Great Lakes Initiative

Great Lakes Initiative

EPA and States Have Made Progress, but Much Remains to Be Done If Water Quality Goals Are to Be Achieved : Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, House of Representatives

Printed Ephemera - 2008
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Millions of people in the United States and Canada depend on the Great Lakes for drinking water, recreation, and economic livelihood. During the 1970s, it became apparent that pollutants discharged into the Great Lakes Basin from point sources, such as industrial and municipal facilities, or from nonpoint sources, such as air emissions from power plants, were harming the Great Lakes. Some of these pollutants, known as bioaccumulative chemicals of concern (BCC), pose risks to fish and other species as well as to the humans and wildlife that consume them. In 1995, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the Great Lakes Initiative (GLI). The GLI established water quality criteria to be used by states to establish pollutant discharge limits for some BCCs and other pollutants that are discharged by point sources. The GLI also allows states to include flexible permit implementation procedures (flexibilities) that allow facilities' discharges to exceed GLI criteria. This testimony is based on GAO's July 2005 report, Great Lakes Initiative: EPA Needs to Better Ensure the Complete and Consistent Implementation of Water Quality Standards (GAO-05-829) and updated information from EPA and the Great Lakes states. This statement addresses (1) the status of EPA's efforts to develop and approve methods to measure pollutants at the GLI water quality criteria levels, (2) the use of permit flexibilities, and (3) EPA's actions to implement GAO's 2005 recommendations.


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