Improving Water Management in the Great Lakes Basin

A team led by the Great Lakes Commission is working with communities in the United States and Canada to identify and test the ecological and financial rationales for pursuing water conservation and green infrastructure practices, and pilot how this information can drive better water management throughout the Great Lakes region.

In order to be effective in the Great Lakes Region, the project team believes that water conservation must include strategies that impact municipal supply, stormwater, and wastewater, which involve engaging a different set of stakeholders than traditional water conservation programs.

The team will pilot this approach in six communities (three in the U.S., and three in Ontario). Participating communities include:

  • The Regional Municipality of Waterloo, Ontario;
  • The City of Waterloo, Ontario;
  • The City of Guelph, Ontario;
  • The Township of Lyons, Michigan;
  • The Township of Commerce, Michigan; and
  • Southwest Oakland County, Michigan.

These communities extract water from a variety of ground and surface water sources and face challenges that are common throughout the basin. These  include the overuse of groundwater supplies, stream impacts from water withdrawal and discharge, and impacts related to stormwater runoff

A detailed impact and infrastructure assessment will be conducted in each of the six pilot communities. This will include:

  • Developing a set of management actions for each community that will reduce environmental impacts and decrease costs;
  • Tracking the rate at which the pilot communities implement the recommended actions and calculating the environmental and financial impacts; and
  • Creating and testing a series of knowledge transfer strategies that will help communities teach other communities.

The team will transfer the tools created in the pilots to communities throughout the basin. New communities of practice will be created around the most promising techniques that have ecological importance and basinwide applicability.

The project team has already facilitated a webinar entitled “Extreme Makeover: How Six Model Municipalities Are Greening Their Water Management Program and Their Bottom Line.” The archived webinar and presentation slides are available at


For more information on this project, please contact John Jackson, Project Manager,, 519-744-7503; or  Christine Manninen, GLC Project Manager,, 734-971-9135.

Registration now open for the 2014 Great Lakes Green Chemistry Conference

2014 Great Lakes Green Chemistry Conference
Cleveland, OH
March 31-April 2, 2014
Register at

Learn first-hand about the business case for green chemistry and how companies can take advantage of technical assistance opportunities to help them move forward in their sustainability efforts. Network with others who are interested in adopting green chemistry principles to advance economic development and a healthy environment in the Great Lakes region.

Join leaders from industry, academia, government, non-profits, U.S. EPA Region 5, and those involved in the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable’s Safer Chemistry Challenge Program in Cleveland, OH from March 31-April 3, 2014. Conference events include:

  • Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable meeting (afternoon of March 31)
    • Meeting cost $15 to pay for food during mid-afternoon break
  • Great Lakes Green Chemistry Conference (April 1-2)
  • GreenScreen Training Workshop (April 3)
    • Cost: $150 ($95 for government agencies, NGOs, and educators)

See the conference web site for more information and to register.

Great Lakes Commission launches database of restoration projects

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) is improving habitat for fish, wildlife and people in communities across the eight-state Great Lakes region. The Great Lakes Restoration Database (GLRD) showcases projects implemented under the Initiative’s Habitat and Wildlife Protection and Restoration Focus Area in Fiscal Years 2010-2012 to increase awareness and improve communication on accomplishments in this important component of the restoration program.

The GLRD is a searchable database that enables users to search for projects using a variety of queries, including a key word search. A fact sheet can be generated for each project to provide more detailed information on its goals, objectives, location, recipient organization and contact. For more information on the GLRI visit

Key features include:

  • Detailed project descriptions, objectives, habitat restoration metrics, and contact information for recipient organizations formatted as printable fact sheets;
  • An interactive map to assist with project location;
  • Ability to search by keyword, state, funding agency, and one or more habitat metrics.

Live Streaming Webinars on Green Chemistry from the Great Lakes Conference November 13 and November 14

The use of Green Chemistry and Engineering in the market strategies of businesses throughout the Great Lakes region is growing as companies look for ways to meet consumer demand for products and processes that are more sustainable. Learn more about the Great Lakes Green Chemistry Conference at The conference agenda is available at

Participate in the conference by webinar November 13 and 14. Register for webinars by following Web Links for each session.

