The NEMWI’s Great Ships Initiative (GSI) is a regional effort devoted to ending the problem of ship-mediated invasive species in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System and globally. Since its establishment in 2006, the primary objective of GSI has been to accelerate research, development and implementation of effective ballast water management systems (BWMSs) on board ships like those that visit the region from abroad. Specifically, GSI provides independent status and certification testing services to developers of BWMSs at the bench-scale, i.e., laboratory scale; at a land-based facility; and on board ships. GSI performs status tests for systems that are in the research and development stage.
As a US Coast Guard-certified Independent Laboratory capable of freshwater certification efficacy testing of market ready BWMSs, it also performs certification testing pursuant to US Coast Guard testing requirements. During the 2015 testing season, GSI certification testing services are completely booked including for evaluating the BWMS to be installed on FedNav, Ltd. vessels which frequently visit the Great Lakes from overseas. It matters to the NEMW region, including its states, industry, and resources, whether or not ships that visit the region have installed effective BWMS; NEMWI’s GSI is helping assure that BWMSs will meet the needs of the NEMW region.
- NEMWI’s GSI developed methods and individual plans to conduct large-scale high flow validation tests of ballast water management systems (BWMSs) on board ships and under more controlled conditions at a land-based facility consistent with US Coast Guard Certification requirements. These tests help determine if the BWMS will function properly and effectively in routine ship use. US Coast Guard (USCG) certification of a BWMS type is a necessary prerequisite to meeting federal requirements for BWMS use.
- NEMWI’s GSI conducted several large-scale tests for developers of BWMSs to help them understand the capabilities of their prototypes to cleanse ships’ ballast water of fresh water invasive organisms. These “status tests” help the developer prepare their BWMSs for successful certification tests.
- NEMWI’s GSI completed comprehensive tests under large-scale but controlled conditions showing what various commercially available ballast water filters can do to remove common and naturally diverse forms of freshwater organisms from ballast water.
- NEMWI’s GSI helped establish and implement the USCG-approved NSF International Independent Laboratory to deliver trusted information on freshwater BWMS performance for US Coast Guard certification decisions.
- NEMWIs GSI demonstrated and evaluated for the US Coast Guard, a proposed US federal protocol for ship board testing of BWMSs (the Environmental Technology Verification Program Draft Shipboard Protocol) on board a US Laker vessel.
- NEMWI’s GSI will conduct large-scale certification tests of candidate BWMSs on board operating ships and at the large-scale GSI land-based test facility, for US Coast Guard type approval consideration, to facilitate routine ballast water treatment by ships.
- NEMWI’s GSI will provide at least 10 tests of emerging BWMS technologies so that the BWMS developers can prepare them for successful certification tests.
- NEMWI’s GSI will continue to develop and improve better approaches for assessing BWMS performance in freshwater.
Testing Scales and Venues
GSI conducts tests in laboratories at a small scale, i.e., bench-scale tests, at the Lake Superior Research Institute located at the University of Wisconsin-Superior in Superior, Wisconsin. Test activities may have several goals including:
- Exploration of active substance degradation, dose effectiveness, and chronic residual toxicity of a proposed BWMS or component thereof;
- Range finding for effective treatment dose against diverse freshwater taxa and water quality conditions;
- Generation of freshwater-relevant chemical degradation curves;
- Estimation of residual toxicity given diverse freshwater taxa and water quality conditions; and
- Methods development and other research.
Also GSI conducts large-scale high flow tests under unique controlled conditions at its GSI Land-Based Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation (RDTE) Facility located in Superior, Wisconsin. The scale of these tests is far greater than bench-scale tests, but still at a smaller scale than most shipboard circumstances. GSI conducts the land-based tests using natural harbor water and organisms, large pumps, and retention tanks simulating ship ballast tanks. Parallel control and treatment tracks, and sophisticated sampling and analysis procedures, allow GSI to assess the impact of proposed BWMS units and processes. GSI land-based test activities may have several goals including:
- Pre-certification testing, i.e., operational and biological performance (including residual toxicity) status testing of BWMSs, and/or components thereof, over a range of challenge conditions;
- Certification testing, i.e., formal assessment of performance against international and other discharge standards; and
- Facility validations, methods development and other research.
GSI shipboard tests take place on board commercial vessels in the Great-Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System and globally. All tests take place during normal vessel operations and involve collection and analysis of continuous in-line samples during ballast intake and/or discharge operations. In general, the goals of GSI shipboard tests include:
- Demonstration or confirmation of biological and operational BWMS performance as expected in the ship environment;
- Certification testing, i.e., formal assessment of performance against state, federal and/or international discharge standards.;
- Post-approval ballast discharge and BWMS performance monitoring; and
- Methods development and other research.
