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FirstEnergy announced plans to shut down its coal-fired Eastlake Power Plant in Lake County and Lake Shore Power Plant in Cleveland this September, nearly a year ahead of schedule. In Lorain County, NRG Energy revealed plans last year to convert its Avon Lake Generating Station from coal to natural gas.

The U.S. EPA's national Toxics Release Inventory reported that disposal or other releases of toxic chemicals decreased by 12% from 2011 to 2012. In Ohio, releases fell by 21%, from 149 million pounds in 2011 to 117 million pounds in 2012. ArcelorMittal and Charter Steel remained the largest emitters in Cuyahoga County.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed open-lake disposal of dredged sediments from the Cleveland Harbor and Cuyahoga River into Lake Erie. Currently, dredged material is placed in confined disposal facilities. The Ohio EPA does not feel that the sediment quality will meet the open water placement criteria, and hopes to hold a public hearing in March. A Plain Dealer editorial called the proposal an "affront to environmental stewardship."

Update: the Ohio EPA's public meeting will be held on March 6. The Army Corps of Engineers will hold a web meeting on March 4.

Update 2: the Akron Beacon Journal also described the disagreement, and a second Plain Dealer editorial urged citizens to attend the Ohio EPA meeting and "speak out against open-lake dumping."

Amy Brennan, Reid Coffman, and Ron Wyss participated in a City Club panel discussion on stormwater issues (MP3, 61.3 MB). The conversation was moderated by NEORSD's Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells, who also answered Fresh Water's questions about the agency's stormwater management program.

An Ohio appeals court overturned a lower court decision and ruled that the City of Munroe Falls cannot enforce some of its ordinances covering oil and gas well drilling, saying that they are preempted by state law. The City plans to appeal the decision to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Data from the U.S. EPA's 2011 Toxics Release Inventory shows that 4.09 billion pounds of toxic chemicals were released into the environment, an 8% increase over 2010 levels. Toxic releases into the waters of the Great Lakes Basin grew by 12%. In Ohio, releases declined from 154 million pounds to 150 million pounds, a 2.6% decrease. Cuyahoga County's largest emitters were the Charter Steel and ArcelorMittal facilities.

Update: The Columbus Dispatch reported on the figures.

By participating in the state's Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District has saved about $3 million in interest on loans, while providing funding for 22 local habitat preservation and restoration projects.

Project partners celebrated the completion of major restoration work on an unnamed tributary of Tinkers Creek in Hudson. The restored 2,000-foot stream near Hudson High School will improve water quality and reduce flooding, while serving as a living lab for students.

In Portage County, the City of Aurora will receive $4.7 million through the state's Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program to restore and protect more than a mile of the Aurora branch of the Chagrin River. The City will purchase 186 acres of the Aurora Golf Club to restore stream banks, forested areas, and wetlands.

Three low-head dams were removed from a 0.9-mile stretch of Baldwin Creek in Berea. The work performed in November is intended to (PDF) remove barriers to fish passage and improve habitats. The Ohio EPA has supplied funding for the removal of a fourth dam on Baldwin Creek.

In January, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District will begin assessing fees for its stormwater management program. The average homeowner will pay about $60 per year. NEORSD provides details about the program and offers a fee finder. A group of 11 suburbs are continuing to challenge the program in court and expect that the case eventually will reach the Ohio Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, a federal judge is considering a revised plan for eliminating combined sewer overflows in Akron. The amended consent decree has been approved by the Ohio EPA and the U.S. EPA. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that the judge "should be pleased enough with the advances to give his approval."

Update: Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells of NEORSD answered questions about the stormwater management program on WCPN's Sound of Ideas.

The City of Parma and the Cleveland Metroparks received a $149,164 state grant for a constructed wetland project in the Big Creek Reservation. The Metroparks plan to design the wetland this winter and create it next summer.

The Port of Cleveland formally commissioned its two debris-removal boats in mid-October. Flotsam and Jetsam will be operated by crews from the Downtown Cleveland Alliance and will patrol the Cuyahoga River's 6.5-mile shipping channel and about five miles of Lake Erie shoreline (PDF). Shortly after their launch, crews used the boats in the cleanup efforts following Hurricane Sandy.

The U.S. EPA awarded Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants for two Greater Cleveland projects, giving $996,902 to the Ohio EPA and $770,250 to the Chagrin River Watershed Partners. The Ohio EPA will use its award to implement green stormwater control practices in Cuyahoga County, and the Chagrin River Watershed Partners will use its for green infrastructure projects in Lake County. Meanwhile, the Healing Our Waters - Great Lakes Coalition issued a report that highlights successful environmental restoration projects in Greater Cleveland.

Broadview Heights residents will vote on a charter amendment that would prohibit new natural gas and oil wells in the City. City Council unanimously voted to put the issue on the ballot against the advice of the City's law director, who said it would be be unenforceable if adopted due to a 2004 state law that eliminated local controls. A group called Mothers Against Drilling In Our Neighborhoods is urging residents to approve the issue, which will appear on the November ballot as Issue 29. Other Ohio communities are also seeking ways to reclaim local control over drilling. Stakeholders discussed the issues on a recent Sound of Ideas show.

Five northern Summit County communities are considering a settlement with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District about the district's stormwater management program. The City of Hudson and Sagamore Hills Township approved the settlement, but it will not take effect until it's signed by the other three communities. Editorials in the Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon Journal urge the Summit County communities to approve the agreement and encourage a group of Cuyahoga County communities to drop their legal challenge.

Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Thomas J. Pokorny issued his final opinion regarding the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's stormwater management program. At the judge's request, NEORSD made several changes to the program, including increasing the amount of funding returned to communities from 7.5% to 25%. While some communities continue to object, the Sewer District intends to begin implementing the program in January 2013.

In its annual Testing the Waters report, the Natural Resources Defense Council ranked water quality at Ohio beaches as the second-lowest of the 30 states with coastlines. Villa Angela and Euclid Beach were included in the report's list of "repeat offenders" for having contamination problems in each of the past five years. Most Great Lakes states scored poorly. The NRDC released the report at the Great Lakes Science Center to recognize the area's investments in green infrastructure. Previous reports: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005.

Update: Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District Executive Director Julius Ciaccia wrote about his agency's efforts to improve the situation.

Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District crews lowered the 345,000-pound head of a tunnel boring machine into the entrance of the Euclid Creek Tunnel, 200 feet below the surface in Bratenahl. The machine will begin cutting the sewer tunnel this summer, and is scheduled to complete the 18,000-foot long tunnel in 2014. When complete, it will be able to store 52 million gallons of combined sewage.

The Ohio Senate passed Great Lakes Compact implementing legislation by a 20-12 vote, opting not to make changes to the bill. Environmentalists and other groups said that the standards it establishes fail to provide adequate protection for Lake Erie and its tributaries. Governor Kasich quietly signed the bill over their objections. The Ohio Environmental Council said that "Ohio has left Lake Erie with an uncertain future," and a Plain Dealer editorial said that the Governor has the opportunity to address the its flaws through "strict monitoring and enforcement of the new limits and by tweaking the law".

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority hired Lake Assault Boats of Wisconsin to build two aluminum work boats. They will be used to remove floating debris (PDF) from the Cuyahoga River and downtown Cleveland shoreline, and will be named Flotsam and Jetsam. The boats are expected to be ready by late summer.

The company that manages the electrical grid from Ohio to the East Coast determined that FirstEnergy's plans to shut down three area coal-fired power plants in September would create reliability problems and that the plants will remain open until April 2015. FirstEnergy's revised plans include the installation of combustion turbines at its Eastlake plant.

By a vote of 59-38, the Ohio House of Representatives approved implementing legislation for the Great Lakes Compact. The bill, which includes limits on water withdrawals from Lake Erie and its tributaries, now moves to the Ohio Senate. Environmental groups maintain their objections to provisions of the legislation, calling it "an unbalanced bill". An editorial in Toledo's Blade said the bill is "not good enough", while Plain Dealer editorials encourage the Senate to "examine deficiencies glossed over in the House" and criticize State Rep. Lynn Wachtmann's involvement.

Update: another Plain Dealer editorial says that "lawmakers must dig deeper and fix the flaws" in the bill and an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the "Ohio Senate still has an opportunity to craft improved legislation".

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority is seeking bids (PDF) from boat builders for a pair of debris-removal barges. Port Authority staff hope to have them operating on the Cuyahoga River this summer.

Environmental groups continue to express concerns about the Great Lakes Compact implementing legislation under discussion in the Ohio House of Representatives. Editorials in the Akron Beacon Journal and the Blade reflected those concerns. Governor Kasich and Representative Wachtmann, the bill's sponsor, announced that they reached an agreement (PDF) about the legislation. Details of the agreement are not yet available.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial identified opportunities for improving the legislation. A Plain Dealer editorial said that if Governor "Kasich is serious about legislation to protect Lake Erie, he needs to find a more credible sponsor than State Rep. Lynn Wachtmann."

Update 2: the Ohio House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee approved the bill on a party-line vote. A floor vote may be held soon. Environmentalists continue to object to provisions in the bill.

New maps from the Ohio Geological Survey illustrate the portions of the state where Utica shale deposits are expected to yield the most oil and gas. Previous maps included Cuyahoga, Lake, and Lorain counties in this area, but they are mostly excluded in the revised maps.

The Ohio House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee is considering the Great Lakes Compact implementing legislation recently introduced by Representative Lynn Wachtmann of Napoleon. Business interests said they have "serious reservations" about the bill.

More energy companies are acquiring rights to drill in Ohio's Utica shale, and have leased or purchased rights to 3.8 million acres in the state. Projections anticipate that 160 wells will be drilled in 2012, 650 wells in 2013, and 1,075 wells in 2014.

On World Water Day, Environment America released a report titled Wasting Our Waterways 2012. It used Toxics Release Inventory data to identify the states and waterways with the most industrial pollution, and said industrial facilities released 9,184,661 pounds of toxic materials into Ohio waterways in 2010.

A group of suburbs continues to oppose the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's stormwater management program. They are appealing a February Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court ruling that upheld the program.

Property owners in Summit County near the Cuyahoga Valley National Park have been receiving offers for the oil and gas rights from the Utica shale beneath their land.

A revised Great Lakes Compact implementation bill was introduced in the Ohio House by Representative Lynn Wachtmann. Governor Kasich, who vetoed an earlier version of the bill, said that the legislation has issues that remain unresolved. Environmental groups said that the bill is improved, but should be strengthened in some areas, and an Akron Beacon Journal editorial also made some suggestions. Joe Koncelik concluded that it would move "Ohio much closer to the other Great Lakes States in how it regulates future water withdrawals from the Great Lakes Basin."

