Great Lakes Ballast Water Research and Development Plan

The Vessel Incidental Discharge Act of 2018 (VIDA) was passed into law as part of the Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018 and established the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain Invasive Species Program (GLLCISP). The GLLCISP has several stated purposes related to ballast water management including:

  • Early detection monitoring of aquatic nuisance species (ANS) within the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain Systems;
  • Rapid response to ANS introduction and transport within the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain Systems;
  • Monitor ballast water operations likely to be contributing to the introduction or spread of ANS; and
  • Develop, achieve type approval for, and pilot shipboard or land-based ballast water management systems (BWMS) applicable to commercial vessels operating solely within the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain Systems.

To address some of the stated purposes of  GLLCISP,  the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency partnered with the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MARAD). The Lake Superior Research Institute’s Great Waters Research Collaborative (LSRI-GWRC), in collaboration with MARAD, have prepared a Great Lakes Ballast Water Research and Development Plan (R&D Plan). The primary goal of this R&D Plan is to identify approaches, methods, and best available technologies that are effective at reducing propagules in Great Lakes ballast water, thereby decreasing the environmental risk associated with the ballast water vector from vessels operating within the Great Lakes System. The first year of R&D Plan implementation is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

The LSRI is committed to delivering the latest R&D Plan updates to the public in one convenient location. Please check this webpage often for the latest information on R&D Plan implementation.

The public comment period for the R&D Plan has closed. We are carefully considering each of the comments that we received, and a summarized version of the public comments and our responses will be available on this webpage as soon as possible.

Stakeholder Group Involvement

Figure 1. Proposed timing of Stakeholder Group projects.

Figure 1. Proposed timing of Stakeholder Group projects.

Project 1: Stakeholder Group Formation and Kick-Off

  • The R&D Plan Stakeholder Group is comprised of 26 representatives from U.S. and Canadian federal entities, Great Lakes states, binational organizations, U.S. and Canadian shipping companies, the ballast water equipment manufacturing industry, Great Lakes ports, St. Lawrence Seaway organizations, non-governmental/non-profit organizations, and academia.
  • The R&D Plan Stakeholder Group Kick-Off Meeting was held via video conference on 06 January 2021. The first meeting of the Research Area Project Planning Teams was held concurrently with this meeting.

Project 2: Formation of the Data Working Group

  • The R&D Plan Data Working Group consists of 17 organizations with representatives from the larger Stakeholder Group.
  • The inaugural meeting of the Data Working Group was held 06 January 2021 in conjunction with the R&D Plan Stakeholder Group Kick-Off Meeting.

Research Area 1: Identification of Methods/Alternatives and Assessment of Cost for Great Lakes Ballast Water Management

Figure 2. Proposed timing of Research Area 1 projects.

Figure 2. Proposed timing of Research Area 1 projects.

Project 2: Land-Based BWMS Evaluation 

The LSRI-GWRC, in collaboration with MARAD, issued a Request for Applications (RFA) from BWMS manufacturers for land-based evaluation of market-available technologies at the Montreal Pier Facility in Superior, Wisconsin, USA during the 2021 testing season (May – October 2021). The RFA closed on 04 March 2021. Please contact gwrc@uwsuper.edu.edu if interested in future opportunities. More information about the Montreal Pier Facility and goals of this project is available by viewing this recording of a project webinar held 16 February 2021.

Project 3: Shipboard BWMS Evaluation

The LSRI-GWRC, in collaboration with MARAD, has issued a Request for Proposals for shipboard platforms, Great Lakes ports, and/or BWMS manufacturers interested in partnering to determine the biological and operational effectiveness of market-ready and type-approved BWMS operating within the Great Lakes System.

Request for Proposals

Solicitation Opening Date: 07 June 2021

Letter of Intent Due Date: 16 July 2021

Solicitation Closing Date: 10 September 2021

Organizations interested in submitting a proposal must send a letter of intent to gwrc@uwsuper.edu by 16 July 2021 that briefly describes the project and how it aligns with the goals of R&D Plan – Research Area 1, Project 3. Full proposals will be accepted until 5:00 pm CST on 10 September 2021.

Research Area 2: Development of a Great Lakes Relevant BWMS Testing Protocol

Figure 3. Proposed timing of Research Area 2 projects.

Figure 3. Proposed timing of Research Area 2 projects.

Research Area 3: Accelerating Development of Emerging Ballast Water Treatment Technologies

Figure 4. Proposed timing of Research Area 3 projects.

Figure 4. Proposed timing of Research Area 3 projects.

Research Area 4: Development of Ballast Water Indicative Monitoring Methods

Research Area 4: Development of Ballast Water Indicative Monitoring Methods

Figure 5. Proposed timing of Research Area 4 projects.

Figure 5. Proposed timing of Research Area 4 projects.

Research Area 5: Assessing the Risk of Aquatic Nuisance Species Transfer from Ballast Water Discharge

Research Area 5: Assessing the Risk of Aquatic Nuisance Species Transfer from Ballast Water Discharge

Figure 6. Proposed timing of Research Area 5 projects.

Figure 6. Proposed timing of Research Area 5 projects.