economy, environment, academic institutions, and region. He has also had a constant hand in the creation of the Detroit International Wildlife Refuge, the only international wildlife refuge in North America. As a co-chair of the Great Lakes Task Force of the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition, Rep. Dingell has helped lead the efforts to support the restoration and revitalization of the Great Lakes region, leading letters to leadership, speaking for continued support, and writing federal legislation to assist the Great Lakes. 

 

For more information, contact Danielle Chesky, Director, Great Lakes Washington Program at the Northeast-Midwest Institute.  

Technical Assistance Scholarships for Addressing Vacancy and Abandonment

     

The Center for Community Progress, a privately-funded entity founded in 2010 to coalesce efforts in revitalizing vacant property, seeks applications from public and nonprofit entities for the new, competitive Technical Assistance Scholarship Program. The TASP serves communities in need of technical assistance to assess, reform, develop and/or implement systems to address large-scale property vacancy and abandonment. Successful applicants will receive up to 200 hours of direct technical assistance from a team of experts that specializes in relevant aspects of vacant, abandoned and problem property reclamation. Potential applicants are encouraged to register for an informational webinar, to be held on February 26, 2014 from 12:00pm - 1:00pm Eastern Time. Applications are due by March 24, 2014. The Center for Community Progress also sponsors the Community Progress Leadership Institute, which provides focused training to community leaders to transform large inventories of blighted and vacant properties into community assets. The Center recently awarded eight cities with entrance into the Institute, five of which are located in the Northeast-Midwest region including Wilmington, DE; Springfield, MA; Battle Creek, MI; Detroit, MI; and Milwaukee, WI.

 

For more information, contact Colleen Cain, Sr. Policy Analyst at the Northeast-Midwest Institute.


The Northeast-Midwest Institute: 
Taking the Rust out of the Rust Belt!