Accomplishments and Impacts:
Ship-mediated invasive species are an economic and environmental hazard throughout the water-wealthy NEMW region. NEMWI’s GSI is helping assure that effective policy and technology are in place to protect the region’s Great Waters. GSI was the first purpose built ballast treatment testing facility globally, and the first freshwater ballast treatment testing facility to receive US Coast Guard approval as an Independent Laboratory. GSI has done the following:
- Provided vital third-party freshwater performance information to vendors of BWMSs at all stages of development to support efficient exploration of a wide range of possible treatment solutions;
- Created product development as responsive as possible to the requirements of freshwater environments like the Great Lake;
- Conducted over 19 comprehensive land-based tests on various BWMS prototypes, five shipboard tests of installed (temporarily or permanently) BWMSs, and more than 20 proof of concept tests at the bench-scale developed and validated a sophisticated ship discharge monitoring system; and
- Installed and demonstrated permanent ship monitoring apparati in eight Great Lakes ships.
Quality BWMS testing is critical to assuring real world BWMS performance. GSI teamed with other test facilities globally to raise the standard of testing, irrespective of salinity. In particular, GSI led the movement to greater Quality Control/Quality Assurance (QAQC) in BWMS tests by:
- Developing, demonstrating and presenting on US Environmental Protection Agency-consistent QAQC practices applicable to BWMS testing, and
- Contributing to federal policy and program development by vetting proposed US Environmental Protection Agency, Environmental Technology Verification Program’s draft shipboard and land-based protocols for the verification of ballast water management technologies.
Commercial cargo ships load harbor water—often vast amounts—to maintain stability and trim when they are not carrying full loads of cargo. They later discharge that harbor water as they load cargo at distant ports. The ballast water, drawn from natural aquatic systems globally, teams with organisms, some of which may become invasive in the ports of discharge. Ship-mediated invasive species has become a well-known and well documented ecological and economic problem worldwide. The Northeast-Midwest (NEMW) region’s Great Waters, including the Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Maine, Delaware River Delta, Long Island Sound, and the Great Lakes have all been degraded to some degree by ship-mediated invasive species. In the Great Lakes alone, out of the 180 known introduced species, more than one-third are suspected to have traveled to the lakes in commercial ships.
The problem has not run its course. The impacts of the Driessena, or zebra mussels, infestation in the Great Lakes have been resonating and amplifying for several decades since its introduction in the mid-to-late-1980s. Meanwhile, the global spectrum of possible new invasive species continues to grow with broadening trade patterns and faster ships.
The International Maritime Organization, the US Coast Guard, the US Environmental Protection Agency and several NEMW states have promulgated regulations requiring ballast water treatment by ships to reduce the risk of new ship-mediated invasive species introductions to US waters. However, testing capacity to conduct proof of concept, status and certification evaluations for BWMS prototypes is critical to effective and efficient market place response to these requirements. Until 2006, when the GSI was established, that capacity, especially in natural freshwater, was non-existent.
- Land-Based Performance Evaluation in Ambient and Augmented Duluth-Superior Harbor Water of Eight Commercially Available Ballast Water Treatment System Filter Units (2014). Cangelosi A, Aliff M, Allinger L, Balcer M, Beesley K, Fanberg L, Hagedorn S, Mangan T, Marksteiner A, Mays N, Polkinghorne C, Prihoda K, Reavie E, Regan D, Ruzycki E, Saillard H, Schaefer H, Schwerdt T, Stoolmiller M & TenEyck M. Great Ships Initiative, Northeast-Midwest Institute, Washington, D. C., USA.
- Final Report of the Shipboard Testing of the Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) Ballast Water Treatment System Onboard the MV Indiana Harbor (2013). Cangelosi A, Allinger L, Balcer M, Fanberg L, Fobbe D, Hagedorn S, Mangan T, Marksteiner A, Mays N, Polkinghorne C, Prihoda K, Reavie E, Regan D, Reid D, Ruzycki E, Saillard H, Schaefer H, Schwerdt T & TenEyck M. Great Ships Initiative, Northeast-Midwest Institute, Washington, D.C., USA.
- A Multi-Dimensional Approach to Invasive Species Prevention (2013). Briski E, Allinger L, Balcer M, Cangelosi A, Fanberg L, Markee T, Mays N, Polkinghorne C, Prihoda K, Reavie E, Regan D, Reid D, Saillard H, Schwerdt T, Schaefer H, TenEyck M, Wiley C & Bailey S. Environmental Science & Technology; 47(3): 1216-1221. (Copies available on request).
- Intercomparison of U.S. Ballast Water Test Facilities. Report No. SG-D-06-13 (2012). Drake LA, Weir TP, Grant JF, Parson EWJ & Lemieux EJ. U.S. Coast Guard, Research and Development Center, New London, CT.
- Final Report of Land-Based Freshwater Testing of a Ballast Water Treatment Involving Sodium Hypochlorite (NaOCl) (2012). Cangelosi A, Allinger L, Balcer M, Fanberg L, Fobbe D, Hagedorn S, Mangan T, Mays N, Polkinghorne C, Prihoda K, Reavie E, Regan D, Reid D, Ruzycki E, Saillard H, Schaefer H, Schwerdt T, Snetting T & TenEyck M. Great Ships Initiative, Northeast-Midwest Institute, Washington, D.C., USA.
