Great Lakes water quality grants issued by EPA

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NEW YORK, NY, Oct. 2, 2012 -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $1.4 million to five organizations to work on invasive species in New York State. These grants are among 21 invasive species grants awarded this year through the EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, nationwide.

"Invasive species is a very serious problem facing the Great Lakes," said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “These EPA grants will help prevent larger costs and damage to the environment in the future and will help ensure the continued revitalization of western New York’s economy."

The grants announced today for work in New York State are:

Paul Smith's College of Arts & Sciences - $399,891
Lake Ontario Headwaters Watercraft Inspection Program
This project will prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species in the headwaters of eastern Lake Ontario by allowing Paul Smith's College to conduct a new round of watercraft inspections at public boat launches in western Adirondack Park. Inspectors will provide recreational boaters with information about the risks that invasive species pose and will remove watercraft-borne invasive species when they identify them in their inspections.

Central Michigan University - $356,154
Assessing Aquatic Invasive Species Risk in the Erie Canal Corridor
Through this project, Central Michigan University will assess the risks presented by aquatic invasive species to the Erie Canal Corridor by cataloging non-native species in the Mohawk-Hudson River and Lake Champlain basins and identifying currently-restricted invasive species that have the potential to spread into the canal. By using environmental DNA surveys, the project will help define the scope of the invasive species problem in the Erie Canal, find potential invasion pathways and identify future surveillance needs.

The Nature Conservancy - $315,059
Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention and Monitoring in the Eastern Great Lakes Basin
The Nature Conservancy will develop models that predict the spread of Hydrilla verticillata and other aquatic invasive species across the New York, northwestern Pennsylvania, and eastern Ohio portion of the Great Lakes basin. The Nature Conservancy will also survey for targeted invasive species and will use this information to plan, promote, and develop local invasive species control projects.

Cornell University - $227,484
Working with Recreational Anglers and Boaters to Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species
Cornell will increase efforts by government agencies and nongovernmental organizations in the Lake Ontario region to communicate with anglers and boaters about the risks that invasive species pose to the Great Lakes and to discourage actions that contribute to the spread of invasive species.

Research Foundation of SUNY-Buffalo State College - $99,756
Improving the Early Detection of Invasive Ponto-Caspian Fishes in the Great Lakes
SUNY- Buffalo State College will assess the invasive potential for high-risk Ponto-Caspian fish from European shipping ports. The college will then assess Great Lakes ports to identify high-risk locations and time periods that are a strong habitat match for these high-risk invasive fish. This data will be used to focus surveillance and early detection efforts for invasive Ponto-Caspian fish likely to adapt to the waters of the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes provide some 30 million Americans with drinking water and help support a multi-billion dollar economy. This year, the EPA is awarding $40 million in grants for community-based efforts to address five priorities, which include:

Cleaning up toxics and toxic hot spots around the Great Lakes
Combating invasive species
Promoting near shore health by protecting watersheds from polluted runoff
Restoring wetlands and other habitats
Accountability and working with strategic partners on outreach

In addition to the EPA, the federal agencies that make up the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force are:

White House Council on Environmental Quality
U.S. Department of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Commerce
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of the Army
U.S. Department of Interior
U.S. Department of Transportation

For more information on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and this year's grants, visit: http://glri.us.

Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://twitter.com/eparegion2 and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/eparegion2.

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