Update: in an article, the Plain Dealer looked at the issues, and in an editorial said that Rep. Wachtmann is the wrong person to lead the process.

Upgrades to Euclid's sewer system will cost $136 million over a 10- to 15-year period. City Council is reviewing the project. Upgrades are also planned in Akron, and some residents said that the plans place too great a burden on ratepayers.

Update: Euclid City Council unanimously voted to submit project plans to the U.S. EPA for final approval.

Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Thomas Pokorny confirmed that the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District has the authority to implement a regional stormwater management program and that its associated fee is not unlawful tax. A group of suburbs had challenged the stormwater plans. The judge also determined that Hudson is a member, undoing a decision he made last year.

Update: officials in Summit County hope to reach a compromise.

President Obama's 2013 federal budget request proposes funding levels for federal initiatives, including transportation programs, environmental protections, and the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. For the Great Lakes basin, it contains $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, $110 million for sewage system improvements, and $31 million for dredging. It also would provide $658 million for NASA's Glenn Research Center.

Update: Great Lakes Echo has more details.

The City of Euclid will invest $104 million to $150 million in its sewer infrastructure over the next 10 to 15 years to address combined sewer overflows. Mayor Cervenik estimates that residents will see a $10 monthly increase, and the City will present the project at public meetings on February 25 and March 1.

The Ohio EPA withdrew its proposed water quality standards for headwater streams. Business groups supported the decision and conservationists opposed it. The standards will be reviewed (PDF) under Governor Kasich's Common Sense Initiative.

FirstEnergy announced that it will close six older coal-fired power plants this year, including the Lake Shore Power Plant in Cleveland and the Eastlake Plant in Lake County. The company attributed the decision to new federal mercury pollution standards. Most of the plants that will be closed have been operated as peaking plants.

A Plain Dealer editorial said the closures represented "a punch in the gut for communities already battling sour unemployment numbers," while an editorial in Toledo's Blade said that "no single policy is responsible for the closures." an Akron Beacon Journal editorial provided some perspective. The Natural Resources Defense Council called it "good news for human health and a clean energy economy."

Update: The Atlantic Cities considered how the decision may affect the City of Eastlake.

The U.S. EPA approved the City of Akron's revised combined sewer overflow control plan. The plan also needs the approval of the Ohio EPA and a federal judge. The Ohio EPA will hold a public hearing on February 29. The federal judge rejected an earlier version of the plan last year.

Summit County Engineer Al Brubaker is seeking approval from Summit County Council to establish a countywide stormwater utility. Council members will discuss the proposal. Mayor Procop of Twinsburg opposes the proposed program.

Update: the Summit County Engineer's Office described the advantages of the proposed stormwater utility.

Two Summit County brothers turned their 105-acre family farm into wetlands, and recently donated the Panzer Wetland Wildlife Reserve in Copley Township to the University of Akron. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial praised their work.

The Ohio EPA issued a draft of its 2012 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report. It says that the water quality of the state's lakes, rivers, and streams has improved slightly since 2010, and that the largest problems are from farm fertilizer and urban runoff. The agency is accepting public comments through February 6.

As Ohio shale drilling continues to generate headlines, participants on Wednesday's Sound of Ideas program discussed fracking in Ohio. Recent events could lead to policy changes.

The U.S. EPA issued its annual analysis of data from the national Toxics Release Inventory. After several years of decreases, U.S. toxic chemical releases increased by 16% from 2009 to 2010. Releases in Ohio shrank by 1.8%. Cuyahoga County's largest emitters were the ArcelorMittal and Charter Steel facilities.

The Ohio EPA's proposed new rules for existing construction and demolition debris landfills would institute scheduled leachate monitoring. If contamination levels exceed standards, the rules would require groundwater testing and possible cleanup action. The EPA will hold a public hearing (PDF) on January 3 in Columbus.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District submitted its green infrastructure plan to the U.S. EPA on Wednesday. It identifies 20 green infrastructure projects that the sewer district may fund over an eight-year period, as part of its combined sewer overflow control program. The agency will invest at least $42 million in the green infrastructure projects. Federal approval is required for the overall plan but not for individual projects.

Congress approved $300 million in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in 2012. It also authorized $533 million in low-interest loans for Great Lakes states to address combined sewer overflows. The National Wildlife Federation called it "a significant victory for fish, wildlife and the Great Lakes," while an editorial in Toledo's Blade said "it's not enough, even in a period of fiscal austerity."

Update: a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial adds that it "sounds like a substantial sum, but it's not enough, even in a period of fiscal austerity."

An Ohio Citizen Action report urges FirstEnergy to permanently close its Lake Shore Power Plant in Cleveland. The plant is currently idle.

While the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's stormwater management program is in the midst of a lawsuit, the Summit County Engineer's Office proposed the creation of a countywide stormwater management utility. The proposal calls for establishing an impervious surface fee.

Governor Kasich proposed a new Great Lakes Compact implementation bill. It would set lower limits on water withdrawals from Lake Erie and its tributaries than the legislation he vetoed in July. The bill may be formally introduced in December or January.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that the proposed legislation is stronger than the vetoed bill.

Update 2: Tom Henry offered some analysis.

The trial on the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's stormwater management program began in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court and is expected to take about three weeks. The sewer district wants to implement fees to support the program, and is opposed by a group of suburbs.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is finalizing its identification of green infrastructure projects that will be a part of the combined sewer overflow control program. The Green Infrastructure Feasibility Study will include 1,000 acres in 30 projects.

Update: the Plain Dealer published more information about the $42 million program.

Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District leaders and a group of suburban mayors were unable to reach an agreement about the fees associated with the District's stormwater management program. A trial will be held on October 31 in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial concludes, "If these cities win their lawsuit, it will mean a big loss for the region. Working with the sewer district is cheaper and smarter in the long run."

The City of Euclid reached an agreement with federal and state agencies to reduce combined sewer overflows from its municipal sewer system. The City will make at least $50 million in improvements over the next 15 years and will pay a $150,000 penalty.

The U.S. EPA announced $4.5 million in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants for 11 projects in Ohio. The awardees include the Cleveland Metroparks and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority (PDF). Work is underway on a project at Huntington Beach, one of the projects funded last year.

Four smaller local sewer systems are developing plans to reduce combined sewer overflows. Systems operated by the cities of Avon Lake, Elyria, Euclid, and Lakewood currently discharge 274 million gallons of untreated wastewater per year. The work is addition to the plans of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and the City of Akron.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that the improvements are worth the expense.

The Ohio General Assembly may attempt to override Governor Kasich's veto of the Great Lakes Compact implementation bill.

(via Great Lakes Echo)

Update: PolitiFact Ohio evaluated Tim Grendell's claims about Lake Erie. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that lawmakers should listen to the "wide range of knowledgeable voices calling for improved legislation" instead of pursuing an override.

The U.S. EPA collected a second set of Cuyahoga River sediment samples from behind the dam in Summit County's Gorge Metro Park. Tests of the sediment are needed to determine the feasibility of removing the dam.

Under pressure by officials from inside and outside Ohio, Governor Kasich vetoed the Great Lakes Compact implementation bill passed by the General Assembly. In a statement (PDF), he said that portions of the bill "must be improved." It was his first veto as governor. Editorials in the Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon Journal supported his decision, while Tom Henry found the entire episode embarrassing. The bill's sponsors said they would seek to override the veto.

Update: participants on Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program discussed the legislation.

Update 2: Brent Larkin said that "although Kasich's veto will not be overridden, this isn't the end of it."

With funding provided by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, communities in Cuyahoga County are creating rain gardens, bioswales, and other projects to control stormwater and create neighborhood greenspace.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, a new report from the National Wildlife Federation, looks at state implementation of the Great Lakes Compact. It focuses on three areas: water diversions, conservation and efficiency, and water withdrawal permitting. The Plain Dealer again urges Governor Kasich to veto the Ohio bill.

Update: the Detroit News, Morning Journal, and Kristy Meyer of the Ohio Environmental Council also call for a veto. New York officials dislike the bill, too.

Bay Village City Council approved a riparian setback ordinance. It will limit new construction within 25 feet of creeks and streams.

Using water quality and public notification data, the Natural Resources Defense Council ranked the water quality of beaches in 30 coastal states. The 21st annual Testing the Waters (PDF) report scored Ohio (PDF) as having the second-highest percentage of monitoring samples that exceeded national health standards, a poorer performance than last year. Villa Angela beach in Cleveland was included in the report's list of top 10 repeat offenders. Some Great Lakes beach and health professionals have issues with the report's methodology.

U.S. District Court Judge Donald C. Nugent approved the agreement between the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and federal agencies for addressing combined sewer overflows in the region. NEORSD now can implement the $3 billion consent decree.

By a vote of 25-8, the Ohio Senate passed a Great Lakes Compact implementation bill. The Ohio House approved the legislation last week. Its protections are the weakest of any Great Lakes state.

Update: editorials in the Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon Journal editorial encourage Governor Kasich to veto the bill. The Ohio Environmental Council and Andy Buchsbaum of the National Wildlife Federation are also critical of the bill. Governor Kasich is expected to sign the bill in the next two weeks.

Update 2: Great Lakes Echo analyzed the situation, while a Detroit Free Press editorial objects to the bill and a Plain Dealer editorial says it could lead to an increase in toxic blue-green algae.

In a party-line vote, the Ohio House passed the Republican-backed Great Lakes Compact implementation bill. The Ohio Senate is now considering the legislation, and former Governor Bob Taft testified against it in a committee hearing.

Update: George Voinovich and Sam Speck also oppose the bill. Editorials in the Plain Dealer, Blade, Akron Beacon Journal, Repository, Dayton Daily News, and Morning Journal urge Ohio senators to vote no.

Democratic lawmakers introduced alternative bills for implementing the Great Lakes Compact in Ohio. The legislation sets lower limits on the amount of water that can be extracted from Lake Erie than the bills introduced last month by Republican legislators. Environmental groups support the lower limits and business groups back the higher limits (PDF). An editorial in Toledo's Blade says that the Republican-backed bills "would threaten surface and ground water affecting Lake Erie."

Meanwhile, an Akron Beacon Journal editorial calls for bipartisan congressional support of full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Update: the Blade published more information about the fast-tracked Republican bill. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial encourages a bipartisan approach.

The Ohio Department of Development awarded $25.6 million in the second round of the Ohio New Markets Tax Credits, including $2 million to the Cleveland New Markets Investment Fund II. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources awarded $300,033 in Coastal Management Assistance Grants, including $13,545 for Rocky River sub-watershed protection and restoration plans and $21,000 for the Tinkers Creek Watershed Community Engagement Project.

