U.S. EPA Awards $15 Million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grant to Clean Up Black River Area of Concern on Lake Erie

U.S Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator/Great Lakes National Program Manager Susan Hedman today announced a $15 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant – the largest single GLRI grant awarded to date by EPA – to the city of Lorain for restoration work in the Black River Area of Concern on Lake Erie. The Black River AOC is on the binational list of toxic hotspots that have been targeted for cleanup under the U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur and Mayor Chase Ritenauer joined Hedman at Black River Landing to highlight the projects that will be funded by this GLRI grant.

“This new Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding will accelerate restoration work needed to protect Lake Erie and to clean up the Black River Area of Concern,” Hedman said. “This work will reduce threats to public health and restore native habitat along the Black River.”

“This generous award will help Lorain and the surrounding communities write the final chapter of the Black River’s extraordinary recovery,” U.S. Rep. Kaptur said. “Lorain is working hard and taking great steps to renew its riverfront and lakefront as essential elements to build toward a vibrant future. Once successful, this transformative effort will prove that, through collaboration and stewardship, we can pull our precious freshwater resources back from the brink and restore them to health. The Black River is not only an important natural resource and fresh water habitat, it is also critical to the economic revitalization of the City of Lorain. This kind of ecological and economic transformation is something I have fought for over the course of many years. It is also central to the mission of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which I have long supported. Each piece of the ecological puzzle that we restore brings us that much closer to reestablishing the natural systems that have kept Northern Ohio’s water safe and her ecosystems healthy for millennia. Thank you to U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman, Cam Davis with the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the city of Lorain, and everyone involved for making this important announcement possible.”

“In Ohio, we’ve seen the impact that threats to Lake Erie have on our economy, water supply, and wildlife populations,” U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said. “The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is critical to our efforts to improve the health of our Great Lakes. This funding will allow Lorain to improve the quality of the Black River and protect Lake Erie.”

“This is welcome news for the city of Lorain as it will support continued efforts to improve and protect the environmental integrity of the Black River while ensuring this area can remain a popular tourist attraction,” U.S. Sen. Rob Portman stated. “This is about the revitalization of downtown Lorain and ecological restoration and I am pleased with today’s announcement.”

Over the next two years, the city of Lorain will remove 24 acres of contaminated sediment from the Black River floodplain and create in-stream habitat for native fish and other aquatic species. In addition, more than 500,000 cubic yards of steel mill byproducts will be removed from the river’s floodplain. Since 2010, GLRI funding totaling $23 million – including approximately $16 million from EPA – has been awarded for restoration projects in the Black River AOC.

“The city of Lorain is thrilled to accept these funds to complete several projects critical to the restoration of water quality and biological integrity within the Black River,” Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer said. “We see the restoration and protection of our water resources as a critical mission and are pleased to be working cooperatively with several agencies to achieve this important goal. The City wishes to thank the U.S. EPA Region 5, Great Lakes National Program Office, the Ohio EPA, and the Black River Area of Concern Advisory Committee for their partnership and support, without which the development and implementation of these restoration initiatives would not be possible. We look forward to the successful completion of these projects and the many benefits that will be achieved.”

“Today we can witness the importance of having an effective plan for Lorain’s waterfront and celebrate new GLRI funding to restore the Black River’s confluence with Lake Erie,” Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler said.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world. Since then, three U.S. Great Lakes Areas of Concern have been cleaned up and taken off the bi-national list of Areas of Concern: the Presque Isle Bay AOC (on Lake Erie in Pennsylvania), the Deer Lake AOC (on Lake Superior in Michigan) and the White Lake AOC (on Lake Michigan in Michigan). Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding has also been used to complete all necessary restoration actions at three additional Areas of Concern: the Waukegan Harbor AOC (on Lake Michigan in Illinois), the Sheboygan River AOC (on Lake Michigan in Wisconsin) and the Ashtabula River AOC (on Lake Erie in Ohio). Environmental monitoring is ongoing at those AOCs to assess their eligibility for delisting. GLRI funding is also being used to accelerate cleanup work in all remaining Areas of Concern on the U.S. side of the border.

For more information about the GLRI, visit http://www.glri.us/.

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