The University of Wisconsin-Superior Lake Superior Research Institute (LSRI) announced the launch of its Great Waters Research Collaborative (GWRC), a major project devoted to assessing effectiveness of tools for sustainable industrial, commercial and public use of the nation’s Great Waters, especially green shipping.

The project’s immediate focus is assessing the effectiveness of ballast water management systems (BWMS) at preventing introductions of aquatic invasive species (AIS) by commercial cargo ships, the campus said in a news release. Specifically, the GWRC conducts type approval tests of candidate BWMS for US Coast Guard and International Maritime Organization certification review. The project is also developing and testing methods for determining changes in AIS introduction risk in the Great Lakes. All GWRC work is well coordinated with and helps inform current state, federal and international policy activity.

The GWRC comprises researchers with expertise from the LSRI, the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute, and AMI Consulting Engineers to deliver a research capacity for maritime-related environmental research services. The GWRC team bring more than 15 years of experience working together on ballast water research within the Great Ships Initiative, created by the Northeast-Midwest Institute (NEMWI). The GWRC team, including Allegra Cangelosi as PI, is building on its experiences now under the auspices of the LSRI.

“The LSRI is pleased to be part of GWRC, a truly collaborative project, which conducts research that can be applied to solve problems and improve health, quality of life, the environment for all citizens within the Great Lakes region and beyond,” said Dr. Matt TenEyck, Director of the LSRI. “This applied research approach directed at green shipping is consistent with LSRI’s mission, and a great fit.” 

“The GWRC will also provide non-traditional learning and applied research opportunities for undergraduate students,” said UW-Superior Chancellor Renée Wachter. 

“We are excited to continue our objective performance evaluations of technologies and policies designed to protect Great Waters such as the Great Lakes,” Cangelosi said. “We focus our evaluations not only on prospective BWMS, but also the type approval protocols used for approving BWMS, and the ballast water discharge standards, themselves, to help improve understanding of their capacity to protect the Great Lakes and other Great Waters. Our findings are critical to the continuous improvement of those policies and technologies, and to helps the regional, national and international stakeholders of healthy Great Waters resources to have confidence in green shipping innovations, like BWMS, as an environmental protection tool.”

Current GWRC projects include USCG shipboard certification testing of a promising BWMS via the Control Union Corporation (CUC) and NSF International. The GWRC also is constructing a Great Lakes-relevant global database of ballast-water uptake characteristics to improve understanding of the challenge conditions in which BWMS must operate; assessing movements of organisms by laker ships through a Great Lakes Ship Discharge Monitoring Project; and bench-testing of prototype BWMS, all with funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, via the Maritime Administration.