The U.S. EPA's research vessel Mudpuppy will return to Northeast Ohio in July to conduct tests on Cuyahoga River sediment behind the dam in Summit County's Gorge Metro Park and in the old channel of the Cuyahoga River near its mouth in Cleveland.

By a vote of 4-2, the board of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District approved a series of sewer rate increases over the next five years. Mayors Starr and DePiero dissented. The largest factor in the rate hike is the work to address combined sewer overflows identified in the consent decree with the U.S. EPA. Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program was devoted to a discussion of the rate increases in Cleveland and Akron.

The Ohio EPA awarded 10 grants through its Section 319 program to help communities address nonpoint source pollution. The $2.8 million in grants included a $184,429 grant (PDF) to Mayfield Village for the Chagrin River watershed, a $478,075 grant (PDF) to the City of Aurora for the Upper Aurora Branch of the Chagrin River, a $169,000 grant (PDF) to the Medina County Park District for the Chippewa Lake watershed, and a $57,078 grant (PDF) to Bath Township for the Yellow Creek watershed.

The agency also declared that brownfield remediation has been completed (PDF) at the Steel Slitting site on Aetna Road in Slavic Village, and issued a covenant not to sue.

Update: the Sun Messenger has more details about the grant received by Mayfield Village.

Environmental advocates in other Great Lakes states are worried about the proposed Lake Erie water withdrawal limits recently introduced in the Ohio General Assembly. The proposed limits provide less protection than those established by other states.

Update: the proposal is also receiving criticism within Ohio.

Update 2: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the legislation "fails to meet the compact's spirit and letter," and Gary Wilson of the Biodiversity Project cites it as an example of the region's failure to protect the Great Lakes.

Update 3: a Plain Dealer editorial strongly opposes the bills.

Two Republican lawmakers introduced legislation that would implement the Great Lakes Compact in Ohio. The enabling legislation includes limits on water withdrawals from Lake Erie. Industry groups support the bill, but environmental advocates say that it provides insufficient protection.

A Summit County Court of Common Pleas judge issued an injunction against a company seeking to drill a natural gas well in Munroe Falls. The driller has not applied for municipal approval of roads and other construction associated with the well, and asserts that the only permits required are those from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the "ruling reflects is an effort to find a middle ground before it is too late." Other Northeast Ohio communities are searching for ways to regulate drilling.

Cleveland State University Provost Geoffrey Mearns will mediate the dispute between the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and suburban mayors over fees associated with the District's stormwater management program.

The Ohio EPA is offering a set of four proposed water quality rule packages for public comment. Three of the four packages were released in 2008. Both environmental and industry groups have issues with portions of the rules. The deadline for comments is June 6.

Removal of the concrete dam on Euclid Creek in Euclid is complete. The dam in the Cleveland Metroparks Euclid Creek Reservation was built in 1933 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and its removal was a five-year process.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Thomas Pokorny ruled that the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District has the authority to implement its stormwater management program, but did not rule on a challenge by several suburban communities. The district filed for a declaratory judgment in January 2010. Judge Pokorny's decision (PDF) removes seven Summit County communities from the program. The Summit County Engineer's Office continues to develop its own stormwater management program.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial encourages communities to work cooperatively instead of through the courts.

In a meeting facilitated by Cuyahoga County Executive FitzGerald, local mayors met with NEORSD officials to discuss the agency's contentious stormwater management program. Both sides agreed to to participate in mediation.

The fiscal year 2011 federal budget compromise includes $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Update: Great Lakes advocates said that the agreement represents a significant achievement.

Controversies over natural gas drilling in Ohio could become more prominent this year, as energy companies show more interest in eastern Ohio's shale deposits and state leaders propose drilling in state parks. Ohio environmental groups have called for a moratorium on fracking until the extraction method's risks can be studied more thoroughly.

Update: Thursday's Sound of Ideas program was devoted to the subject.

Bay Village City Council delayed a vote on proposed riparian setback legislation after resident and attorney Homer Taft objected to the ordinance. Taft was a plaintiff in Lake Erie property lines case. Joe Koncelik says that it's a "good idea that Bay Village is having a robust debate."

The Ohio EPA continues to support the removal of the Cuyahoga River dam in Summit County's Gorge Metro Park. Costs could be as high as $10 million.

U.S. District Judge John Adams rejected the proposed consent decree intended to address Akron's combined sewer overflow issues. A civil trial is now scheduled to begin in his court on May 31. Akron officials say they are "extremely disappointed" and that they will appeal the ruling.

In Greater Cleveland, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District will hold a series of public meetings about proposed rate increases that would fund work identified in its combined sewer overflow consent decree. The NEORSD Board of Trustees is expected to vote on the changes in June.

Update: Mayor Plusquellic of Akron held a news conference on Friday. The Akron Beacon Journal summarized his remarks.

Update 2: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the judge should have allowed the City of Akron and the U.S. EPA more time to revise the agreement.

The International Joint Commission issued its 15th Biennial Report (PDFs: full document, executive summary). It features 32 recommendations for federal, state, provincial, and local governments in the United States and Canada, and urges the two nations to approve a revised Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Among the issues it highlights are increased eutrophication caused by excessive nutrient levels and water quality problems at recreational beaches.

Bay Village City Council may establish riparian setback rules, which would limit construction within 25 feet of six creeks.

The Ohio Water Development Authority and the Ohio Department of Development are launching two loan programs, the Brownfield Loan Program and the Alternative Stormwater Infrastructure Loan Program.

Update: Joe Koncelik described the brownfield loan program.

Decades of road salt usage has changed the habitat of Northeast Ohio roadsides, creating areas where invasive halophytes can thrive. Stream and groundwater contamination is also a concern.

A local coalition plans to remove three low-head dams along Baldwin Creek in Berea to improve its habitat (PDF). The partners hope to complete the work by the end of the year, and will hold a public meeting on February 1 at the Berea Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library.

U.S. District Judge John Adams said he has "grave doubts" about the plans to reduce combined sewer overflows in Akron. He is concerned about the timing and lack of certainty, and could reject the proposed settlement between the City and the U.S. EPA. Members of Akron City Council are also unhappy about the consent decree, and an Akron Beacon Journal editorial characterized their reactions as "predictable sticker shock."

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that Judge Adams should allow the agreement to stand.

The Ohio EPA published draft rules for construction and demolition debris landfills. The revised rules are intended to reduce the landfills' environmental impacts (PDF) by preventing leachate problems. Landfill operators oppose the changes. The rules are open to public comment through April 1.

The Ohio Lake Erie Commission awarded a $120,000 grant to Heidelberg University's National Center for Water Quality Research to monitor water quality of four Lake Erie tributaries, including the Cuyahoga River. Cleveland State University received a $34,983 grant to continue its support of the Ohio Balanced Growth Program's Best Local Land Use Practices guidance.

The Plain Dealer has more details about the removal of the Euclid Creek dam under the Highland Road bridge in Euclid. In Chagrin Falls, officials are preparing bid specifications for modifications of the Chagrin River dam at the Spillway site.

Update: for more information about the dam removal project, visit the Euclid Creek Watershed Program.

Update 2: Chagrin Falls Village Council approved a bid for the first phase of the dam lowering. Spillway developers are working with the Ferchill Group on the mixed-use project.

Northeast Ohio communities may soon see a dramatic rise in the number of new natural gas wells. Portage County saw 101 natural gas leases filed in the first half of 2010, and 1,125 have been filed thus far in the second half of the year. Stark County saw 160 in the first half and 836 to date in the second.

The Ohio Great Lakes Compact Advisory Board issued its final report (PDF, 9.8 MB) on Wednesday. The Ohio General Assembly is expected to consider the report's recommendations in 2011. The Ohio Environmental Council called it (PDF) "a critical first step toward preserving one of Ohio's greatest natural resources."

The U.S. EPA released its annual analysis of data from the Toxics Release Inventory. Nationwide, releases of toxic chemicals fell by 12% to 3.37 billion pounds from 2008 to 2009. Releases in Ohio fell from 224 million pounds in 2008 to 159 million pounds in 2009, a decrease of over 29%. Cuyahoga County's top polluter in 2009 was the Charter Steel mill in Cuyahoga Heights. The ArcelorMittal steel plant in Cleveland was idled for much of the year.

Update: businesses in Ohio continued to emit more toxic air pollutants than those of any other state. Officials attribute the decreases to pollution control equipment, the recession, and new processes.

An editorial in the Akron Beacon Journal chides the Ohio Senate for failing to pass foreclosure prevention legislation, and a second editorial urges Congress to fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Summit County Council approved funding for a study of a proposed countywide stormwater management program. The program could be funded by a property tax levy. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the proposal reflects a lack of regional coordination.

Update: Summit County Engineer Alan Brubaker responded to the newspaper.

By a vote of 5-2, the board of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District approved an agreement with the U.S. EPA that lays out a 25-year plan for addressing combined sewer overflows. The board may vote in January on rate increases to fund the $3 billion program. Other cities across the country have reached similar deals with the EPA.

Update: David Beach posted his comments.

The board of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is scheduled to vote on Thursday on whether to accept an agreement with the U.S. EPA. The agreement covers plans to reduce combined sewer overflows over the next 25 years. Proposed rate increases will not be a part of the vote. A Plain Dealer editorial encourages the board to ratify the agreement, using Akron's experience as an example of the alternative.

Update: the Plain Dealer described its projected impacts on sewer rates.

Workers have begun removing a Euclid Creek dam at the Cleveland Metroparks' Euclid Creek Reservation in Euclid. Removal of the 6-foot-tall, 40-foot-long concrete dam should be completed by May.

The Bellaire-Puritas Development Corporation is conducting riparian restoration at two sites along Big Creek's Chevy Branch. In Broadview Heights, the City will hold a public meeting on Wednesday to discuss the upcoming Elsa Drive Wetland Restoration and Protection Project.

Update: the Sun Star Courier summarized the meeting in Broadview Heights.

Editorials in the Akron Beacon Journal, the Plain Dealer, and the Blade urge Congress to fully fund Great Lakes cleanup efforts through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and to pass the Great Lakes Legacy Act. Many of the Great Lakes' congressional advocates will be leaving office in January.

Update: Michael Scott of the Plain Dealer says that the GLRI "is in serious danger of being trimmed after only one year."

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District shared details about its proposed agreement with the U.S. EPA. The documents describe plans to spend $3 billion over 25 years to address combined sewer overflow problems and specify the speed at which sewer rates would rise. Some Clevelanders oppose the agreement. The plans will be presented to the agency's board on November 18, and the board is expected to vote on the plan on December 2.

