U.S. EPA seeks applications for Trash-Free Great Lakes program


Laura Johnston - Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland (TNS)



CLEVELAND, Ohio — The EPA is now seeking applications for $2 million in grants to clean up the Great Lakes.

Projects to remove and prevent marine and shoreline trash are eligible for grants up to $500,000, as part of the annual $300 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The deadline for applications is Feb. 14, 2020.

“Combatting freshwater and marine litter – and preventing trash from reaching our waterways in the first place – is one of EPA’s highest priorities,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a news release. “Through the Trash-Free Great Lakes Grant Program, EPA will support communities in cleaning up beaches and waterways so that the Great Lakes watershed will continue to provide habitat for wildlife as well as drinking water and recreation for the tens of millions of people it serves for generations to come.”

After Trump planned to eviscerate the Great Lakes initiative, the EPA in October released a five-year plan that calls for monitoring and containing invasive species like Asian carp, preventing agricultural runoff that’s caused harmful algal blooms, and cleaning up polluted water bodies including Lake Erie’s Cuyahoga and Maumee rivers.

Local environmental groups – including Surfrider, Alliance for the Great Lakes and Drink Local. Drink Tap – said last fall they are interested in applying for grants. But some experts say the money will do little to solve the problem of 22 million pounds of plastic dumped into the Great Lakes each year.

Eligible projects include:

— Great Lakes beach and shoreline cleanup projects, which could include funding for single entities to organize clean ups in multiple communities. The maximum grant amount is $300,000 per project.

— Great Lakes harbor and river cleanup projects, which could include the purchase of trash collection and removal equipment capable of operating in water. The maximum grant amount is $500,000 per project.

— State agencies, federally recognized tribes and tribal consortia, any agency or instrumentality of local governments, nonprofit organizations, interstate agencies, and colleges and universities are eligible to apply for the grants.

EPA will host a webinar on January 7, 2020, at 2 p.m. to provide additional information and answer questions.

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Laura Johnston

Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland (TNS)

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