- A Ballast Discharge Monitoring System for Great Lakes Relevant Ships: A Guidebook for Researchers, Ship Owners, and Agency Officials (2011). Cangelosi A, Schwerdt T, Mangan T, Mays N & Prihoda K. Great Ships Initiative, Northeast-Midwest Institute, Washington, D.C., USA.
- Final Report of the Land-Based Freshwater Testing of the Lye (NaOH) Ballast Water Treatment System (2011). Cangelosi A, Allinger L, Balcer M, Fanberg L, Hagedorn S, Markee T, Mays N, Polkinghorne C, Prihoda K, Reavie E, Regan D, Reid D, Ruzycki E, Saillard H, Schwerdt T, Schaefer H & TenEyck M. Great Ships Initiative, Northeast-Midwest Institute, Washington, D.C., USA.
- Final Report of the Land-Based Freshwater Testing of the AlfaWall AB PureBallast® Ballast Water Management System (2011). Cangelosi A, Allinger L, Balcer M, Fanberg L, Hagedorn S, Markee T, Mays N, Polkinghorne C, Prihoda K, Reavie E, Regan D, Reid D, Ruzycki E, Saillard H, Schwerdt T, Schaefer H & TenEyck M. Great Ships Initiative, Northeast-Midwest Institute, Washington, D.C., USA.
- Great Ships for the Great Lakes? Commercial Vessels Free Of Invasive Species in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System. A Scoping Report for the Great Ships Initiative (2006). Cangelosi A & Mays N. Northeast-Midwest Institute, Washington, D.C., USA.
- GSI website: www.greatshipsinitiative.org
- Additional GSI reports and papers: www.greatshipsinitiative.org/reports.html
- Applications for GSI testing services: www.greatshipsinitiative.org/applications.html
Partners in Our Work:
A Great Ships Initiative (GSI) Advisory Committee comprising top-level officials of key stakeholder groups advises on GSI award decisions, program direction, finances and fund-raising. The GSI Advisory Committee, which meets 3-4 times a year, includes elected leadership, environmental organizations, port directors and federal officials from the United States and Canada, and industry representatives. Current members include:
- Mr. Will Friedman, Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority (Chair)
- Mr. Vanta E. Coda II, Duluth Seaway Port Authority
- Mr. Anthony Ianello, Illinois International Port District
- Mr. Larry Sullivan, Port of Milwaukee
- Mr. Jody Peacock, Ports of Indiana
- Ms. Marilyn Baxter, Hamilton Port Authority
- Mr. Mike Riehl, Toronto Port Authority
- Mr. Georges Robichon, Fednav Group
- Mr. Bud Streeter, Lloyd’s Register
- Mr. Frank Hamons, Port of Baltimore
- Mr. Kirk Jones, CSL Group, Inc.
- Mr. Noel Bassett, American Steamship Company
- Mr. Tim Eder, Great Lakes Commission
- Mr. Joel Brammeier, Alliance for the Great Lakes
- Hon. Scott Walker (designee: Susan Sylvester), State of Wisconsin
- Hon. Mark Dayton (designee: Jeff Stollenwerk), State of Minnesota
- Hon. Andrew Cuomo (designee: Dave Adams), New York State
- Hon. Bruce Hagen, City of Superior, Wisconsin
Ex-officio committee members include:
- Mr. Craig Middlebrook, St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.
- Mr. Terrence Bowles, St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.
- Mr. Dorn Carlson, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
- Ms. Carolyn Junemann, U.S. Maritime Administration
- Mr. Ryan Albert, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- Dr. Richard Everett, U.S. Coast Guard
The American Great Lakes Ports Association advises the project, assuring that GSI is meeting the needs of the maritime industry; and coordinates maritime industry and supply chain outreach. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin’s Lake Superior Research Institute and the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute, among others, provide critical scientific and technical expertise and implementation services to the GSI Principal Investigator, Ms. Allegra Cangelosi. GSI also partners with the Maritime Environmental Research Center, NSF International and Retlif Testing Laboratories to conduct tests under the auspices of a US Coast Guard-approved Independent Laboratory.
GSI also draws on advice from many technical advisors in protocol development, data analysis and to review applications for GSI services from time to time. The relationship with these advisors is informal, voluntary, and on an as-needed basis. Experts include marine engineers, process engineers, toxicologists, biologists and test facility operators.
Funders of Our Work:
Funds to support GSI have been assembled from the private sector, federal grants, Congressional appropriations, foundations, and states, and include contributions from:
- Canadian and U.S. Great Lakes Port Authorities
- U.S. Maritime Administration
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
- U.S. Coast Guard Research and Development Center
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.
- St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.
- U.S. Department of Transportation
- Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources
- University of Wisconsin-Superior (in-kind)
- University of Minnesota-Duluth (in-kind)
- Great Lakes carrier companies (in-kind)
- Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute
- Great Lakes Protection Fund