The Ohio Great Lakes Compact Advisory Board published its draft recommendations for implementing (PDF, 17.3 MB) the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will hold an open house at the Bay Village Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library on November 19, and will submit the final recommendations by December 15. The Ohio Chapter of the Sierra Club has issues with the recommendations.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is holding a series of public meetings to explain its plans to address combined sewer overflow problems and the associated rate increases. The first meeting was held on Thursday in South Euclid, and NEORSD tweeted updates from the event. The program, dubbed Project Clean Lake, is facing opposition from Summit County officials. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the "regional approach makes the most sense."

The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club are appealing a permit recently issued by the Ohio EPA for the Lake Shore Power Plant in Cleveland. The permit authorizes the FirstEnergy facility to continue discharging mercury into Lake Erie.

Participants on Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program discussed the plans and the costs for addressing combined sewer overflows, both in Greater Cleveland and Akron.

Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District officials say they are close to reaching an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to address combined sewer overflow problems. Sewer rates would increase substantially, beginning in 2012. The final settlement could be announced by November.

The U.S. EPA postponed plans to conduct additional sediment testing behind the Cuyahoga River dam in Summit County's Gorge Metro Park, because its research vessel has been occupied with cleanup efforts for the Enbridge oil spill in Michigan. It will not be available until next year.

The 12 Cuyahoga County suburbs that are challenging NEORSD's stormwater management program jointly issued a statement. It characterizes the program as an "involuntary tax disguised as a fee."

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial criticizes the cities' decision to fight the program.

Akron officials expect that federally mandated sewer improvements will cost $650 million over the next 18 years, up from earlier estimates of $500 million. Residents already face a series of rate increases. The City will hold a public hearing on Wednesday evening in the Morley Health Center auditorium.

Update: AkronNewsNow summarized the meeting.

The Ohio EPA approved a permit for mercury discharges from FirstEnergy's Lake Shore Plant in Cleveland. The permit allows the plant to continue discharging mercury-tainted wastewater into Lake Erie. The EPA did not require the company to install equipment and instead ordered it to develop a pollutant minimization plan.

"Why does the Northeast Ohio region's new stormwater management program have a dozen suburbs fit to be tied?" asks Marc Lefkowitz.

The U.S. EPA awarded the first competitive grants under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The awards include a $1 million grant to the Ohio EPA for Cuyahoga River cleanup efforts. Next year's funding level for the program remains in question.

Because of the unresolved legal challenge, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District indefinitely delayed implementing its stormwater management program and impervious surface fee. The sewer district's board approved the program in January. It was initially scheduled to begin in July, and was later postponed until October. Sewer district officials hope to start the program later this year.

Turning the Tide (PDF), a new report from the Healing Our Waters Campaign, says that between January 2009 and January 2010, combined sewer overflows in Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Gary, and Milwaukee discharged 41 billion gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater into the Great Lakes. The report recommends upgrading sewer systems and increasing implementation of green infrastructure techniques, and calls on Congress to fund the improvements.

One of the 13 Cuyahoga County water quality improvement projects funded by GLRI/SWIF grants is a green infrastructure demonstration project on the grounds of Mayfield Heights City Hall. The City received $231,000 to create a rain garden, install pervious pavement, and plant bioswales.

The U.S. EPA extended the boundaries of the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern to include the 34-acre pool behind the dam in Summit County's Gorge Metro Park. The designation makes the area eligible for federal funding for testing and possible cleanup of contaminated sediment behind the dam.

The Natural Resources Defense Council published its 20th annual Testing the Waters report today. The survey of water quality at U.S. beaches ranked Ohio's (PDF) beaches 27th of the 30 states in the survey, an improvement over last year's rank of 29, but still among the nation's worst. Urban runoff and combined sewer overflows contribute to the pollution problems.

A group of Summit County elected officials is urging property owners to refuse to pay the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's planned impervious surface fee. NEORSD Executive Director Julius Ciaccia defended the stormwater management program (PDF) and said that the officials were acting irresponsibly.

Update: participants on Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program discussed the issues. The Akron Beacon Journal also published an editorial on the subject.

Update 2: A Plain Dealer editorial criticizes the Summit County officials.

On Monday, the White House released the final recommendations (PDF) of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, and President Obama signed an executive order that established the country's first national oceans policy and created the National Ocean Council. The council includes representatives from a variety of federal agencies, and is intended to strengthen governance and coordination for the stewardship of the oceans, coasts, and the Great Lakes.

Channel 3 aired part six of its Lake Erie: Beyond the Surface series. It looked at threats to water quality, actions that residents can take, and cleanup efforts.

The Plain Dealer looked at how local government agencies intend to use Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding to reduce bacteria levels at area beaches. Meanwhile, the ODNR Office of Coastal Management awarded $311,835 in Coastal Management Assistance Grants.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Heath is scheduled to take up a package of environmental restoration bills that includes the Great Lakes Ecosystem Protection Act of 2010.

Update: the committee approved the bill.

More Greater Cleveland residents and businesses are installing rain barrels and rain gardens, for environmental reasons and to qualify for a reduction in the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's impervious surface fee. The City of Cleveland's Office of Sustainability will launch its annual summer rain barrel program on June 21.

Thirteen water quality improvement projects (PDF) in Cuyahoga County will receive a total of $2.3 million in grants (PDF) from Ohio's Surface Water Improvement Fund and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

The Ohio EPA and the Cuyahoga River RAP asked the U.S. EPA to extend the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern to include the dam in the Gorge Metro Park. The change could make the area eligible for federal funding to clean up contaminated sediment behind the dam.

Biologists with the Ohio EPA have begun running tests to determine the ecological and environmental conditions of Lake Erie's coastal waters. They will survey 26 near-shore locations this summer, and their data will be incorporated into the National Coastal Conditions Assessment.

The final report of the Ohio Lake Erie Phosphorus Task Force identifies sources of phosphorus loading and makes recommendations for management practices designed to reduce nutrient runoff.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial concluded that "the task ahead involves fulfilling the panel's call for further study and following through to ensure the sound stewardship of a most valuable resource."

The U.S. EPA announced the finalists for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant funding. The EPA is expected to spread $161 million across 270 projects, including $17.2 million for 28 projects in Ohio. The Cuyahoga County Engineer's Office received two $1.5 million grants for Cuyahoga River habitat restoration.

Update: Jane Goodman described the Cleveland-area projects.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District postponed implementation of its new stormwater management program until at least October. The district had intended to impose an impervious surface fee in July, but agreed to the delay because of an ongoing legal challenge.

Update: the Plain Dealer supplied additional information.

Stormwater runoff from developments surrounding the Cleveland Metroparks creates extensive erosion problems within the reservations.

Preliminary tests of the sediment behind the Cuyahoga River dam in Summit County's Gorge Metro Park found moderate contamination but no major toxic issues. The U.S. EPA wants to collect more samples.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is gathering feedback from local communities on the draft guidelines for its stormwater management program.

Update: NEORSD posted the draft stormwater fee credit policy manual.

Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program was devoted to a discussion of stormwater and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's contentious stormwater management program. At GreenCityBlueLake, Marc Lefkowitz says that "we should give the new stormwater program a chance."

A group of commercial property owners and developers may challenge the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's authority to implement its new impervious surface fee. When the NEORSD board voted to adopt the stormwater management program, they also asked the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas to issue a declaratory judgment. The group represented by attorney Sheldon Berns may attempt to intervene. The Sewer District has also increased its advertising budget in recent years.

Update: the group of 21 parties filed a motion in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. Judge McMonagle will decide whether they can participate in the case.

Because Summit County leaders have filed legal challenges to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's new stormwater management program, the Sewer District may withdraw its sponsorship of conservation projects in northern Summit County.

Update: the Hudson Hub Times has more details.

Update 2: the Sewer District will not pull its support for the projects.

Legislators from Great Lakes states introduced identical bipartisan bills in the U.S. House and Senate to support the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The legislation would restore 2011 funding to the 2010 level of $475 million, instead of the Obama administration's proposed $300 million. Great Lakes advocates are pleased.

A USGS study of the northern United States found levels of chloride above the recommended federal criteria in more than 40% of the urban streams tested. The elevated levels, likely attributable to the use of road salt, are harmful to aquatic plant and animal life. An ODOT representative described it as a "tradeoff between our safety and the environment."

The U.S. EPA unveiled an action plan for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. It's the final version of a document that was released in December. It describes how federal agencies intend to implement the GLRI from 2010 through 2014, and identifies goals and actions that will be taken in five major focus areas. A New York Times editorial concluded that "the lakes' restoration will depend on strong and sustained political leadership."

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that "the priorities established in the proposal ring true."

The Plain Dealer looked at the U.S. EPA study of PFC discharges in the wastewater of electroplating companies in Cleveland and Chicago. The Chicago Tribune reported on the subject last month.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial on Ohio mercury rules concludes that "the state EPA must do all that it can to curb the presence of mercury. It runs into trouble when it sets standards and then must admit the tools aren't available to get there."

A U.S. EPA study of electroplating facilities (PDF) in Cleveland and Chicago found that they were discharging high levels of PFCs in their wastewater. The emissions are permitted under a 2007 Bush administration exemption for the factories.

(via Great Lakes Echo)

Area communities reacted differently to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's new stormwater management program. Mayor Cicero of Lyndhurst was disappointed, and the City of Hudson may join Summit County's lawsuit against the sewer district. Mayor Elliott of Brook Park, on the other hand, thinks the program will help the city alleviate and prevent flooding problems. David Beach called it "one of the most important developments for local water quality that I have seen in the past 25 years."

Greater Cleveland residents have the opportunity to share their opinions at several meetings:

Update: Scene and the Plain Dealer have more information about FirstEnergy's request. Channel 3 reported on the Harshaw site findings. The News Sun shared details about the aerotropolis meetings.

On Thursday, the board of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District unanimously approved the new stormwater management program. The district has identified more than $220 million of critical stormwater projects, which will be financed by the new impervious surface fee. Once the board adopted the plan, NEORSD asked the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas to confirm the district's authority to implement the plan.

With the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District expected to vote on the proposed stormwater management program on Thursday, the Summit County prosecutor asked a court to issue a permanent injunction against any fees. Leaders in outer-ring Cuyahoga County suburbs also dislike the proposal. NEORSD Executive Director Julius Ciaccia discussed the approach on Channel 3's Between the Lines.

Update: the Akron Beacon Journal and WKSU have more details. Joe Koncelik considered the implications of the proposed regulations.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's board is expected to vote on the proposed stormwater management program on January 7. If the board approves the proposal, collection of a new impervious surface fee would begin in July. The district is also preparing for legal challenges of its authority to implement the fee. A Plain Dealer editorial calls it "a fair plan that the sewer district board should approve in January."

Update: the Bath Township Trustees oppose the initiative.

