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EPA awards over $9 million in GLRI funding for projects to reduce excess nutrients in the Great Lakes

U.S. EPA Seal

(April 14, 2020) Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced fifteen Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grants totaling $9,056,711 to fund projects addressing excess nutrient runoff from nonpoint sources, including stormwater and agriculture, to the Great Lakes. 

These grants are part of a larger effort to restore and protect the Great Lakes under GLRI Action Plan III, which was unveiled by EPA Administrator Wheeler in October 2019. The Action Plan provides an aggressive roadmap that will guide Great Lakes restoration and protection activities by EPA and its many partners over the next 5 years.

The grants announced today include (by category):

Riparian Restoration to Reduce Runoff to the Maumee River:

  • $734,548 to Lucas County (Ohio)
    Lucas County will plan, design and construct a “two-stage ditch” in Van Fleet Ditch, located within the Swan Creek subwatershed of the Maumee River watershed. The installation of the two-stage ditch will result in the creation of 3.9 acres of total riparian area and 3,050 linear feet of new floodplain. By slowing and capturing run-off, the project will ultimately reduce annual loads of phosphorus, sediment and nitrogen.

Green Infrastructure to Reduce Stormwater Runoff:

  • $600,000 to Milwaukee Board of School Directors (Wisconsin)
    The Milwaukee Public School System will implement green infrastructure design methods at five Milwaukee schools, transforming impervious school yards into areas that can absorb and capture stormwater runoff. The project will result in a capture capacity of 3.1 million gallons of stormwater runoff annually.
  • $400,000 to The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay (Michigan)
    The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay project will reduce the volume of stormwater and associated contaminants entering Grand Traverse Bay from the Village of Elk Rapids, a coastal community on Lake Michigan. The project will employ green infrastructure techniques by installing an underground infiltration trench and retrofitting existing street side bump-out areas with rain gardens to infiltrate approximately 2.8 million gallons of stormwater runoff annually.
  • $202,390 to Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (Michigan)
    The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) will oversee the installation of 30 new curb-cut rain gardens in the Plaster Creek subwatershed, of Lower Grand River watershed, which flows into Lake Michigan. The project will capture a minimum of 1,033,080 gallons annually of urban stormwater runoff.
  • $200,000 to Conservation Resource Alliance (Michigan)
    The Conservation Resource Alliance will implement a 2-year project to reduce runoff, improve habitat and provide shade cover for cold water streams in northwest Michigan, which drain into Lake Michigan. The project will improve wildlife habitat, provide tree/shade cover for world-class cold water streams, reduce runoff by 1.8 million gallons annually, and reduce sediment and nutrient inputs.
  • $400,145 to Macatawa Area Coordinating Council (Michigan)
    The Macatawa Area Coordinating Council will partner with the City of Holland to reduce runoff and improve water quality in the Macatawa watershed (including Lake Macatawa, which is a drowned river mouth that empties in Lake Michigan).  The project will install bioswales and permeable pavement at two City properties (City Hall and Kollen Park) and curb-cut rain gardens in City parkways, capturing about 3 million gallons of stormwater annually.
  • $336,500 to City of Erie (Pennsylvania)
    The City of Erie will install 25 soil cells, plant 25 new trees, and make improvements for 52 existing trees in the downtown area to improve water quality in Presque Isle Bay, along urban beaches and shorelines, and Lake Erie. The soil cells are designed to reduce surface stormwater runoff through catchment systems that allow water to be discharged into subsoils, which promotes infiltration and absorption by trees roots instead flowing directly into Presque Isle Bay.  The project will infiltrate about 100,000 gallons of stormwater per 0.5-inch rain event.

Manure Management to Reduce Excess Nutrient Runoff from Farms:

  • $413,362 to Van Buren Conservation District (Michigan)
    The Van Buren Conservation District will reduce excess nutrient and pathogen runoff in the Paw Paw River Watershed. The project implements a comprehensive system of practices on areas with known high soil phosphorus due to manure application. The project will partner with producers, University of Notre Dame researchers, crop consultants and an agricultural drainage specialist from Michigan State University to implement a comprehensive system of practices on areas with known high soil phosphorus due to manure application. The project will prevent 3 million gallons of manure from being spread per year on 320 acres in the Paw Paw River watershed. 
  • $747,855 to Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance (Wisconsin)
    The Fox Wolf Watershed Alliance will partner with Fond du Lac County to implement enhanced nutrient management on 450 acres in the Pipe Creek watershed. The project will work with farmers to overcome barriers to adoption of practices including cover crop and no-till. The project will result in a reduction of 1,314 lbs of phosphorus to the Lower Fox River and Green Bay. 
  • $500,000 to Chippewa Luce Mackinac Conservation District (Michigan)
    The Chippewa Luce Mackinac Conservation District (CLMCD) will implement manure management practices at high priority sites in the Munuscong River and the Little Munuscong River watersheds, which are sub-basins within the St. Mary’s River watershed. The project will result in reductions of annual loadings of over 500 tons of sediment, 1,000 pounds of nitrogen, and 650 pounds of phosphorus.

Accelerating Adoption of Nutrient Management through Farmer-led Outreach and Education:

  • $999,670 to Michigan State University (Michigan)
    Michigan State University (MSU) will develop and implement a program to increase adoption of nutrient management practices in the Saginaw River watershed through peer-to-peer farmer networks, engaging existing farmer leaders in the watershed.  The project will implement nutrient management practices on at least new 7,800 acres, preventing at least 900 lbs of phosphorus leaving agricultural fields during the project period. 
  • $951,328 to American Farmland Trust (Washington D.C.; New York)
    American Farmland Trust will work with a diverse set of partners to accelerate adoption of soil regenerative and nutrient management practices in the Genesee River Watershed through on-farm demonstrations and farmer-led training and outreach. The project will engage 1,300 farmers, landowners, and advisors and prevent loadings of approximately 45 lbs of phosphorus, 30 tons of sediment, and 7,500 lbs of nitrogen to the Genesee River during the project period. 
  • $999,599 to The Nature Conservancy (Ohio)
    The Nature Conservancy will work with multiple partners to train 60 farmers in the Maumee River Watershed to become technical experts and community leaders for sustainable agriculture and engage another 3,000 farmers in education and outreach activities. The project will train 60 farmers in the Maumee River Watershed to become technical experts and community leaders for sustainable agriculture.  These farmers will engage another 3,000 farmers in education and outreach activities, which may lead to adoption of new best management practices on 400,000 acres and 100,000 pounds of phosphorus reduced. 
  • $912,054 to Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance, Inc. (Wisconsin)
    Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance will partner with Outagamie County Land Conservation Department to work with producers in the Plum Creek and Kankapot Creek Watersheds in the Lower Fox River Basin, Wisconsin through demonstration field days and producer meetings to overcome adoption barriers of enhanced nutrient management, including consistent use of cover crops and no-till practices. The project will reduce loadings of 1,107 lbs of phosphorus and 167 tons of sediment annually.
  • $659,260 to University of Akron Research Foundation (Ohio)
    The University of Akron Research Foundation (UARF) will develop and implement a farmer-led outreach and education program in the Maumee River watershed of the Western Lake Erie basin, resulting in implementation of drainage ditch improvements on 665 acres. The project will demonstrate how deep-rooted prairie vegetation in combination with other management practices can significantly increase soil organic matter and reduce excess nutrient runoff.