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Water: Planning

Definitions/Contacts for FY 2010 National Water Program Guidance Measures: Subobjective: Improve the Health of the Great Lakes

Measure Code: 4.3.3

Measure Language: Improve the overall ecosystem health of the Great Lakes by preventing water pollution and protecting aquatic ecosystems.

Type of Measure: Target measure; Annually reported

Measure Contact:  Michael Russ, EPA Great Lakes National Program Office
russ.michael@epa.gov | (312) 886-4013

Measure Definition

Terms and phrases: Measures under EPA’s Great Lakes annual performance goal assess the overall progress U.S. environmental programs are making in protecting and restoring the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Great Lakes ecosystem. Improvements in the index and measures would indicate that fewer toxics are entering the food chain; ecosystem and human health is better protected; fish are safer to eat; water is safer to drink; and beaches are safer for swimming.

Methodology for computation of results: The Great Lakes Index uses assessments of the condition of select ecosystem indicators (i.e., coastal wetlands, phosphorus concentrations, Areas of Concern (AOC) sediment contamination, benthic health, fish tissue contamination, beach closures, drinking water quality, and air toxics deposition) to assess the overall condition of the Great Lakes.  The assessments use best professional judgment to assign a 1 to 5 rating for each indicator, where 1 is poor and 5 is good.  This results in an overall “universe” of a 40 point scale.

Units: Points on the scale

Universe: 40 point scale

Baseline: 21.5 points on the 40 point scale (2005)


Measure Code: SP-29

Measure Language: Average annual percentage decline for the long-term trend in concentrations of PCBs in whole lake trout and walleye samples.

Type of Measure: Target measure; Annually reported

Measure Contact: Michael Russ, EPA Great Lakes National Program Office
russ.michael@epa.gov | (312) 886-4013

Measure Definition

Terms and phrases:  PCBs are polychlorinated biphenyls.

Methodology for computation of results: This measure is part of the Open Lakes Trend Monitoring Program for the Great Lakes.  The Program was created to: (1) determine time trends in contaminant concentrations, (2) assess impacts of contaminants on the fishery using fish as biomonitors, and (3) assess potential risk to the wildlife that consume contaminated fish.  The whole fish element includes data from ten 600-700 mm lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) whole fish composites (5 fish in each composite) from each of the lakes.  Since sufficient lake trout are not found in the western basin of Lake Erie, data for 400 – 500 mm walleye (Stizostedion vitreum vitreum) are used for that Lake. Each Great Lake is a unique environment with a distinct growth rate, food web, and chemical integrity.  For this reason, a direct comparison of annual concentrations between basins is not appropriate.  However, an average annual basin-wide percent decrease can be determined using an exponential decrease function, and the 1990 data as the baseline.

The percent decrease of Element 1 can be calculated and compared to the 5% reduction target to determine if the target has been met.  All years of data from all lakes are plotted on the same graph, with each year containing 5 data points.  An exponential decrease is then found for the entire data set and the percent decrease is calculated from the best fit line.  The EPA Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) rounds the calculated value to the nearest whole percentage for reporting and comparison purposes.  The Lake Michigan data set represents the worst case scenario in the Great Lakes Basin for the Open Lakes Trend Monitoring Program.

The Program collects and monitors contaminants in Great Lakes fish at alternating locations throughout the Great Lakes Basin; fish are collected at one set of sites during even years and at another set in odd years. The element for this measure began with the collection of data in Lake Michigan in 1972 and the additional lakes were added in 1976.

In FY 2009, the database will contain quality reviewed field data from fish collected in 2007 and all quality reviewed analytical data for fish collected between 1972 and 2006. Data collected in 2007 is expected to be able to be used for reporting in 2009. Data are reported on a calendar year basis and are specific to the even or odd year sampling schedule (even year sites are only compared to other even year sites etc.)

Units: Decline in PCBs

Universe: n/a

Baseline: 1990 concentration levels at stations in Lakes Superior (0.45ppm), Michigan (2.72 ppm), Huron (1.5ppm, Erie 1.35ppm) and Ontario (2.18ppm).


Measure Code: SP-30

Measure Language: Average annual percentage decline for the long-term trend in concentrations of toxic chemicals (PCBs) in the air in the Great Lakes Basin.

Type of Measure: Target measure; Annually reported

Measure Contact:  Michael Russ, EPA Great Lakes National Program Office
russ.michael@epa.gov | (312) 886-4013

Measure Definition

Terms and phrases: PCBs are polychlorinated biphenyls.

Methodology for computation of results: Atmospheric deposition has been shown to be a significant source of pollutants to the Great Lakes.  This measure uses information from the Great Lakes Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network (IADN), operated jointly by the U.S. and Canada.  The measure determines trends in concentrations of PCBs in Great Lakes atmospheric deposition.  Although IADN includes both U.S. and Canadian information, only U.S. information is included in this measure.  Reporting starts with 1992 data and this measure includes concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).  Monitoring results from 2007 will be reported in FY2009. 