A draft of the Ohio 2010 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report found that water quality of the state's rivers and streams has improved since the last report was completed in 2008. Some of the improvement may be due to a change in methodologies. The report is open for public comment until March 31. Panelists on the most recent NEOtropolis show discussed the importance of watersheds and the Great Lakes Compact.

Update: the Columbus Dispatch has more details.

Akron City Council approved a series of sewer rate increases to pay for improvements identified in the settlement with the U.S. EPA. The first increase will be a 25% hike in 2010. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that while the higher rates will be painful, the work they fund will benefit the City.

The Akron Beacon Journal has more details about the dispute in Summit County about NEORSD's proposed stormwater management program. In neighboring Portage County, Aurora leaders are considering a stormwater fee.

The U.S. EPA released its annual analysis of Toxics Release Inventory data. In 2008, pollution releases at the national level fell by 6% from 2007 levels. Ohio reduced its releases of toxic air pollutants by 22%, but remained the nation's top emitter of toxic airborne compounds. Toxic releases in Cuyahoga County fell from 12.2 million tons in 2007 to 9.9 million tons in 2008. The ArcelorMittal steel mill in Cleveland was the County's top polluter.

Leaders in Summit County are banding together to oppose the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's proposed stormwater management program. County officials may file a lawsuit against the sewer district.

More than 100 people attended the last of five public meetings about the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's proposed regional stormwater management program. Some residents objected to the new stormwater fee it would entail.

Update: leaders in Summit County remain opposed to the program.

The U.S. EPA issued a request for proposals through the $475 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The competitive grant process will "provide funding to address the most significant Great Lakes ecosystem problems". Projects must be submitted by January 29.

A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that African Americans are more likely to live in proximity to a polluting industrial facility than white Americans. The disparity was especially acute in Midwestern cities.

WCPN looked at how the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and the Ohio EPA have invested their federal stimulus dollars.

The U.S. Department of Justice, the Ohio Attorney General, and Akron City Council approved the settlement of the lawsuit over the City's combined sewer overflows. It is subject to a 60-day public comment period and approval by a federal judge. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial assessed the repercussions of the agreement.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District issued two reports: a survey of water quality and habitat in the middle Cuyahoga River (PDF) and an assessment of West Creek (PDF).

Michael Scott of the Plain Dealer asks if the recommendations of the federal Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force will be good for the Great Lakes. An interim report it issued in September suggested the formation of a National Ocean Council.

The Ohio Lake Erie Commission is compiling a list of projects (PDF) for potential funding through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. It includes funding for the removal of two dams on the Cuyahoga River.

John Austin of the Brookings Institution thinks that the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative will be "a major shot in the arm" for the region's metropolitan areas. A Plain Dealer editorial called it "great news for the Great Lakes".

On Friday, President Obama quietly signed the appropriations bill that included $475 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and $4 million for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Update: officials with the Trust for Public Land believe it will take several years to complete the Blossom land purchase.

As anticipated, Congress approved $475 million in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Members of President Obama's Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force discussed the program on Thursday when they held their sixth and final regional public meeting in Cleveland. Joe Koncelik fears that the initiative's local match requirement could create problems.

Update: WKSU also reported on the meeting.

While a Congressional conference committee recommended funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at the full $475 million level, environmental advocates say that the lakes need additional protections. Others identify a need for a national policy on oceans and waterways. The public will have an opportunity to provide input at the regional Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force meeting (PDF) in Cleveland on Thursday.

Upcoming events:

(via GreenCityBlueLake)

The City of Akron and the U.S. EPA reached a tentative agreement on the combined sewer overflow lawsuit brought by the EPA. Under the terms of the proposed settlement, the City will build additional sewer separation projects, upgrade its wastewater treatment plant, help fund the removal of Canal Diversion Dam on the Cuyahoga River, and pay fines. Sewer rates could rise substantially.

Updates: sewer rates may double or triple during the 19-year sewer project. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial asserts that federal clean water mandates should be "backed by a reliable funding stream to local governments.."

A Plain Dealer editorial urges Congress to fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at the full $475 million level approved by the House instead of the $400 million authorized by the Senate.

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park is beginning (PDF) an environmental impact statement for the modification or removal of the Canal Diversion Dam on the Cuyahoga River in Brecksville. The dam provides water for the Ohio & Erie Canal, but impairs the river's water quality. The study will attempt to balance the historic preservation and environmental perspectives. The public is invited to provide input at a meeting at the Happy Days Lodge on October 28.

Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District leaders are negotiating with state and federal officials about the district's plans to eliminate combined sewer overflows. NEORSD officials want 30 years to resolve the problems, but the U.S. EPA is insisting on a 20-year timetable.

The U.S. EPA's research vessel Mudpuppy is sampling the sediment behind the Cuyahoga River dam in Summit County's Gorge Metro Park. Results of the tests should be available early next year. The Ohio EPA wants to remove the dam, but FirstEnergy would like it to stay.

Jim White of the Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization spoke at the City Club today "about the recovery of the Cuyahoga River as a part of a new regional economy (MP3, 54.1 MB)."

An evaluation by the U.S. EPA's Office of Inspector General estimates that at the current rate of progress, it will take more than 77 years to complete the cleanup of the Great Lakes Areas of Concern. The complete document and a summary (PDFs) are available online.

A draft of a study (PDF) by the Ohio EPA of 30 construction and demolition debris landfills found pollutants in their leachate. Each landfill had 3–29 pollutants at levels in excess of health or water quality standards. Five of the landfills surveyed are in Cuyahoga County.

A New York Times editorial describes the proposed Great Lakes Restoration Initiative as an important start and "a small down payment on a project that could ultimately cost $20 billion."

The Ohio EPA proposed changes to the state's wetland mitigation rules in early 2006, but they remain unimplemented due to objections from developers. Between 2006 and 2008, more than 477 acres of wetlands and 106 miles of streams were filled in. Ohio EPA officials hope to reach a compromise in October.

Freshwater mussels were recently found in the lower Cuyahoga River, just upstream from the Southerly Wastewater Treatment Plant in Cuyahoga Heights. Because mussels are sensitive to pollution, their presence is seen as a sign of the river's continued environmental recovery.

The Akron Beacon Journal looked at the legacy of George P. Smith of Cuyahoga Falls, an advocate for the Cuyahoga River in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Great Lakes Echo reports that funding from the proposed Great Lakes Restoration Initiative will not be available to address combined sewer overflows or for other sewer system upgrades.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that "the Great Lakes require sustained attention and development" and that the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative needs to provide long-term financial support for their recovery.

The largest portion of the proposed $400–$475 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative would be targeted for environmental cleanup of the lakes and the 30 remaining areas of concern in the United States. The Brookings Institution continues to support the investment, saying that multiplier effects will at least double its impacts.

For the second consecutive year, the Natural Resources Defense Council's annual Testing the Waters report ranked the water quality at Ohio's beaches as the second-worst in the nation. Bacteria levels at the state's Lake Erie beaches exceeded acceptable levels approximately 19% of the time in 2008. There were 783 health advisory days at Ohio beaches last year, up from 657 in 2007.

About 150 people attended the U.S. EPA's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative stakeholder meeting in Cuyahoga Heights on Monday evening. Agency officials heard feedback about the proposed $475 million restoration program. The EPA is also gathering suggestions online.

Update: Michael Scott of the Plain Dealer summarized the recurring themes of the meeting.

A Morning Journal editorial encourages public participation in the Great Lakes restoration meeting on July 27 at the Cleveland Metroparks CanalWay Center in Cuyahoga Heights. The U.S. EPA recently issued an outline of its restoration plan (PDF).

The U.S. EPA and Environment Canada jointly produced the State of the Great Lakes 2009 highlights report. It said that the status of the ecosystem is mixed, and that "trends of Great Lakes ecosystem conditions varied: some conditions were improving and some were deteriorating." Meanwhile, the U.S. EPA will hold a series of public meetings across the region to discuss the proposed $475 million Great Lakes restoration program. The Ohio meeting will be held on July 27 at the Cleveland Metroparks CanalWay Center.

Update: Sam Speck of the International Joint Commission spoke about the future of the Great Lakes at an Akron Roundtable luncheon.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that the U.S. EPA should delist portions of the Cuyahoga River, saying that "the insistence that delisting come only after all segments of the 112-mile river are pronounced pristine defies common sense." The paper also published historic photographs of the polluted river from the 1960s.

The July issue of Cleveland Magazine features a set of articles about the 40th anniversary of the the 1969 Cuyahoga River fire.

On the 40th anniversary of the famous fire on the Cuyahoga River, some of those involved with its cleanup shared their memories with the Plain Dealer. Others appeared on WCPN's Sound of Ideas program this morning. The U.S. EPA praised Ohio for its progress in restoring the river, but declined to remove portions of the Cuyahoga from its list of Areas of Concern. The agency wants to see environmental recovery along the entire length of the river.

A Plain Dealer editorial recognized the anniversary and the cleanup of the river, while the paper's Joe Frolik cited examples of what makes the Cuyahoga's comeback a success story. Jeff Opperman said that "Cleveland must redouble its efforts to recast the burning river story" as "a symbol of hope" for the world. The U.S. EPA's Mark Moloney also added his thoughts. Chris Varley, on the other hand, said that we still have a long way to go and that there "is remarkably little to celebrate."

Update: NPR's All Things Considered also aired a report on the anniversary.

Monday, June 22 will mark the 40th anniversary of the last fire on the Cuyahoga River. As part of the Year of the River celebrations, a variety of events will be held along the River on Saturday, from the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to Settlers Landing in the Flats. At 9:00 this evening, WVIZ will show Walking the River, an hour-long documentary first aired in November.

Update: Jim White of the Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization spoke about the cleaner river on WCPN.

The Cuyahoga River's water quality and fish populations are improving, and it also is increasing in popularity as a recreation destination. The middle Cuyahoga's Class IV rapids attract whitewater kayakers.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon announced that the two countries will update the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The 1972 agreement was last amended in 1987.

The Plain Dealer's Year of the River series looked at the steadily improving health of the middle Cuyahoga River and the increasing quantity and diversity of its fish. Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District staffers conduct electrofishing surveys to assess the fish populations.

The Ohio EPA filed contempt of court charges (PDF) against developer John McGill for failing to make environmental improvements at City View Center in Garfield Heights. McGill Property Group officials say that the company lacks the money to install the systems at the shopping center. John McGill recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Florida.

The Ohio Nowcast, a system that provides water quality data for area beaches, is operating for the season. Information is available for Edgewater Beach, Huntington Beach, and new for 2009, the Cuyahoga River at Jaite.

