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EPA announces finalists for GLRI grants to address nutrients in the Great Lakes

Projects to receive $11.5 million in funding, including $2 million for water-quality trading projects

Contact Information: 
Rhiannon Dee (

For Immediate Release: No. 19-OPA128

CHICAGO (Dec.19, 2019) – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it has selected 21 organizations to receive $11.5 million in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funding to address nutrient runoff from agriculture and stormwater nonpoint sources. This includes five innovative water-quality trading projects that will promote cost-effective and market-based approaches to reducing excess nutrients to surface waters.

“The projects we have selected support EPA’s new strategy for combatting excess nutrients in our Great Lakes,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Facilitating the adoption of innovative market-based solutions will ensure the Great Lakes basin remains safe and accessible to everyone who lives and works there.”      

These grants are part of the larger effort to restore and protect the Great Lakes through the GLRI. In October, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the GLRI Action Plan III, an aggressive plan that will guide Great Lakes restoration and protection activities by EPA and its many partners over the next 5 years.

“Partnership and collaboration is at the core of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and is the reason for its widespread bipartisan support,” said EPA Great Lakes National Program Manager and Regional Administrator Cathy Stepp. “I am committed to building on our tremendous successes as we redouble our efforts to tackle both persistent problems and emerging threats to our Great Lakes.”

EPA received 40 eligible applications across five categories. After an in-depth review process, 21 applicants were selected, with their proposed projects totaling $11.5 million. Selected finalists include five projects from the water-quality trading category. As part of the agency’s focus on Great Lakes restoration, EPA created this new grant category to spur investment and innovation in cost-effective and market-based approaches to reducing excess nutrients in surface waters.

The projects selected to receive funding include:

Water Quality Trading and other Market-based Approaches for Nutrient Reduction 

  • Delta Institute (Illinois, Michigan): Market-based Conservation in the Kalamazoo River Watershed; $303,181
  • Conservation Technology Information Center (Indiana, Ohio): Phosphorus load reduction trading program; $479,782
  • Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District (Wisconsin): Buffers on Ephemeral Headwaters in Fox River Sub-Watersheds; $338,438
  • Great Lakes Commission (Michigan): Conservation Kick: Connecting Communities; $290,000
  • Dairy Research Institute, Inc. (Illinois): Clearinghouse Design to Address Water Quality Trading Barriers; $437,000

Riparian Restoration to Reduce Runoff to the Maumee River

  • Hancock Park District (Ohio): Aurand Run Riparian Wetland Restoration Project; $651,800
  • Lucas County (Ohio): Two-Stage Ditch Restoration in Van Fleet Ditch; $734,548

Green Infrastructure to Reduce Stormwater Runoff

  • Milwaukee Board of School Directors (Wisconsin): Transforming Milwaukee’s Schoolyards into Stormwater Sponges; $600,000
  • Grand Traverse Bay Watershed Initiative (Michigan): Initiating Green Infrastructure Practices in Elk Rapids, $400,000
  • Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (Michigan): GLRI Grand River Rainscaping Partnership; $202,390
  • Conservation Resource Alliance (Michigan): Battling Rural Runoff Using Nature’s Infrastructure; $200,000
  • Macatawa Area Coordinating Council (Michigan): Greening of Stormwater in the Macatawa Watershed; $400,145
  • City of Erie (Pennsylvania): Downtown Erie Stormwater Green Infrastructure; $336,500

Manure Management to Reduce Nutrient Runoff from Farms

  • Van Buren Conservation District (Michigan): Mitigating Manure Runoff in the Pine & Mill Creek Subwatersheds; $413,362
  • Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance (Wisconsin): Pipe Farmers: Manage Nutrients, Improve Soil and Protect Water; $747,855
  • Chippewa-Luce-Mackinac Conservation District (Michigan): Munuscong River Watershed Manure Management of High Priority Sites Identified within the Munuscong River Watershed Management Plan; $500,000

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

  • Michigan State University (Michigan): Accelerating Nutrient Management Adoption in the Saginaw Watershed; $999,670
  • American Farmland Trust (Washington D.C., New York): Engaging Farmer Networks and Landowners in the Genesee River Watershed; $951,328
  • The Nature Conservancy (Ohio): Farmer Advocates for Conservation; $999,599
  • Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance, Inc. (Wisconsin): Fox Farmers: Accelerating Adoption of Nutrient Management through Farmer-led Outreach and Education; $912,054
  • University of Akron Research Foundation (Ohio): Integrated Vegetation-based Solutions to Farm Nutrient Management; $659,260

EPA has supported the use of water-quality trading, offsets and similar programs for achieving compliance with regulatory requirements of the Clean Water Act for many years. In February 2019, EPA issued a water quality trading memorandum that modernized the agency’s water quality trading policies to leverage emerging technologies and facilitate broader adoption of market-based programs that promote nutrient reductions and water quality improvements at a lower cost. The February 2019 memorandum is a part of the agency’s broader efforts to reduce nutrient losses through enhanced federal and state coordination and stakeholder engagement. In December 2018, EPA and USDA issued a letter to state co-regulators encouraging a reinvigoration of state, tribal, and federal efforts to reduce excess nutrients in waterways, with a focus on market-based and other collaborative approaches. In February 2019, EPA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Water Research Foundation to develop affordable technologies to recycle nutrients from livestock manure.

For more information on GLRI, please visit: