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EPA Announces 2012 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grants to Make Beaches Safer in Michigan and Wisconsin

Release Date: 08/28/2012
Contact Information: Phillippa Cannon, 312-353-6218, cannon.phillippa@epa.gov

For Immediate Release No. 12-OPA074

Chicago (August 28, 2012) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced seven Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants, totaling over $2.6 million, to improve water quality at Great Lakes beaches in Michigan and Wisconsin.

The grants were announced by EPA Regional Administrator and Great Lakes National Program Manager Susan Hedman at Samuel Myers Park in Racine, Wisconsin, at one of the beaches targeted for work under the grants.

“These Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants will improve water quality, allowing people to enjoy more days at Great Lakes beaches,” said Hedman. “The projects will make beaches safer, by eliminating harmful bacteria and other sources of contamination.”

Over the last three years, GLRI has provided more than $29 million for 78 projects to protect and restore Great Lakes beaches. This funding has paid for sanitary surveys at 400 beaches, allowing beach managers to identify contamination sources and to implement projects that reduce or eliminate pollution. The GLRI has also funded eight projects to better forecast beach conditions and to develop technologies such as Smartphone apps to issue real-time alerts about swimming bans and beach closures.

Projects announced today include:


    $1 million (two grants of $500,000 each) to the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh to redesign eight Wisconsin beaches to reduce bacteria levels, resulting in fewer swimming bans and beach closures. The beaches are: Red Arrow Park Beach, Marinette; Crescent Beach, Algoma; Red Arrow Park Beach, Manitowoc; Thompson West End Park, Washburn; Grant Park, South Milwaukee; Samuel Myers Park, Racine; and Simmons Island and Eichelman Parks, Kenosha.


    $179,700 to the City of Marquette, Michigan, to lower health risks and to improve water quality at two Lake Superior beaches in Marquette by using green management practices to reduce contamination.


    $500,000 to the City of Marysville, Michigan, to install rain gardens and other green infrastructure to reduce contaminated stormwater runoff and to deter geese at Chrysler Beach on the St. Clair River.


    $500,000 to the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority for green infrastructure to reduce contaminated stormwater runoff at Lake St. Clair Metropark (Metro Beach.)


    $217,015 to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to construct rain gardens, plant native grass and install a filtration system to improve water quality and reduce health risks at Sherman Park and Four Mile beaches in Sault Ste. Marie.


    $263,188 to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to build a green stormwater infiltration system at New Buffalo City Beach to reduce bacteria and nutrient levels.

The GLRI, initially proposed by President Obama in February 2009, is the largest investment in the Great Lakes in over two decades. EPA is one of 16 federal agencies working to implement the GLRI Action Plan, which is available at http://www.glri.us.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grants to Make Beaches Safer in Michigan and Wisconsin

City of Marquette, Michigan

Making Lake Superior Beaches Safer through Green Practices

Grant awarded: $179,700

This project supports the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, pursuant to Public Law 112-74. The City of Marquette - Making Beaches Safer Project will reduce risks to human health and improve water quality at two Lake Superior beaches in the City of Marquette, Michigan by implementing green management practices to reduce bacteriological, algal and chemical contamination that have been identified through the use of Great Lakes beach sanitary surveys.

City of Marysville, Michigan

Chrysler Beach Stormwater Improvements

Grant awarded: $500,000

This project supports the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, pursuant to Public Law 112-74. Stormwater and excess Canada goose populations are causing elevated E. coli concentrations at Chrysler Beach on the St. Clair River. Stormwater runoff from two beach parking lots is currently captured in traditional storm drain systems and is discharged just upstream of the beach. Rain gardens will be installed as “green infrastructure” at both parking lots to filter the majority of stormwater runoff. Vegetation will be planted to deter geese from congregating at the beach. Impervious surfaces at the beach will be reduced, and the stormwater outfall that discharges to the beach will be redirected. These activities are expected to improve the water quality and reduce the number of beach closings.

Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority, Michigan

Reducing the Impact of Stormwater at Lake St. Clair Metropark (Metro Beach)

Grant awarded: $500,000

This project supports the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, pursuant to Public Law 112-74. Stormwater at Lake St. Clair Metropark (Metro Beach) is currently captured in a traditional storm drain system and discharged to Lake St. Clair. Pollutants from automobiles and waterfowl that congregate in the parking lot negatively affect stormwater quality and contribute to beach closings (49 in last 3 years). Passive biological treatment systems will be used to reduce stormwater runoff and improve water quality. An additional 1.2 acres of pavement will be removed (11.5 acres were removed under Phase I of the project funded in 2011) and converted to panels of grass and native vegetation to capture runoff and direct it to the marsh. Further, the applicant will construct deep swales within the parking lot below the stormwater system, cut the existing storm pipes, and intercept the water in the swales, thereby eliminating all of the stormwater directly entering Black Creek/Lake St. Clair.



Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

Chippewa County Beach Restoration

Grant awarded: $217,015

This project supports the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, pursuant to Public Law 112-74. Implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs) will restore water quality and reduce health risks at two beaches in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, that have large numbers of visitors. BMPs to be installed include a rain garden, infiltration trenches, small dunes, plantings of native beach grass, a filtration system, and riprap.

New Buffalo Green Stormwater Project

Grant awarded: $263,188

This project supports the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, pursuant to Public Law 112-74. The New Buffalo City Beach is impacted by beach closures, caused largely by excessive amounts of E. coli. This project involves construction of a green storm water infiltration system at the beach, and will reduce E. coli and nutrients. Runoff will be conveyed from E. coli sources to a 0.5-acre green stormwater infiltration area along the Galien River. Drainage from the E. coli source areas is proposed to be captured through a combination of catch basins, piping and open channels. The drainage will flow through filtration areas into a treatment area containing a variety of hydrophilic vegetation (i.e., a “rain garden”) which will capture nonpoint source stormwater runoff from the surrounding area and deter waterfowl.

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

Implementation of Beach Redesigns at Northern Wisconsin Beaches

Grant awarded: $500,000

This project supports the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, pursuant to Public Law 112-74. In this project, four beaches in northern Wisconsin will be redesigned to reduce any potential threats to human health caused by bacteria in the beach environment. The redesign plans will incorporate a variety of measures, including: developing a system of swales and small dunes between parking areas and the beach to intercept and filter contaminated stormwater runoff; raising the profile of the beach to allow the sand areas to dry out more quickly, removing jetties to reduce the presence of stagnant water near the beach, and installing vegetated areas around the parking lot area to allow runoff to infiltrate and to provide cover for waterfowl predators (thereby lessening the unsanitary impacts of gulls and other waterfowl).

Implementation of Beach Redesigns at Southern Wisconsin Beaches

Grant awarded: $500,000

This project supports the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, pursuant to Public Law 112-74. In this project, four beaches in southern Wisconsin will be redesigned to reduce potential threats to human health caused by bacteria in the beach environment. The beach redesigns will incorporate a variety of measures, including: installing rain gardens or wetland cells to retain and filter contaminated stormwater from nearby paved surface areas; encouraging dune formation to reduce the impacts of stormwater runoff and to make the beach environment less attractive to gulls; modifying beach grooming practices to reduce the presence of bacteria; and implementing activities such as increasing the number of trash receptacles on the beach and discouraging the feeding of gulls and other waterfowl to lessen their unsanitary impacts.