Sean Logan of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Jeff Skelding of the Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Coalition were the guests on Monday's Sound of Ideas program, where they discussed President Obama's proposal to supply $475 million for Great Lakes restoration efforts. Allegra Cangelosi of the Northeast-Midwest Institute writes that the "Great Lakes Region is ready, willing, and able to turn those dollars into visible improvements".

The Akron Beacon Journal reported on the apparent early success of the CHUBs installed in the Cuyahoga River's navigation channel and the efforts to obtain delisting for four of the identified environmental impairments in the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern.

While President Obama's budget document revealed few details about his plans to invest $475 million in Great Lakes restoration efforts, U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson shared some information about the proposal.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more details about the plans.

Details of President Obama's plans to spend $475 million on Great Lakes restoration activities may be revealed this week. A Plain Dealer editorial says the proposal "offers a welcome lift" for the lakes. Meanwhile, Senators Levin, Voinovich, and six other co-sponsors introduced the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2009, which would increase funding for the cleanup of contaminated sediment to $150 million per year. The House of Representatives recently passed similar legislation.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial urges Congress to adopt President Obama's proposal to invest $475 million in a Great Lakes restoration initiative, saying that "lawmakers on the budget and appropriation committees must ensure the money finds a secure place in the federal spending plan."

Tim Grendell and Chris Varley discussed Northeast Ohio's water resources at the City Club today (MP3, 55.3 MB). It was the final event in the "Water–Our Region's Biggest Asset" series.

Senators Voinovich and Brown introduced the Clean Water Affordability Act of 2009, which would establish new rules and supply funding for addressing combined sewer overflows. They introduced a similar bill last year, but it was not enacted.

Update: the Akron Beacon Journal and News-Herald have more information.

The Ohio EPA approved a methane extraction plan for the City View Center site in Garfield Heights. The property's court-appointed receiver is optimistic about the shopping center's future.

The Plain Dealer's recognition of the Year of the River continues with a look at how the 1969 Cuyahoga River fire helped to advance the environmental movement at a national level and the myths that surround it. The resulting 1972 Clean Water Act has played a large role in the improvement of the River's water quality.

Budget committees in the U.S. House and Senate included President Obama's proposal for a $475 million Great Lakes restoration fund in their budget resolutions. An editorial in the Blade says that "protecting and restoring the Great Lakes is not a luxury but a critical necessity," and in a Detroit Free Press op-ed, Rich Bowman of the Nature Conservancy suggests investments in natural systems.

Northeast Ohio water quality experts continue to suspect that increases in the area's Canada Goose population are contributing to the high bacteria counts at Lake Erie beaches.

In the second event in the City Club's "Water–Our Region's Biggest Asset" series, NEORSD Executive Director Julius Ciaccia and Ohio EPA Director Chris Korleski spoke about the past, present, and future of the region's water infrastructure (MP3, 55.0 MB). The third and final installment of the series will be held on April 22.

The U.S. EPA's annual publication of Toxics Release Inventory statistics reveal that Ohio businesses emitted 3.89% fewer toxins in 2007 than in 2006. Factories and power plants in Ohio continued to emit more air pollution than any other state. Nationwide, toxic releases declined by 5% in 2007. A provision in the recent appropriations bill reinstated stronger reporting requirements, reversing a 2006 Bush administration rule.

The water quality improvement bill passed by the U.S. House last week includes an increase of funding for the Great Lakes Legacy Act, raising the authorization from $54 million to $150 million per year over the next five years.

The Ohio Great Lakes Compact Advisory Board held its first meeting last Thursday. The 28-member board is scheduled to make recommendations to the governor and general assembly by June 2010.

The Plain Dealer continues its series on the Year of the River with a look at the Cuyahoga River's ongoing environmental recovery. While it still fails to meet eight of the U.S. EPA's 14 criteria, the river is becoming cleaner and healthier.

President Obama's proposed 2010 budget for the U.S. EPA includes $475 million for a new multi-agency Great Lakes restoration initiative.

The U.S. EPA is suing the City of Akron for violations of the Clean Water Act. The lawsuit alleges that combined sewer overflows from Akron sewers have been releasing excessive pollution into the Cuyahoga River, Little Cuyahoga River, and the Ohio & Erie Canal since the City was reissued a wastewater permit in 1997. Financial penalties could be as high as $100 million. Akron Department of Public Service officials defend the system.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that "it is time for Akron to move more aggressively to meet the goals of the Clean Water Act."

A group of American and Canadian environmental organizations is urging President Obama and Prime Minister Harper to rewrite the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, which was last updated in 1987.

Environmentalists want to remove the canal diversion dam on the Cuyahoga River in Brecksville in order to improve the river's health. However, the dam supplies water to the Ohio & Erie Canal, a National Historic Landmark. The Ohio EPA and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park are studying ways to remove the dam and keep water flowing through the canal. A Plain Dealer editorial supports their efforts.

Senators Voinovich and Levin yesterday introduced the Great Lakes Collaboration Implementation Act, a $20 billion plan for restoring the Great Lakes. President-elect Obama supported a smaller $5 billion plan as a candidate. Similar implementation acts were introduced in 2006 and 2007.

The final version of a controversial report by the Centers for Disease Control concluded that there is insufficient data to link health risks to pollution in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern. The report recommends further study.

(via Green Buckeye RN)

This June will mark the 40th anniversary of the best-known fire on the Cuyahoga River. In recognition of the ongoing environmental recovery of the River, the Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization declared 2009 as the Year of the River. A Plain Dealer feature explored the history of the Cuyahoga's pollution problems, its role in the dawn of the environmental movement, and its subsequent cleanup.

Valley View officials say that their concerns about City View Center have been addressed by the recent settlement between shopping center owners and the Ohio EPA.

The lack of oversight at the closed 40-acre Schaaf Road Landfill in Brooklyn Heights and Independence continues to trouble local officials.

The Great Lakes Compact took effect yesterday, and the new Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council held its first meeting (PDF) in Chicago.

A USGS study of Tinkers Creek and its tributaries detected "a total of 12 antibiotic, 20 pharmaceutical, 41 wastewater, and 22 hydrophobic compounds" in the water at one or more sites. It did not identify whether their presence poses a threat to plants, wildlife, or humans. Further testing is planned.

The City of Cleveland sued Standex International, the former owner of the Trinity property on Detroit Road, and is seeking more than $1.5 million in compensation for the environmental cleanup of the site. Meanwhile, the Ohio EPA reached a settlement with the owners of City View Center in Garfield Heights. The developers agreed to make major infrastructure improvements (PDF) and pay a $1.2 million fine.

Despite the adoption of the Great Lakes Compact, the Great Lakes are facing many challenges. The Christian Science Monitor reports on "the cocktail of assaults" that includes invasive species, falling water levels, rising temperatures, and water quality issues.

The Ohio EPA is close to reaching a settlement with developers and the City of Garfield Heights in the City View Center lawsuit. A trial was scheduled to begin on December 8, but was pushed back to December 15.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources awarded over $1 million in grants for local watershed protection programing. The Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District received $54,000 for work on Euclid Creek, Grand River Partners received $140,000, and NEFCO received $100,000 for work on the Middle Cuyahoga River.

FirstEnergy is seeking a variance that would allow its Lakeshore Power Plant to continue wastewater discharges into Lake Erie with mercury levels in excess of permitted amounts. Company officials say that installing equipment to meet the standards could cost $10 million or more.

The conversion of the Langerdale Retention Basin in South Euclid has been completed. The concrete channelized drainageway along Nine Mile Creek was replaced with a man-made wetland. The 10 acre, $1.2 million restoration will reduce flooding and provide new habitats.

Channel 3 shows how a Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District water assessment squad tests Cuyahoga River water quality by examining the fish population.

Preliminary results of a study of the upper Cuyahoga River indicate that much of it will meet Ohio EPA standards for fishability. The number of fish and aquatic insect species identified was a significant improvement over the previous study, conducted in 2000. High bacteria levels still prevent the river from being declared swimmable.

The Blade's Tom Henry says that Bush administration and federal EPA officials "lobbied against our best interests by calling upon both chambers of Congress to reject the House version of a bill that would have reauthorized the Great Lakes Legacy Act at up to $150 million a year."

(via Great Lakes Law)

Update: President Bush signed the reauthorizing legislation.

President Bush signed the Great Lakes Compact today. The Compact now moves into its implementation phase.

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed a two-year reauthorization of the Great Lakes Legacy Act. The Senate bill was at the current funding level of $54 million per year, not the $150 million per year approved by the House earlier this month. The House adopted the Senate version of the bill on Sunday.

The final two stories in WKSU's NEO Development series explore the role of fresh water in the region's redevelopment and how historic preservation and adaptive reuse are helping to create a sense of place.

Editorials in the Plain Dealer, Akron Beacon Journal, and News-Herald praise Congress for passing the Great Lakes Compact.

The Cleveland Clinic submitted revised plans for a new medical complex off of Darrow Road in Twinsburg. The changes are intended to lessen the impacts upon the 86 acre site's wetlands and springs.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact today by a vote of 390-25. Representatives Kucinich and Kaptur were among those voting against it. The Senate approved the Compact in August, and President Bush has indicated that he will sign it.

By a vote of 371-20, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Great Lakes Legacy Act. The reauthorization bill now moves to the Senate. If enacted, it will triple the annual funding for cleanup of contaminated sediment in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern.

Citing safety concerns, Wal-Mart indefinitely closed its store at City View Center this morning. A company spokesperson said that the list of problems includes "structural shifts, foundation issues, electrical issues, methane gas level issues, sewage backup," and that Wal-Mart does not intend to reopen the store.

Update: the Plain Dealer and WTAM have more details.

The Ohio EPA remains concerned about the effects of a proposed Cleveland Clinic facility on wetlands and streams in Twinsburg. The Clinic is seeking permission to fill in some of the property's high-quality wetlands and rare cold-water springs. The two sides are continuing negotiations.

Mayor Longo of Garfield Heights is confident that the Ohio EPA's lawsuit against City View Center will be resolved soon.

A review by the Institute of Medicine upheld the official findings of a controversial study by the Centers for Disease Control about health risks in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern. The Institute of Medicine noted that shortcomings in the draft reports limit its usefulness "in determining whether health risks might be associated with living near the lakes."

The Ohio EPA remains unsatisfied with the efforts to monitor and vent methane gas at City View Center, and has threatened to shut down the shopping center in Garfield Heights if the issues are not resolved.

GLUE's Sarah Szurpicki interviewed Dave Dempsey of Great Lakes Blogger, Jim Rowen of the Political Environment, and Noah Hall of the Great Lakes Law Blog about the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact in advance of a conference call on Tuesday. Hall and Dempsey also discussed the Compact last week on Interlochen Public Radio.

The Ohio EPA released a draft of rule changes for the state's water quality regulations. The agency will accept public comments on the revisions through September 30. Three more packages of proposed rule changes will be released over the next six months.

