The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that Presque Isle Bay, on the Pennsylvania shore of Lake Erie, has been removed from the list of heavily contaminated Great Lakes sites targeted for cleanup by the U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Environmental conditions in Presque Isle Bay have significantly improved due to actions taken by federal, state and local government. Studies have shown that revitalized waterways, like Presque Isle Bay, can benefit the local economy and better protect people's health. Presque Isle Bay is now the second site in the nation to be taken off the list of Great Lakes "Areas of Concern" (AOCs).
In October 2011, the federal Great Lakes Interagency Task Force committed to accelerate cleanups of contaminated rivers and harbors to "delist" AOCs. Presque Isle Bay's delisting reduces the number of AOCs to 29 contaminated sites wholly in the U.S. or shared with Canada.
"On my last day as EPA Administrator, I'm proud to announce that Presque Isle Bay is no longer considered an Area of Concern. We still have a great deal of work to do in the Great Lakes, but this is a positive step that will help protect people's health and the environment in the community," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, who also serves as Chair of the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force. "President Obama has made cleaning up the Great Lakes a priority for his Administration, and delisting Presque Isle Bay is a big step toward fulfilling that commitment."
The historic discharge of industrial and domestic wastewater contaminated Presque Isle Bay with excessive nutrients, organic compounds, toxic metals and other pollutants. Improvements at Erie's wastewater treatment plant, along with the waterfront's conversion from heavy industrial to commercial use, reduced pollution and helped restore the bay.
Since 2010, Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding has been used to accelerate the final steps needed to delist Presque Isle Bay. President Obama launched the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at the start of his first term.
"Presque Isle Bay being delisted is a testament to the many conservation, environmental and sportsman groups in Erie County who have made the health of Presque Isle Bay a community priority," said Congressman Mike Kelly. "While this is certainly an achievement, we as a community must keep Presque Isle Bay a priority to avoid any environmental challenges in the future."
Environment Canada, the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and the U.S.-Canada International Joint Commission concurred with the decision to delist the Presque Isle Bay AOC.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will continue to monitor ecological conditions in Presque Isle Bay, with support from EPA. .
For more information on Presque Isle Bay, go to http://www.epa.gov/greatlakes/aoc/presque/index.html.
For more information on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, go to www.glri.us.