Great Lakes Green Chemistry Conference – Webinar 1
Tue, Nov 13, 2012 8:00 AM – 9:45 AM CST

  • Welcome – Jeff Burke, NPPR
  • Welcome from EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman
  • Morning Keynote – Paul Anastas, Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering at Yale University

Registration Web Link:

Great Lakes Green Chemistry Conference – Webinar 2
Tue, Nov 13, 2012 10:00 AM – 12:30 PM CST
Panel 1: The Business Case for Green Chemistry and Engineering
This panel will have speakers from companies who have successfully used the framework of green chemistry and who will talk about why they do this and what the benefits for their businesses have been.
Moderator: David Foulkes, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
Panelists: Leah Boyd, Washing Systems, LLC; Dorie Yontz, Segetis; Andy Corr, Elevance, LLC

Panel 2: The Business Case for Green Chemistry and Engineering II – Public Private Partnerships
This panel will focus on presenters who are involved in successful public private partnerships, and how they are helping move green chemistry innovations from the lab to the market.
Moderator: Chris Affeldt, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Panelists: Rui Resendes, GreenCentre Canada; Randy Olinger, Lakeshore Advantage, Michigan State University; Libby Sommer, US EPA Design for the Environment
Registration Web Link:

Save the Date: Catching the Wave: Green Chemistry and Economic Development in the Great Lakes Region

Date: November 13 – 15, 2012
Location: Hyatt Regency Chicago Chicago, IL
Who should attend: Business and industry; State and local government agencies interested in pollution prevention; Not-for-profits; Academia; and Labor organizations.

Registration information is forthcoming.

Join leaders from industry, academia, government, non-profits, U.S. EPA Region 5, and those involved in the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable’s Safer Chemistry Challenge Program for one or both of these exciting events:

November 13 – 14: Catching the Wave – Green Chemistry and Economic Development in the Great Lakes Region
Learn first-hand about the business case for Green Chemistry and Engineering and how companies can take advantage of technical assistance opportunities to help them move forward in their own effort to promote sustainability. The first day will feature panel presentations with speakers from Great Lakes companies who have found success in integrating the principles of Green Chemistry and Engineering into their business plans. Speakers will also discuss public – private partnerships and the roles that NGOs and government can play to support these efforts. The second day will feature working sessions to identify technical assistance needs and developing a framework for technical assistance resources in the Great Lakes region.

Keynote Speakers

  • Dr. Terry Collins, Institute for Green Science at Carnegie-Mellon University will speak on green chemistry.
  • Dr. Julie Zimmerman, Yale University Center for Green Chemistry and Engineering will speak on green engineering.

For more information please contact:

November 15: GreenScreen Training (space is limited)
Register early for this in-depth experiential training on how to use the GreenScreen™ for Safer Chemicals, a tool developed by Clean Production Action for identifying chemicals of concern and selecting safer alternatives.

For more information, please contact

Protecting the Great Lakes 4 Million Times

[Post author: Wayne Duke]

“Collect 1 Million Pounds of e-waste and 1 Million Unwanted Pills” was the US EPA’s 2008 Earth Day Challenge to residents, businesses and communities around the Great Lakes. Thousands of residents responded by participating in events to properly dispose of unwanted medicines and to collect and recycle electronic waste during the week of April 19 -27, 2008. The 2008 Earth Day Challenge collected the equivalent of 4,400,000 pills and approximately 4,950,000 pounds of e-waste, as reported by 23 unwanted medicine events and 33 e-waste collection events that were held around the Great Lakes (see Tables 1 & 2). The response to the call for events by the US EPA Great Lakes National Program Office was overwhelming and demonstrates the strong interest Great Lakers have in their Lakes, their communities and doing the right thing for their environment.