There are five master IADN stations, one for each lake, which are supplemented by satellite stations in other locations.  The master stations are located in remote areas and are meant to represent regional background levels.  Concentrations from the master stations are used for the performance measure.  Air samples are collected for 24 hours using high-volume samplers containing an adsorbent.  Precipitation samples are collected as 28-day composites.  Laboratory analysis protocols generally call for solvent extraction of the organic sampling media with addition of surrogate recovery standards.  Extracts are then concentrated followed by column chromatographic cleanup, fractionation, nitrogen blow-down to small volume (about 1 mL) and injection (typically 1uL) into gas chromatography instruments. Statistical summaries of annual concentrations are generated by the program and used as input into an atmospheric loading calculation.  Averaged annual concentrations rather than the loadings are used in the performance measure.

This performance measure examines the average percent decline for the long-term trenddetermined using an exponential decrease function.  Each year the average percent decline is calculated after adding new data.  GLNPO rounds the calculated value to the nearest whole percentage for reporting and comparison purposes.  A baseline percent decrease was determined using data through 2000, and the aim is that this rate of decrease will continue.

Units: Decline in PCBs

Universe: n/a

Baseline: Concentration levels for the U.S. stations at Lakes Superior (100 pg/m3), Michigan (289 pg/m3), and Erie (431 pg/m3). (1992)


Measure Code: SP-31

Measure Language: Number of Areas of Concern (AOCs) in the Great Lakes Basin which are restored and de-listed. (cumulative)

Type of Measure: Target measure; Annually reported

Measure Contact:  Michael Russ, EPA Great Lakes National Program Office
russ.michael@epa.gov | (312) 886-4013

Measure Definition

Terms and phrases: A de-listing indicates that the area now meets the public’s vision for that area and that it is no longer among the most polluted areas in the Great Lakes.

Methodology for computation of results: This measure uses information from the Great Lakes National Program Office.  Of the universe of 31 U.S. and Bi-national Areas of Concern, none were restored and de-listed in the baseline year of 2005.  One has been de-listed since then, in 2006, thus the cumulative total is 1.  De-listing of an Area of Concern requires a determination that the beneficial uses at the Area of Concern are not impaired.  Each Area of Concern may have up to 14 beneficial use impairments.

Units: Areas of Concern (AOCs)

Universe: 31


Measure Code: SP-32

Measure Language: Cubic yards of contaminated sediments remediated (cumulative) in the Great Lakes.

Type of Measure: Target measure; Annually reported

Measure Contact:  Michael Russ, EPA Great Lakes National Program Office
russ.michael@epa.gov | (312) 886-4013

Measure Definition

Terms and phrases: 

Methodology for computation of results: This measure totals the cumulative volume of contaminated sediments remediated in the Great Lakes since 1997, the first year for which this information was collected. The Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) collects sediment remediation data from various State and Federal project managers across the Great Lakes region that conduct and coordinate contaminated sediments work.  These data are obtained directly from the project manager via an information fact sheet the project manager completes for any site in the Great Lakes basin that has performed any remedial work on contaminated sediment. The data collected to track sediment remediation in the Great Lakes show the amount of sediment remediated (dredged, capped, other) for that year, the amount of sediment remediated in prior years, and the amount of sediment remaining to be addressed for a particular site. Data are reported approximately one year after the completion of work, thus, results from calendar year 2008 remediation will be reported in FY 2009.

Units: Million cubic yards

Universe: The universe of contaminated sediments requiring remediation in the Great Lakes is believed to have been approximately 46 million cubic yards in 1997.

Baseline: 3.7 million cubic yards cumulative total in calendar year 2004 (reported FY2005).


Measure Code: GL-1

Measure Language: Number, and percent of all NPDES permitted discharges to the Lakes or major tributaries that have permit limits that reflect the Guidance’s water quality standards, where applicable.

Type of Measure: Target measure; Annually reported

Measure Contact:  Michael Russ, EPA Great Lakes National Program Office
russ.michael@epa.gov | (312) 886-4013

Measure Definition

Terms and phrases:  NPDES stands for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.

Methodology for computation of results: This measure tracks progress against a commitment that 100% of all National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitted discharges to the Lakes or major tributaries will have permit limits that reflect the Great Lakes Water Quality Guidance’s water quality standards, where applicable.  EPA Regions 2, 3, and 5 work with the states to track and implement the applicable permits.

Units: Discharges

Universe: The universe for this measure changes with current information.

