Sep 24, 2021

Keeping Trash Out of the Great Lakes: EPA Awards over $725,000 to Address Trash in Lakes Erie and Michigan

City of Erie, Pennsylvania, and University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh to implement trash collection projects to reduce trash in Lake Erie and Lake Michigan

CHICAGO (September 23, 2021) – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh $417,830 and the city of Erie, Pennsylvania $309,300 to keep litter and trash out of Lakes Michigan and Erie. EPA provided the Trash-Free Waters Grants under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, or GLRI.

"EPA is committed to protecting the Great Lakes and these projects will make a visible difference," said acting EPA Regional Administrator Cheryl Newton. "Removing trash from the Great Lakes is just one of many ways we are working to restore this incredible natural resource."

City of Erie, Pennsylvania
The city will use two types of collection devices to remove floating and submerged trash in Garrison Run, a heavily polluted tributary to Presque Isle Bay and Lake Erie. A "crate litter trap" uses two boom arms to capture floating litter from the water's edge. A partially submerged "litter boom" will trap and route trash to a concrete container on the stream bank. The city estimates that the devices will stop up to 4,000 pounds of litter and trash from entering the bay and the lake each year.

"Lake Erie is our region's greatest asset," said Erie's Mayor Joseph V. Schember. "Keeping trash and other debris from entering the lake helps present and future generations as well as local wildlife have cleaner water to thrive and grow."

University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh

The university will purchase a trash skimmer boat to target several key waterways that drain into Green Bay and Lake Michigan. This two-hulled catamaran will collect litter and debris from Sturgeon Bay and the Fox, Ahnapee, Kewaunee and Manitowoc Rivers. The university will also purchase two stationary bins to passively capture trash in smaller areas.

"The U.S. EPA Trash Free Waters funding of trash collection at accumulation points in northeast Wisconsin will be a critical step in the clean-up and prevention of trash accumulation at major water access points in northeast Wisconsin," said University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh Chair of Sustainable Technology Gregory Kleinheiz. "In this region Great Lakes water resources are vital to the economy and society of each community.  The ability to address trash deposition and accumulation long-term is critical to protecting these water resources for all that use these resources."

Both recipients will be funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative as part of a larger effort to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Specifically, the funded work supports the GLRI goal of protecting and restoring the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Great Lakes basin. The GLRI was launched in 2010 as a non-regulatory program to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world.

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