The U.S. Senate unanimously voted to ratify the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact today. The House Judiciary Committee approved the Compact on Wednesday, and the full House is expected to act on it when members return in September. In addition, committees in both houses voted to reauthorize the Great Lakes Legacy Act.

The National Resources Defense Council rated the water quality at Ohio's beaches as the second worst in the nation, an improvement over last year's last place ranking. The annual Testing the Waters report placed the beaches (PDF) at Villa Angela State Park and Euclid Beach State Park among the worst ten for exceeding public health standards.

In a statement released yesterday, President Bush announced his support for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the Compact tomorrow.

A new report (PDF) from the University of Maryland's Center for Integrative Environmental Research predicts that global warming could cost Ohio billions of dollars in the shipping, tourism, and recreation industries if current trends continue unabated.

Update: WCPN presents more details.

Bipartisan resolutions for the ratification of the Great Lakes (PDF)-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact were introduced in both houses of Congress this morning. The Senate bill is sponsored by Carl Levin and George Voinovich, and the House bill by John Conyers, Jr., Vern Ehlers, Steve LaTourette, and Jim Oberstar.

Governor Granholm of Michigan and Governor Rendell of Pennsylvania signed Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact legislation earlier this week. The Compact has now been adopted by all eight Great Lakes states. John McCain and Barack Obama both expressed their support for Congressional ratification of the Compact.

At the request of the Ohio EPA, the Ohio Attorney General's Office filed a 25-count complaint against the owners and operators of City View Center in Garfield Heights. The lawsuit alleges (PDF) that departures from approved plans resulted in insufficient controls for erosion, leachate management, and methane collection.

Update: the Garfield-Maple Sun supplies more details.

Last week, the Pennsylvania Senate approved the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The agreement has now been passed by all eight state legislatures. When the bills are signed by the governors of Michigan and Pennsylvania, the Compact will move to the U.S. Congress for ratification.

Update: NPR presents more details.

On Friday, Governor Strickland signed the bill ratifying the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. Legislators in Michigan also passed the agreement, and Governor Granholm is expected to sign it, leaving Pennsylvania as the only state that has yet to approve the Compact.

In the fourth and final part of the Lake Erie: Beyond the Surface series of specials, WKYC looked to the future. The show examined lakefront plans, legislative initiatives, economic opportunities, and our drinking water. All four shows are available online.

An Akron Beacon Journal says that the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact "is essential to the region effectively managing a most valuable resource, one-fifth of the planet's fresh water." Toledo Blade columnist Tom Henry says that the "eight-state agreement could go down in history as one of the most important of our era."

Ohio Republican legislators were able to appease Democrats in the Ohio House, and as expected, the House approved placing the proposed water rights constitutional amendment on the November ballot and the Ohio Senate unanimously voted in favor of joining the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. Governor Strickland said he would sign the Compact.

Update: the Blade and the Plain Dealer have more details.

Plans to approve the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact suffered a setback in the Ohio legislature yesterday. Democrats in the House blocked a proposal to put a water rights constitutional amendment on the ballot, and Senate Republicans responded by calling off a vote on the Compact. Legislators will discuss the issue again on June 10.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial predicts that Governor "Strickland will knock heads among Democrats" to get the Compact passed.

A new report from the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition describes the likely impacts of global warming on the Great Lakes and recommends several changes in federal policy. It predicts that the lakes will be warmer and shallower, and will see increases in pollution and dead zones. The solutions identified include adoption of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact and the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy.

State and local health officials began summer water quality tests at area beaches this past weekend. Instead of closing the beaches when bacterial levels are high, officials issue no-swim warnings. The Nowcasting system has been expanded to issue advisories for Edgewater as well as for Huntington beach.

Governor Doyle of Wisconsin signed the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact today, leaving Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania as the only states that have yet to adopt the agreement. A Plain Dealer editorial says that the Ohio Senate's pending approval of the Compact makes "Ohio's long-term future got a bit more secure".

Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune looked at the Compact's implications for communities near the lakes and quoted Peter Annin: "In the near future, the tensions over Great Lakes diversions are actually going to be in the Great Lakes region."

Nearly 400 people attended the Northeast Ohio Stormwater Conference on Wednesday and Thursday at Cuyahoga Community College's Eastern Campus. The Tinkers Creek Watershed Partners plan to make some of the conference presentations available online.

The stalemate over the Great Lakes Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact appears to be over, and the Ohio Senate is expected to approve it before adjourning next week for summer break. It's also anticipated that the Senate and House will vote to place Senator Grendell's proposed water rights constitutional amendment on the November ballot, although the two items are not formally linked.

Update: the Ohio Senate unanimously voted to put the amendment on the ballot.

31 of Ohio's top 100 polluters are among the companies participating in the Ohio EPA's voluntary Tox-Minus program. In Northeast Ohio, 15 plants are participating (PDF), although Lincoln Electric is the sole Cuyahoga County participant. The program is an effort to reduce pollution identified in the national Toxics Release Inventory.

Recent Plain Dealer editorials praise the regionalism agenda of the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association and the Cleveland District of Design collaboration. An editorial in the Akron Beacon Journal says that "the Republican majority in the Ohio Senate stands strikingly alone" in its opposition to the Great Lakes Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, while an editorial in the Plain Dealer says that the opposition may be breaking down.

Update: an editorial in the Beacon Journal is also positive about the regionalism initiative.

The construction of a wastewater storage basin in Akron reduced combined sewer overflows from 40 in 2006 to 17 in 2007. City officials are also working on a sewer separation plan.

Wisconsin and Michigan are close to adopting the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, increasing pressure on the Ohio Senate to also approve the pact. Ohio and Pennsylvania are now the only states whose legislatures have not passed it. NPR devoted today's episode of Talk of the Nation to a discussion of the Great Lakes.

Ohio State Senator Tim Grendell is scheduled to introduce his proposed groundwater rights constitutional amendment today. He has said that he would end his opposition of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact if the amendment is approved. Others assert that the amendment wouldn't change Ohio's water law and that it shouldn't be tied to approval of the Compact.

State Rep. Matt Dolan and State Sen. Tim Grendell will discuss the merits of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact in Newbury Township tomorrow. Grendell is also scheduled to discuss the compact at an event on Monday in Chesterland.

U.S. Senators George Voinovich and Carl Levin introduced the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2008 on Thursday. The bill would expand upon the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2002 and provide $150 million annually over the next ten years for the cleanup of the 43 Great Lakes Areas of Concern. The funding increase is one of the recommendations of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy.

The Centers for Disease Control released a revised draft of its controversial study on heath risks in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern. The new draft contradicts earlier versions by omitting county-level data and saying that "current health and environmental data collection cannot define the threat to human health from critical pollutants in the Great Lakes region."

(via GLIN)

At a meeting in Toledo yesterday, Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher called on the Ohio Senate to approve the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. He also said the state should "develop an industry cluster based on companies that deal with safe, clean water."

(via Crain's Cleveland Business)

A Plain Dealer editorial draws connections between a recent report on the potential financial benefits of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy, ballast water legislation recently passed by the U.S. House, the nascent water technology industry, and the Ohio Senate's stance on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact.

The U.S. EPA and Environment Canada issued biennial plans for each of the five Great Lakes. The 2008 Lake Erie Lakewide Management Plan is available for download.

While cleanup efforts have resolved most point source pollution problems facing the upper Cuyahoga River, nonpoint source pollution and combined sewer overflows continue to be a challenge to improving water quality. On Thursday evening, the Ohio EPA will hold a public meeting about the possible impacts of a proposed water treatment plant in Mantua.

The documentary The Return of the Cuyahoga and current Cuyahoga River restoration and conservation efforts were the subjects of this morning's Sound of Ideas show on WCPN. The guests were filmmakers Larry Hott and Len Materman, and also CPC director Paul Alsenas and Jane Goodman of the Cuyahoga River RAP.

In a supplement to a report from last year, the Brookings Institution estimated that implementation of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy would lead to a $2.1 billion to $3.7 billion increase in residential property values in the Cleveland metropolitan area.

Environmentalists are concerned that new federal wetlands mitigation rules could weaken the Ohio EPA's standards. State officials have been unsatisfied with the quality of wetland mitigation banks and encourage developers to create replacement wetlands on or near development sites. The new federal rules, which are preferred by developers, name mitigation banks as the best option.

Reminder: WVIZ will air the documentary film The Return of the Cuyahoga on Tuesday, April 22 at 9:00 p.m., in conjunction with Earth Day 2008.

The Ohio EPA has cited the owners of City View Center for at least 20 environmental violations, including a buildup of methane gas and seepage of polluted water into storm and sanitary sewers. The shopping center in Garfield Heights was the first major commercial development in the state to be built atop a closed landfill.

In the third and final article in its series on water issues, the Plain Dealer examined ways that the Cleveland area could utilize its wealth of water for economic advantage, and noted the recent Global Water Ventures of Cleveland feasibility study.

Meanwhile, a pair of newspaper editorials weighed in on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The Morning Journal says that "best thing [State Senator Time Grendell] can do for Ohio is drop his objections entirely and help get the Great Lakes pact approved as soon as possible." The Plain Dealer called Grendell's proposal for a constitutional amendment "a laughable idea designed to prevent or slow passage of the water deal."

Wisconsin legislators reached a compromise in language for the adoption of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, and are are expected to ratify it at a special legislative session on April 17. Ohio State Senator Tim Grendell, the state's most vocal critic of the Compact, said he would be willing to drop his opposition if Ohio voters approve a constitutional amendment that he is drafting. Senator Grendell, Ohio State Rep. Matt Dolan, and author Peter Annin were among the guests on yesterday's Sound of Ideas show on WCPN, where they discussed the Compact.

In the second part of its series on water issues, the Plain Dealer looks at the legislative debate surrounding the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, and adds an infographic and a FAQ on the Compact.

Toledo's Blade includes a look at John Austin's suggestions for improving the Great Lakes economy, and a column by Tom Henry that says that Lee Fisher "should have known better" than to suggest that Ohio might "sell Great Lakes water to thirsty parts of the country".

(via Great Lakes Blogger and Economic News from Ohio's Regions)

At a Lake Erie development summit in Toledo, Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher mentioned the possibility of selling Great Lakes water, but quickly retracted the statement. At the same event, John Austin of the Brookings Institution spoke about the new Vital Connection report. A Morning Journal editorial says that "the main impressions left by the conference are that communities throughout this region must work in unison to the benefit of the entire Great Lakes area".

An editorial in the Plain Dealer says that the Republicans in the Ohio Senate who have been blocking approval of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact "should find the uproar over Fisher's comments instructive". The Plain Dealer also prepared a presentation that summarizes the Compact.

