Great Ships Initiative

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Oct 21, 2014 Comments Off on Great Ships Initiative admin

NEMWI’s Great Ships Initiative (GSI) fuses interests, expertise, and resources from the federal government, academic institutions, states, industry, environmental groups, cities, and ports in the United States and Canada to generate critical information and incentives for solving the problem of ship-mediated invasive species in the Great Lakes and globally through sound and efficient ballast water treatment.

Ballast water from commercial vessels is likely responsible for nearly 1/3 of the 150 aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes. The National Invasive Species Act (1990, amended 1996) requires ships to treat ballast water by a date certain to stop live organism discharges. Resource advocates also petitioned for federal regulation of ballast water under the Clean Water Act, which delegates certain authority to states. Disagreements over appropriate federal and state limits, fueled by conflicting or non-existent information on availability and effectiveness of ballast water treatment (BWT) escalated to lawsuits and threatened the region’s maritime transportation network.

The Northeast-Midwest Institute responded in 2006 by organizing states, regional universities, ports, and the maritime industry into a shared Great Ships Initiative (GSI). GSI aims to usher in routine use of effective BWTs applicable to Great Lakes-relevant ships through high quality, low cost, and independent BWT performance testing to developers at the bench, land-based and shipboard scales. It also develops effective monitoring and enforcement methods.  GSI’s Land-Based Test Facility in Superior, WI is the premier freshwater BWT test facility globally, and the only one certified to supply BWT test data to the U.S. Coast Guard for freshwater approval decisions.

An advisory committee of maritime and resource interests, mayors, governors, and federal agency officials assures GSI findings remain objective, timely, relevant to regional needs, and accessible to target audiences.

Activities and Output (2013):

  • Nine consecutive ballast water management system (BWMS) filter system tests in Great Lakes waters in collaboration with filter vendors and ship owners.
  • Validation of EPA ETV ship-based BWMS test protocol in the Great Lakes.
  • Validation of GSI Ship Discharge Monitoring System approach.
  • Proof of concept bench tests of emerging BWMS technologies.
  • Independent Laboratory status to allow type approval testing of BWMS in Great Lakes water.