Midwest Environmental Advocates is a nonprofit environmental law center that works for healthy water, air, land and government for this generation and the next. We believe that every citizen has the potential to make a difference.

menu
Home » Issues & Actions » Actions » Ballast Water and the Great Lakes

Ballast Water and the Great Lakes

— Recently, the EPA issued a Vessel General Permit that set limitations on discharges of ballast water by oceangoing and Great Lakes vessels. Midwest Environmental Advocates and National Wildlife Federation are appealing the DNR’s decision to approve this insufficiently protective permit.

Case Summary

Ballast water is the water that is taken on by shipping vessels in order to stabilize the vessel and provide for better handling. When ships load or unload their cargo, or need to change the handling or maneuverability of their vessels, they fill or empty their ballast tanks. This means that vessels that travel between different bodies of water end up transferring the water – and the organisms that live in the water – from one waterbody to another. Thus, invasive species can get a free ride to new ports of call.  Invasive species threaten native fish populations and aquatic species, especially in the ecologically sensitive Great Lakes.  

Recently, the EPA issued a Vessel General Permit that set limitations on discharges of ballast water by oceangoing and Great Lakes vessels. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources approved this general permit without properly taking in to consideration whether it will protect our state’s water quality standards and designated water uses. Midwest Environmental Advocates, on behalf of National Wildlife Federation,Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and the Natural Resources Defense Council, has appealed the DNR’s decision to approve this insufficiently protective permit.

We know we have important water resources here in Wisconsin and we believe that ballast water permits need to be strict enough to protect Wisconsin’s waters.