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EPA requests applications for $2 million in funding for Great Lakes trash-free water projects

For the first time, GLRI grants available to keep trash out of the Great Lakes

Contact Information: 
Rhiannon Dee (

For Immediate Release: No. 19-OPA129

CHICAGO (Dec.16, 2019) –Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is seeking applications under a newly developed Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant program focused on keeping trash out of the Great Lakes. Approximately $2 million is available through the Trash-Free Great Lakes program to fund up to 12 projects. 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," said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. "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."

The trash-free water projects EPA selects will support the larger effort to restore and protect the Great Lakes through the GLRI. In October, EPA Administrator 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.

“This first-of-its-kind grant program will once again rely upon the collaboration and strong partnerships which have fueled progress and so many successes under the GLRI,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator/Great Lakes National Program Manager Cathy Stepp. "This funding will help communities across the Great Lakes basin ensure that their beaches, shorelines and waterways are trash-free.”

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 1 p.m. CST to provide additional information and answer questions. To register for the webinar or learn more about the request for applications, visit


The GLRI was launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the Great Lakes. Federal agencies have funded more than 4,700 projects totaling over $2.4 billion to address the most important Great Lakes priorities such as addressing agricultural nutrients and stormwater runoff, cleaning up highly-contaminated "Areas of Concern," combating invasive species and restoring habitat. Making GLRI funding available through a competitive application process is just one way that the GLRI achieves results.

EPA works directly with states, municipalities, and businesses through its Trash-Free Waters program to reduce litter, prevent trash from entering waterways, and capture trash that is already in our waters.

For more information on the GLRI, visit