September 8, 2020

Great Lakes and Lake Champlain Invasive Species program takes a big leap forward

University of Wisconsin-Superior chancellor Renée Wachter addresses members of the media at a press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 8, in Superior. Chancellor Wachter was joined at the event by EPA deputy administrator Doug Benevento, left, Rep. Tom Tiffany, Rep. Pete Stauber and EPA regional administrator Kurt Thiede (not pictured). Wisconsin State Senator Janet Bewley and Wisconsin Representative Nick Milroy were also present. UW-Superior’s Lake Superior Research Institute received $5 million for a major program devoted to assessing the risk of aquatic nuisance species introduction and spread via ballast water within the Great Lakes System and identifying ballast water management practices for use by commercial vessels to prevent this spread.

University of Wisconsin-Superior chancellor Renée Wachter addresses members of the media at a press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 8, in Superior. Chancellor Wachter was joined at the event by EPA deputy administrator Doug Benevento, left, Rep. Tom Tiffany, Rep. Pete Stauber and EPA regional administrator Kurt Thiede (not pictured). Wisconsin State Senator Janet Bewley and Wisconsin Representative Nick Milroy were also present. UW-Superior’s Lake Superior Research Institute received $5 million for a major program devoted to assessing the risk of aquatic nuisance species introduction and spread via ballast water within the Great Lakes System and identifying ballast water management practices for use by commercial vessels to prevent this spread.

UW-Superior's Lake Superior Research Institute will lead, manage the implementation of the projects described in the Great Lakes Ballast Water Research and Development Plan

The University of Wisconsin-Superior’s Lake Superior Research Institute (LSRI) received $5 million for a major program devoted to assessing the risk of aquatic nuisance species (ANS) introduction and spread via ballast water within the Great Lakes System and identifying ballast water management practices for use by commercial vessels to prevent this spread.

The LSRI along with U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MARAD) has been preparing a Great Lakes Ballast Water Research and Development Plan for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Water. The 21 projects outlined in this plan are being developed in accordance with the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain Invasive Species Program (GLLCISP), which was established by Congress through the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act of 2018 (VIDA). Per GLLCISP, the primary goal of this 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.

Collaborative Team

The LSRI will lead and manage the implementation of the projects described in the Great Lakes Ballast Water Research and Development Plan as part of the Great Waters Research Collaborative (GWRC), a multi-disciplinary research team that includes staff from LSRI, University of Minnesota Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute, and AMI Consulting Engineers, P.A. The plan implementation will be conducted over five years in cooperation with and with oversight from the MARAD. All project planning and implementation activities will be closely coordinated with, and communicated to, the U.S. EPA Office of Water, U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO), and the United States Coast Guard.

The GWRC is devoted to conducting high-quality environmental research and providing independent testing services to support green shipping and promote the sustainable industrial, commercial, and public use of the great freshwater bodies of the world. The GWRC is comprised of experienced researchers with diverse expertise; the team has more than 15 years of experience working together on ballast water research as part of the Great Ships Initiative and now LSRI’s GWRC.

“The LSRI is pleased to continue to address questions that still remain regarding the acceptable level of environmental risk associated with discharge of ANS in ballast water from laker vessels and the methods available for these vessels to manage their ballast water,” said Dr. Matthew TenEyck, director of the LSRI.

“This applied research approach is consistent with LSRI’s mission, capitalizes on regional expertise and partnerships and is a great fit for our university. The plan will also provide non-traditional learning and applied research opportunities for undergraduate students,” said UW-Superior chancellor Dr. Renee Wachter.

“The plan is being designed to provide critical data to regional stakeholders, which will inform data-driven decision-making with regard to ballast water management in the Great Lakes,” said Kelsey Prihoda, GWRC project manager. “We will be gathering data on the unique aspects of Great Lakes water quality and biology and the operational characteristics of U.S. and Canadian vessels that trade within the Great Lakes and applying those data to several projects assessing the biological efficacy of a variety of ballast water management strategies that could be employed. At the same time, we are examining the cost associated with these strategies and are also determining what resources are needed to accelerate Great Lakes-specific ballast water treatment technology development.”

“I was pleased to witness firsthand the great work happening at UW-Superior’s Ballast Water Testing Facility, and I’m proud to see their important efforts continue with this federal investment,” said Senator Tammy Baldwin. “Thanks to this new funding, UW-Superior’s research hub will continue working to protect the Great Lakes from invasive species and threats to Wisconsin's water resources. Preserving the Great Lakes is not just an environmental goal - it is an economic necessity for Wisconsin. Making these strong, long-term investments will better help UW-Superior ensure that our Great Lakes are protected and preserved for generations to come.”

Current GWRC projects include constructing a publicly-available Great Lakes Port Conditions Database to improve understanding of the challenge conditions in which BWMS must operate, verifying ballast water compliance monitoring devices for use within the Great Lakes System, researching the effectiveness of ballast water best management practices utilized onboard Great Lakes commercial vessels, research and development testing of ballast treatment technologies at the Montreal Pier Research Facility, and laboratory testing of prototype ballast treatment processes, all with funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative via the MARAD.

Stakeholder Involvement

Given the magnitude, complexity, and importance of the Great Lakes Ballast Water Research and Development Plan, stakeholder involvement will be critical to each project’s successful design, implementation and dissemination of project results. A binational stakeholder group, consisting of U.S. and Canadian federal entities, Tribal agencies, Great Lakes states and provinces, U.S. and Canadian shipping companies, and others will be formed and engaged as early as possible in the design of the projects. This group will be involved throughout the five-year implementation period.

University of Wisconsin-Superior chancellor Renée Wachter addresses members of the media at a press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 8, in Superior. Chancellor Wachter was joined at the event by EPA deputy administrator Doug Benevento, left, Rep. Tom Tiffany, Rep. Pete Stauber and EPA regional administrator Kurt Thiede (not pictured). Wisconsin State Senator Janet Bewley and Wisconsin Representative Nick Milroy were also present. UW-Superior’s Lake Superior Research Institute received $5 million for a major program devoted to assessing the risk of aquatic nuisance species introduction and spread via ballast water within the Great Lakes System and identifying ballast water management practices for use by commercial vessels to prevent this spread.

University of Wisconsin-Superior chancellor Renée Wachter addresses members of the media at a press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 8, in Superior. Chancellor Wachter was joined at the event by EPA deputy administrator Doug Benevento, left, Rep. Tom Tiffany, Rep. Pete Stauber and EPA regional administrator Kurt Thiede (not pictured). Wisconsin State Senator Janet Bewley and Wisconsin Representative Nick Milroy were also present. UW-Superior’s Lake Superior Research Institute received $5 million for a major program devoted to assessing the risk of aquatic nuisance species introduction and spread via ballast water within the Great Lakes System and identifying ballast water management practices for use by commercial vessels to prevent this spread.

The University of Wisconsin-Superior Lake Superior Research Institute has created a website to host the plan and post results as part of its commitment to deliver the latest project updates in one convenient location. Public questions and comments on the plan may be emailed.

Founded in 1967, the University of Wisconsin-Superior Lake Superior Research Institute is a leader in applied environmental research. LSRI offers a wide range of research products and services designed to directly benefit the people, industries, and natural resources of the Upper Midwest, the Great Lakes region, and beyond.

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