EPA Awards $6 Million to Ishpeming, Mich. to Stop Mercury Contamination

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 Administrator / Great Lakes National Program Manager Susan Hedman announced a $6 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant to the City of Ishpeming, Michigan, at an event there today with Mayor Pat Scanlon. The city will use the grant to eliminate mercury contamination in the Deer Lake “Area of Concern” on Lake Superior.

“This grant will allow the City of Ishpeming to stop the flow of mercury-contaminated water into Deer Lake and the Lake Superior watershed,” said Hedman. “When this project is completed in 2013, the Area of Concern will be ready to be designated as an area of recovery.”

A $2 million GLRI grant from EPA helped the city to begin work in 2010 to redirect the flow of Partridge Creek, which currently runs through mercury-contaminated mine shafts beneath Ishpeming and then into Deer Lake.

EPA is providing $4.8 million this year and $1.2 million next year for the project. When the work is completed, the underground stream will no longer flow through the abandoned mine, eliminating the source of mercury that is contaminating the Deer Lake AOC.

“The project to restore Partridge Creek will eliminate the largest point source of mercury to Deer Lake and is expected to be the last critical step in removing the Deer Lake Area of Concern from the list of toxic hotspots. The Michigan Office of the Great Lakes and the Department of Environmental Quality are grateful to the EPA for their funding support and to the City of Ishpeming and the Deer Lake Public Advisory Council for their continued efforts to improve local water quality,” said Patty Birkholz, Director of the Office of the Great Lakes.

"EPA's funding comes at just the right time to help us quickly finish this crucial diversion project," said Mayor Pat Scanlon. "This is great news for Deer Lake and for Ishpeming because it provides local jobs and helps preserve Lake Superior and the wild U.P. that we all value."

“Our Great Lakes and waterways are vital to the economy of the Upper Peninsula and our Michigan way of life,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow. “This Initiative will help Ishpeming protect Deer Lake and Lake Superior from mercury contamination, preserving fishing and other outdoor activities for years to come.”
In February 2009, President Obama proposed the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades. GLRI funds are being used to accelerate cleanup work in the 30 remaining AOCs identified by the U.S. and Canada in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement during the 1980s. EPA has targeted four AOCs in which cleanup work will be completed in 2012. Five more AOCs, including Deer Lake, are targeted for completion in 2013 and 2014.