The Plain Dealer began a series on water issues with a piece on the Great Lakes and water diversions.

This week's Free Times recounts the saga of the recently-released CDC study about health risks in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern, and takes a closer look at the sites in Northeast Ohio.

Earlier this month, New York became the fourth state to join the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The Council of Great Lakes Governors maintains a page tracking the compact's implementation status.

Under pressure from Congress, the Centers for Disease Control published 2004 and 2007 drafts of a study detailing health issues in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern. The agency also highlighted its concerns about the report, and asked the national Institute of Medicine to review the document.

State Senator Tim Grendell continues to promote his rewritten version of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The original version has gathered broad support in most Great Lakes states, and a Plain Dealer editorial lambastes the Ohio Senate for its stance.

The U.S. EPA's annual publication of Toxics Release Inventory data showed that pollution in Ohio increased by 5% in 2006. Releases of toxic substances rose from 277.1 million pounds in 2005 to 291.3 million pounds in 2006. Ohio again led all states in toxic air pollution.

(via Economic News From Ohio's Regions)

Indiana became the third state to enact the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact when Governor Daniels signed Compact legislation yesterday. Illinois and Minnesota endorsed the Compact last year.

Charges that a Great Lakes environmental report was suppressed and its author demoted have led to a Congressional investigation of the Centers for Disease Control. A similar controversy surrounded a Canadian report several years ago.

A watchdog group claims that a study by the Centers for Disease Control on health problems near Great Lakes toxic sites was suppressed "because it contains such potentially 'alarming information' as evidence of elevated infant mortality and cancer rates." The Center for Public Integrity, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit investigative organization, published excerpts of the unreleased report.

Update: a brief piece by Elizabeth Sullivan and an editorial in the Plain Dealer are both highly critical of the CDC's actions.

The City of Richmond Heights will purchase from Cuyahoga County 13 acres along the East Branch of Euclid Creek as part of the City's environmental protection strategy that also included the naming of tributaries of Euclid Creek.

On Saturday, Channel 3 aired part three of Lake Erie: Beyond the Surface, which tells the environmental story of the lake. Parts one and two are also available online. In addition, the station shared a 1964 report on Lake Erie pollution.

On Friday, the Ohio EPA released a draft of its 2008 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report. It shows that "water quality is impaired but continues to improve", and that Ohio's 23 largest rivers are nearing the agency's goal to have 80% attainment of aquatic life use by 2010. However, only 55% of the state's streams meet clean water standards. The agency is accepting public comment on the report through February 25.

River Network will hold its National River Rally 2008 on May 2-5 in Huron, Ohio.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the Ohio Legislature ought to approve the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Water Resources Compact. A Plain Dealer editorial, meanwhile, attributes Ohio's lack of a water technology industry to "hopelessly out-of-touch legislators" in the state Senate.

Update: Andy Guy comments on the emerging water technology industry and references the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article on Siemens AG's Wisconsin operations that spurred the Plain Dealer editorial.

President Bush vetoed the Water Resources Development Act, but Congress is expected to override the veto.

(Update: The House overrode the veto on Tuesday, and the Senate followed suit on Thursday.)

Troubled Waters, a new report from Environment Ohio, says that Ohio sewage plants and industrial facilities violated the Clean Water Act with more excessive and illegal discharges than any other state in 2005.

The 2008 Northeast Ohio Stormwater Conference will be held on May 21 and 22 at the Tri-C Eastern Campus in Highland Hills. Conference organizers are currently accepting abstracts (PDF) from people interested in speaking at the event.

Despite the threat of a presidential veto, the US Senate approved the Water Resources Development Act, a bill authorizing $23 billion in water resource projects, by a vote of 81 to 12.

Peter Annin, the author of The Great Lakes Water Wars, was recently in town, and he spoke to WSKU's Karen Schaefer about the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact and Akron's water diversions.

The Brookings Institution marked the start of the annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference in Chicago by releasing a cost-benefit analysis of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy. It concludes that a $26 billion investment in Great Lakes restoration would yield a $50 billion long-term economic benefit and between $30 and $50 billion in short term multiplier benefits.

(Update: The Detroit News offers additional details.)

Researchers are trying to identify the sources of high bacteria counts at Greater Cleveland beaches. Some suspect that droppings from Canada geese may be part of the problem.

On Friday, Illinois became the second state to endorse the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, joining Minnesota, which enacted the Compact in February.

"Testing the Waters", the Natural Resources Defense Council's annual report on water quality and public notification at U.S. beaches, says that Ohio's Lake Erie beaches pose the greatest health risk in the nation. The problems are largely due to high bacteria levels from combined sewer overflows.

(Update: The Plain Dealer and WKSU offer more details.)

Ohio Department of Natural Resources recommendations call for the 1,625 dams they oversee to be inspected once every five years. The Columbus Dispatch reports that more than 1,200 regulated dams have not been inspected since 2002.

Last week, the U.S. House and Senate reached an agreement on a $21 billion reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act, which includes many projects that would benefit the Great Lakes region. However, President Bush said he will veto the bill because he feels it's too expensive. The veto threat caused the Senate to enter its summer recess without passing the bill.

NOACA posted video of the speakers at their 2007 Summit at YouTube. The speakers at the June event were Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, lobbyist Virginia Ainslie, NEORSD Executive Director Erwin Odeal, and ODOT District 12 Deputy Director Bonnie Teeuwen.

Last week, Representatives Mark Kirk and Dan Lipinski introduced the Great Lakes Water Protection Act in the US House. It would quadruple fines for the release of sewage into the Great Lakes, starting in 2027. Rep. Kirk named Detroit, Cleveland, and Milwaukee as the three largest sewage dischargers.

On Saturday, Channel 3 aired the local special Lake Erie: Beyond the Surface, part of a year-long effort to "showcase our region's most vital natural resource". The program is available online.

Yesterday, the US EPA and Environment Canada released the 2007 State of the Great Lakes Highlights Report at the International Joint Commission Great Lakes Biennial Meeting and Conference in Chicago. It offers good and bad news about the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes Areas of Concern conference, titled "Achieving Restoration Targets and Sustaining Stewardship", will be held in Cleveland on June 28 and 29. The registration (PDF) deadline is June 22.

A new report from Environment Ohio says that over 10 billion gallons of untreated sewage were discharged into Lake Erie due to Ohio combined sewer overflows in 2005. Almost half of the total amount came from CSOs in Greater Cleveland. A bill introduced in the Ohio House yesterday would establish notification requirements for overflows.

About 100,000 gallons of contaminated water remain in Solon after an industrial fire at Erico on Solon Road. Hazmat crews erected earthen barriers to contain the spill, but some oil has reached a Tinkers Creek tributary, and Ohio EPA officials are concerned that forecasted rain may cause the water to overflow the barriers.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials report that there are 261 aging dams in Northeast Ohio. Many of them were built before state regulations were imposed in 1963, and repairing or removing them is often an expensive proposition. ODNR classifies nine dams in Cuyahoga County as high risk, along with 20 in Summit County and 15 in Medina County.

A panel of scientists said that by the end of the century, the Great Lakes region will have a significantly different climate because of global warming. They predicted that Ohio's climate will be much like that of present-day Tennessee or eastern Texas.

Minnesota remains the only state that has ratified the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, and it faces obstacles in several states, including Ohio. There is no deadline, and supporters are confident that it will be endorsed by the state legislatures.

CSU's The Cauldron examined local reactions to the Earth Day Network's 2007 Urban Environment Report, which ranked Cleveland 70th in its list of 72 cities. Cleveland Sustainability Progam Manager Andrew Watterson feels that the methodology was flawed, and that the City is working to address many of the issues raised in the report.

A report by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Ohio EPA, to be released later this year or in early 2008, may answer some questions regarding unhealthy fish populations in upstream Tinkers Creek. The questions involve levels of turbidity, as well as the presence and effect of pharmaceutical products in the stream.

Officials from Lakewood and Rocky River are discussing alternatives for improving water quality by reducing combined sewer overflows. Prices for the options range between $1.3 million and $3.1 million.

Prompted by last summer's flooding, Brecksville officials identified 40 residential and 24 industrial retention basins in the city, and will notify owners of their maintenance responsibilities. The City of Broadview Heights recently took a similar action.

Bipartisan bills that call for over $20 billion to implement the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy were introduced in both houses of Congress yesterday. The bills are virtually identical to legislation introduced last year. Senators Carl Levin and George Voinovich introduced S. 791, and Representatives Vern Ehlers and Rahm Emanuel introduced H.R. 1350.

A series half-day Best Local Land Use Workshops will be held around Greater Cleveland this month. The first training session will be held in Kirtland on March 8. Later workshops will be in Valley View on March 14 and in Medina on March 29. Registration is free, but space is limited.

The Earth Day Network released an environmental report card that used over 200 indicators to compare US cities. Of the 72 rated cities, Cleveland was ranked 70th, and had the worst air quality score in the country.

(via Planetizen)

State Senator Tim Grendell says he will introduce a bill that calls for a joint legislative task force to study the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact for the rest of 2007, which would delay a vote on the agreement until at least 2008. The Ohio House passed enabling legislation in December, but the Ohio Senate never voted on the measure. Members of both chambers plan to reintroduce bills this year.

The International Joint Commission issued its Thirteenth Biennial Report on Great Lakes Water Quality (PDF), in which it said that the United States and Canada have been "good, but not exemplary, stewards of our lakes." It stressed that governments need to be more accountable to their commitments to improve water quality.

Environmentalists say that funding cuts in President Bush's proposed federal budget will hinder efforts to improve Great Lakes water quality and to address issues identified by the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy.

Global warming could cause Northeast Ohio temperatures to rise 3-4° F over the next century. Evaporation caused by the higher temperatures may cause Lake Erie water levels to drop by a much as three feet in the next 100 years.

(Update: The Muskegon Chronicle has more information on how global warming could affect the Great Lakes.)

The Chippewa Creek Watershed Planning Partnership is beginning the process of identifying the necessary steps to restore and maintain the watershed.

Toxic waste runoff from the closed Boyas landfill in Garfield Heights, now the site of the recently sold City View Center, may be the source of cancer among residents in a downstream Valley View neighborhood.

The Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization has launched a new website. It includes information about their three main programs, the Cuyahoga River Remedial Action Plan, the Cuyahoga American Heritage River Initiative, and CLEERTEC, as well as other information, including presentations from the Cuyahoga River Connections symposium held in October.

(via GreenCityBlueLake)

Last summer's series of floods in Cuyahoga and Lake Counties prompted area leaders to cooperate in developing riparian setback requirements, flood prevention techniques, and in purchasing properties within flood plains.

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