Following government initiatives to clean up the Great Lakes, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved the programs of six Great Lakes states in the cleanup effort.
Two states, Minnesota and Pennsylvania, had programs fully consistent with federal Clean Water Act standards and the 1995 Great Lakes Guidance. Four states' programs, those of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, were approved with minor exceptions in each state.
Under the l995 Great Lakes Guidance issued by EPA and all eight Great Lakes states, the states agreed to adopt programs consistent with the Guidance to ensure cleanup of the Great Lakes. Under the Clean Water Act, states may adopt their own programs providing they are consistent with and as stringent as federal criteria and standards.
EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner recently announced that EPA soon will finalize a ban on "mixing zones" in the Great Lakes for the most toxic, bioaccumulative chemicals of concern, such as mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and pesticides. Mixing zones are areas within a waterway used to dilute chemical discharges and thus are allowed to exceed water quality standards. EPA estimates that, as a result of the ban, load reductions of these bioaccumulative chemicals will range from 200,000 to 700,000 toxic pound equivalents a year. Direct water discharges of mercury will be reduced by almost 90 percent.
(Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)