Baseline: 91.9% / 2,883 (2005)


Measure Code: GL-2

Measure Language: Number, and Great Lakes percent, using a constant denominator, of Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) permits with a schedule incorporated into an appropriate enforceable mechanism, including a permit or enforcement order, with specific dates and milestones, including a completion date consistent with Agency guidance, which requires:  1) implementation of a Long Term Control Plan (LTCP) which will result in compliance with the technology and water quality-based requirements of the Clean Water Act or; 2) implementation of any other acceptable CSO control measures consistent with the 1994 CSO Control Policy; or 3) completion of separation after the baseline date. (cumulative)

Type of Measure: Target measure; Annually reported

Measure Contact:  Michael Russ, EPA Great Lakes National Program Office
russ.michael@epa.gov | (312) 886-4013

Measure Definition  

Terms and phrases:  Combined sewer systems are sewers that are designed to collect rainwater runoff, domestic sewage, and industrial wastewater in the same pipe. During periods of heavy rainfall or snowmelt, however, the wastewater volume in a combined sewer system can exceed the capacity of the sewer system or treatment plant.  These overflows, called combined sewer overflows (CSOs), contain not only stormwater but also untreated human and industrial waste, toxic materials, and debris.

Methodology for computation of results: Measure assesses Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) permits in the Great Lakes. Regions 2, 3, and 5 collect this information, working with the Great Lakes States.

Units: CSO permits

Universe: The universe for this measure changes with current information.

Baseline: 85% / 129 (2002)


Measure Code: GL-3

Measure Language: Percent of high priority Tier 1 (significant) Great Lakes beaches where States and local agencies have put into place water quality monitoring and public notification programs that comply with the U.S. EPA National Beaches Guidance.

Type of Measure: Target measure; Annually reported

Measure Contact:  Michael Russ, EPA Great Lakes National Program Office
russ.michael@epa.gov | (312) 886-4013

Measure Definition

Terms and phrases:  Significant public beaches are defined as the beaches that coastal and Great Lakes states and territories identify as Tier 1.  These are the beaches that states identify as the most frequently used and/or that have the highest risk.  States and territories must ranktheir beaches as part of their BEACH Act grant application and develop a tiered monitoring plan based on the beach classification.

Methodology for computation of results: This measure currently tracks whether monitoring and notification programs remain in place at 100% of high priority Great Lakes beaches.  Regions 2, 3, and 5 collect this information, working with the Great Lakes States.

Units: Beaches

Universe: The numerical universe for this measure changes with current information.

Baseline: 325 / 100% (2008)


Measure Code: GL-4 (a,b)

Measure Language: Number of near term Great Lakes Actions completed or are on track.

Type of Measure: Indicator measure; Annually reported

Measure Contact:  Michael Russ, EPA Great Lakes National Program Office
russ.michael@epa.gov | (312) 886-4013

Measure Definition

Terms and phrases: 

Methodology for computation of results: The federal Interagency Task Force committed to 48 Near Term Actions for Great Lakes protection and restoration, as guided by the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy.   This measure currently tracks the status of those Near Term Actions.

Units: Actions

Universe: Following determinations that 3 of these actions were long-term commitments and 1 would be canceled, the universe of Near Term Actions is now 44.

Baseline: There were no Near Term Actions (or completions) in 2005.


Measure Code: GL-5

Measure Language: Number of beneficial use impairments removed within Areas of Concern. (cumulative)

Type of Measure: Target measure; Annually reported

Measure Contact:  Michael Russ, EPA Great Lakes National Program Office
russ.michael@epa.gov | (312) 886-4013

Measure Definition

Additional information is available at: http://www.epa.gov/glnpo/aoc/index.html

Terms and phrases:  An impaired beneficial use means a change in the chemical, physical or biological integrity of the Great Lakes system sufficient to cause any of the following:

  • restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption;
  • tainting of fish and wildlife flavor;
  • degradation of fish wildlife populations;
  • fish tumors or other deformities;
  • bird or animal deformities or reproduction problems;
  • degradation of benthos;
  • restrictions on dredging activities;
  • eutrophication or undesirable algae;
  • restrictions on drinking water consumption, or taste and odor problems;
  • beach closings;
  • degradation of aesthetics;
  • added costs to agriculture or industry;
  • degradation of phytoplankton and zooplankton populations; or
  • loss of fish and wildlife habitat.

Methodology for computation of results: This measure tracks the cumulative total Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) removed within the 26 Areas of Concern (AOC) located entirely within the United States and the five AOCs that are shared by both the United States and Canada.  The States work with the local stakeholders in the Areas of Concern to develop delisting criteria for the impaired BUIs. The BUI de-listing criteria are used to assess when a BUI is restored and can be de-listed. After all BUIs in an AOC are de-listed, the entire Area of Concern can be de-listed.

Restoration of U.S. or Bi-national Areas of Concern will ultimately be measured by the removal of all beneficial use impairments, leading to de-listing of all of the U.S. or Bi-national Areas of Concern.  A total of 43 Great Lakes Areas of Concern have been identified: 26 located entirely within the United States; 12 located wholly within Canada; and 5 that are shared by both countries. 30 United States or Bi-national Areas of Concern remain. Remedial Action Plans for each of these Areas of Concern address one or more of up to 14 beneficial use impairments associated with these areas.

Units: Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs)

Universe: At the end of FY 2006, there was a total universe of 260 beneficial use impairments reported in the United States or Bi-national Areas of Concern.

Baseline: The baseline was the total of 6 beneficial use impairments that had been removed at the end of FY 2006.

 


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