A cleaner, healthier Great Lakes region is a win for everyone. Commerce, the environment, and our quality of life all have a stake in these interconnected water bodies, which hold a fifth of the world’s fresh water and are a vital international shipping corridor for the U.S. and Canada.
Lawmakers agree: For nearly 20 years, Congress has demonstrated bipartisan support for this idea through the Great Lakes Legacy Act (GLLA), a federal cost-sharing program to clean up Areas of Concern (AOC), areas highly impaired by legacy contamination. Since 2004, the GLLA has connected public and private partners to complete 35 sediment remediation projects worth $1.1 trillion.
The success stories, such as the two decades of restoration in the St. Louis River Estuary, are numerous. Yet, there is much work to be done and money to help pay for it.
The Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO), which implements GLLA projects on behalf of the U.S. EPA, is seeking non-federal sponsors to champion new projects. The program, with at least $300 million available per year through 2026, requires a minimum non-federal cost share of 35% for remediation, with the EPA chipping in the remainder.
In addition to sharing the cost, GLNPO involvement offers a variety of other benefits like shared responsibility, technical support, and stakeholder coordination, all of which can help transform a waterfront site from a potential liability to a clean and healthy reality.
“Any company in the footprint of an AOC should really be thinking about this as a great opportunity,” said Jamie Bankston, a senior environmental engineer at Barr. “GLNPO operates as a partner with the non-federal sponsor, and their methods for coming up with effective remedies have proven successful again and again.”
Jamie is part of a sediment remediation group at Barr with expertise on the GLNPO process, benefits, and limitations. This group offers insights into the pre-evaluation phase, advises potential partners about the program, and facilitates engagement with GLNPO. Often, this Barr team remains involved in the project through investigation, feasibility, design, and implementation.
To learn more about the cost-sharing program and how to leverage the available funds, contact our team.
About the authors
Jamie Bankston, vice president, senior environmental engineer, has served as a principal in charge, project manager, or technical lead for projects involving contaminated site investigation, evaluation, design, permitting, construction quality assurance, environmental review, and regulatory negotiations.
Eric Hedblom, vice president, senior geologist, has more than 30 years of experience with soil and sediment investigations, remediation, and restoration in a variety of industrial and natural settings. He has served public and private clients on projects including sediment investigation, remediation, and restoration involving dredging, capping, and monitored natural recovery; bench- and pilot-scale experimental design, and compliance with local, state, and federal regulatory requirements.