From: Robin Blackstone, ENN
Published April 29, 2014 10:58 AM

The EPA is enhancing sustainability: one Great Lake at a time

Two Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants were awarded on Friday totaling $1 million earmarked towards Chicago green infrastructure projects. The projects will improve water quality in Lake Michigan. The infrastructure projects will prevent stormwater from carrying contamination into Lake Michigan.



Great Lakes National Program Manager, Susan Hedman said. "Green infrastructure also helps to prevent flooding, which is occurring more often as a result of the increasingly frequent extreme precipitation events that have hit the Midwest in recent years – a pattern that may intensify as the result of climate change."

These improvements will directly benefit residents, businesses and the environment. They will enhance Chicago's overall Green Stormwater Infrastructure Strategy by improving the water and sewer systems, reducing flooding, enhancing sustainability.

"Lake Michigan is one of Chicago's greatest assets, but it faces many challenges – from contaminated sediment to industrial pollutants to invasive species," Sen. Dick Durbin said. "The Environmental Protection Agency has invested more than $70 million to ensure the lake stays beautiful and clean for years to come, and today's announcement is the latest example of the federal government's commitment to the lake. These grants will help stop almost 5 million gallons of untreated stormwater from running into the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, great news for the millions of Chicagoans who rely on the lake for drinking water or fishing."

The city will use one grant ($812,000) to install bioswales and permeable pavement at Montrose Beach to filter over 4 million gallons of stormwater annually, greatly reducing the amount of contamination that would flow into Lake Michigan. The city will use the second grant ($188,000) to install green infrastructure in a neighborhood that drains toward the lakefront. This project will prevent almost 900,000 gallons of untreated stormwater from entering the City's combined sewer system annually and ease basement flooding in nearby homes.

The projects will reduce flooding risk, improve the ability to treat stormwater and urban runoff at its source, and ensure the vital source of fresh water for millions of Chicagoans and it surrounding community. Chicago is among 16 cities to receive funding in the initial round of EPA's new GLRI Shoreline Cities grant program. These grants can be used to fund up to 50 percent of the cost of green infrastructure projects on public property. Green infrastructure uses vegetation, soil and natural processes to hold and filter stormwater and melting snow preventing flooding and contamination from reaching surface water and groundwater resources. The first round of projects includes rain gardens, bioswales, green roofs, porous pavement, greenways, constructed wetlands, stormwater tree trenches and other measures to improve water quality in the Great Lakes basin.

Read more at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Chicago skyline image via Shutterstock. 

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