EPA Grant Helps Superior Watershed Partnership Prevent Swimming Advisories
Posted on: September 15, 2017
Keweenaw Peninsula Island
A Lake Superior island off Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. (Photo courtesy of GreatLakesPhotography.net and the Superior Watershed Partnership.)
MARQUETTE, MICHIGAN – The EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) recently announced the award of a $288,500 grant to the Superior Watershed Partnership (SWP) to implement an innovative large scale green infrastructure project that will protect Lake Superior water quality, help prevent public beach closures and restore Great Lakes coastal wetlands.
[Editor’s note – Superior Watershed Partnership Executive Director Carl Linquist will be attending the Sept. 28/29 Climate Change Forum being held at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay. Carl is a panelist in the 9:00 a.m., Sept. 29th session entitled, Climate Change Impacts on Lake Superior and its Watersheds]

The SWP, in cooperation with the City of Marquette, will address urban runoff impairments by relocating an open-channel stormwater drain adjacent to Hawley Street that currently discharges directly across a public beach into Lake Superior.  Relocation of the outfall of this storm drain (100 % disconnection) into an adjacent coastal wetland restoration project will provide a consistent source of hydrology to the wetlands (12 acres), and reduce documented human health risks as well as water quality impacts to the nearshore waters of Lake Superior and adjacent public beaches.

“This is a great example of a local non-profit working with the city to better protect Lake Superior. The project not only reduces storm water runoff to Lake Superior it also restores coastal wetlands that help filter pollutants and provide important habitat for wildlife” according to Geraldine Grant, SWP Senior Planner. The project also includes the Great Lakes Conservation Corps to assist with native plant restoration.

The project will reduce water quality impacts and human health impacts (including e-coli bacteria levels) at public beaches identified through a previous EPA-funded Great Lakes beach monitoring project and provide consistent hydrology for the restored wetlands under changing climate conditions. The projected volume of stormwater that will be captured and filtered by the restored wetland habitat ranges between 7.5 million gallons and 9.1 million gallons per year under various climate scenarios (EPA National Stormwater Calculator).

“The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is a pretty competitive grant program, so the City of Marquette is thrilled to partner on this collaborative clean water project.  It’s a win-win; it saves city funding and it better protects Lake Superior” said Curt Goodman, the Director of Public Works and Utilities.

The project will result in significant measurable improvements in water quality in the nearshore waters of Lake Superior and public beaches in the City of Marquette and will help Marquette adapt to changing climate conditions including more frequent and intense storms, changing lake levels, and increasing Lake Superior water temperatures.  The proposed green infrastructure practices will also be resilient to temperature and precipitation changes.

The project will include an education and outreach component to raise public awareness about urban stormwater impacts and coastal habitat restoration. Project information will also be shared with the Great Lakes Beach Association, the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative as a model for urban stormwater management and coastal wetland habitat restoration.

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