Joyce, EPA announce Great Lakes grant; review Ashtabula River restoration

U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH) on Oct. 7 joined Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler in announcing a $694,000 federal Great Lakes restoration grant awarded to the Ohio EPA and reviewed the removal of the final restrictions on dredging activities at the Ashtabula River Area of Concern (AOC).

“I was proud to join Administrator Wheeler, a fellow Buckeye, in Cleveland this morning to make several important announcements that impact our region and highlight the progress we’ve made — as well as our ongoing efforts — to restore and protect the Great Lakes,” Rep. Joyce said during a press conference held at the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Cleveland Harbor. 

Following the press conference, Rep. Joyce and Wheeler traveled to Ashtabula, where they reviewed the progress being made in restoring the Ashtabula River AOC, which is the first AOC in Ohio to begin the delisting process. 

According to Rep. Joyce’s office, the EPA, industries, and state and federal partners have spent over $67.5 million during the last 15 years to clean up contaminated sediment and restore habitat in the Ashtabula River AOC. With the removal of the final Beneficial Use Impairment, Ohio now can initiate the delisting of this AOC.

“We are within sight of the finish line in terms of returning Ohio’s rivers to health again, so they can again become a place where people can swim, play, catch fish, and generally enjoy what this great state has to offer,” said Wheeler.

Rep. Joyce, co-chair of the House Great Lakes Task Force, called the Great Lakes a national treasure, economic powerhouse and one of the nation’s greatest natural resources. “It’s critical that we continue to do all we can to keep the lakes clean for the millions of Americans who depend on them and preserve them for future generations to enjoy,” the congressman said. 

The other press conference attendees were EPA Region 5 Administrator and Great Lakes National Program Manager Kurt Thiede; U.S. Geological Survey Director Jim Reilly; Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Mary Mertz; Ohio Lake Erie Commission Executive Director Joy Mulinex; Lt. Commander Jeremy Maginot, Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Station Cleveland Harbor; Northeast Regional Sewer District Cleveland CEO Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells; Ohio State Senate President Larry Obhof; and Ohio State Sen. Matt Dolan.