Why do we want to keep medicines out of the trash and our wastewater (the toilet, sink and septic)? In the United States, sales of over-the-counter medicines have increased by 60% since the 1990s.[1]  In 2006, the U.S. prescription volume rose to 3.7 billion prescriptions.[2] With these increases come concern about the fate and effects of these compounds in the environment. Recent studies have identified a wide range of pharmaceutical chemicals in rivers and streams nationwide,[3]  and it has also been shown that some of these compounds are potentially harmful to aquatic organisms, affecting reproduction and development even at low concentrations.[4] The fate of pharmaceutical chemicals in sewage sludge is also of concern, as sludge from wastewater treatment is often applied to agricultural land as a fertilizer. The long-term impacts of medicine disposal on our health and the health of the environment are not fully known. However, unless action is taken, the quantity of these chemicals reaching our waterways will continue to increase as pharmaceutical usage increases.[5]

[1] Ann Pistell, Maine Department of Environmental Protection. Presentation at Northeast Water Science Forum, August 9, 2007.

[2] “IMS Intelligence.360: Global Pharmaceutical Perspectives 2006”, IMS Health Report, February 22, 2007.,2777,6599_40183881_81567488,00.html

[3] Kolpin, Dana W., et al. “Pharmaceuticals, Hormones, and Other Organic Wastewater Contaminants in U.S. Streams, 1999-2000: A National Reconnaissance.” Environ. Science and Technology. Vol. 36 no. 6 (2002): pp. 1202-1211.

[4] For example, see Nash, Jon P., et al. “Long-Term Exposure to Environmental Concentrations of the Pharmaceutical Ethynylestradiol Causes Reproductive Failure in Fish.” Environmental Health Perspectives. 112.17 (2004): pp. 1725-1733.

[5] Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, “Disposal of Unwanted Medicines: A Resource for Action in Your Community.” Februrary 2008. p. 2

More Details: Protecting the Great Lakes 4 Million Times

What a great conference!

[Post author: Bob Iverson]




The recent Region 5 and 7 joint conference held in Omaha was great. There were interesting speaker, fun accommodations, a comfortable hotel, and great networking. Kudos to everyone in both regions who had a hand in organizing and hosting the event.The conference meetings were held at the Omaha Zoo. During the breaks participants were free to explore that very nice zoo.

I couldn’t help but be struck by the positioning of the conference participants and the zoo (no comments about monkeys running the conference). Just outside the conference rooms, children were enjoying visits with some of the exotic plants and animals of our world. The conference speakers were all talking about ways to preserve the environment, and what they were fighting for was right there for us all to see. We could see endangered species and environments such as rainforests. And we could see the next generation who deserve a healthy planet.

It was fun to watch the children respond to the animals. The wide-eyed look of wonder and excitement that children have at the zoo is how we jaded adults need to look at the amazing world around us.

I’ll have a wrap-up of this successful conference in the next issue of the LINK, the electronic newsletter of the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable.

Draft Great Lakes Mercury in Products Phase-Down Strategy Open for Public Comments

The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration announces a sixty day public comment period for a Draft Great Lakes Mercury in Products Phase-Down Strategy. In fulfillment of a Collaboration Strategy recommendation, in April 2006, State, Tribal, and City staff commenced development of a basin-wide Strategy for the phase-down of mercury in products and waste.

A draft Strategy is now available for public comment at, through October 27, 2007. We invite comments on the Strategy itself and on how best to move forward with implementation, as well as commitments from stakeholders to implement components of the Strategy.

A copy of the draft document was first distributed to government agency experts for technical review, then revised and distributed to a limited group of industry and environmental group stakeholders. A summary of comments that were received and incorporated can also be found at the above web link.

Please send comments electronically to Debra Jacobson at When sending comments by e-mail be sure to put the words “Great Lakes Mercury Strategy Comments” in the subject line.

If you have questions please contact Debra Jacobson at or (630) 472 – 5019 (Phone).

Thanks to Deb Jacobson for submitting this information.