Environmental Performance Partnership Agreement
State of the Lakes Ecosytem Conference
Bethlehem Steel Community Advisory Committee
The Environmental Protection Agency has been developing the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) to assess and document the status and trends in the condition of the nation's ecological resources. The program focuses on monitoring and assessing the environmetnal condition of (1) agricultural lands; (2) estuaries; (3) forests; (4) Great Lakes; (5) lakes and streams; (6) rangelands; and (7) landscape ecology. Eight coordinating groups provide support to these monitoring and assessment activities and promote integration across resource groups categorized as (1) Air and Climate; (2) Assessment and Reporting; (3) Design and Statistics; (4) Indicators; (5) Information Management; (6) Landscape Characterization; (7) Methods; and (8) Quality Management.62 The EMAP strategy identifies three main categories of indicators: (1) response indicators (2) exposure or habitat indicators, and (3) stressor indicators.63 EPA has also drafted indicator profile sheets for environmental indicators to assess the effectiveness of municipal and industrial stormwater control programs.64
The Forum and Technical Coordinating Committee for the Lake Michigan Lakeside Management Plan (LaMP) are developing indicators for the basin. To date the indicators that have been established are draft. There are some sets of indicators appropriate for habitats in the southern Lake Michigan basin and other indicators appropriate for the northern Lake Michigan basin.65
In June 1997, the EPA published The Index of Watershed Indicators covering 2,111 watersheds in the United States. The purpose of the index is to "(1) characterize the condition and vulnerability to pollution of the watersheds of the United States; (2) provide the basis for dialogue between water quality managers; (3) empower citizens to learn more about their watersheds and work to protect them; and (4) measure progress toward EPA's goal that all watersheds will be healthy and productive places."66
The index includes 15 water quality indicators supported by data from States, Tribes, EPA, Census Bureau, NRCS, NOAA, The Nature Conservancy, US Army Corps of Engineers, USGS, Fish and Wildlife Service, and several public and private individuals. Two categories of information constitute the index: condition and vulnerability. These two characteristics are mapped. The conditions provide information on watersheds across the country. The vulnerability data layers show where discharges and other stressors impact the watershed. EPA plans to build upon this information and continue to improve the index.
National Environmental Performance Partnership Agreements (see Water Quality) call for setting environmental goals and using environmental performance measures to show progress in improving environmental conditions. The IDEM uses indicators to assess its progress toward meeting the objectives of the Agreement. The Agreement also adopted performance measures outlined by states and EPA in the DRAFT JOINT STATEMENT ON MESURING PROGRESS UNDER THE NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE PARTERSHIP SYSTEM completed in August 1997.67
One effort of the State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference (SOLEC) held in October 1998 in Buffalo, New York was to develop a set of indicators reflective of the state of major ecosystem components for the Great Lakes. Included among these componenets were offshore and nearshore waters, coastal wetlands, nearshore terrestrial environments, human health, stewardship, and socio-economics. The indicators nominated for the SOLEC list were extracted primarily from existing Great Lakes documents such as the Lakewide Management Plans and fish community objectives. The goal of the project was to gather a suite of indicators that would be most useful basin-wide, as well as understandable to the public, while remaining scientifically valid. SOLEC applied the Pressure-State-Response indicator model, one of the most widely accepted classification schemes for environmental indicators.68
The Bethlehem Steel Community Advisory Committee is partly an endeavor of the EPA Common Sense Initiative. Through the Community Advisory Committee, Bethlehem Steel in Burns Harbor will seek to achieve its goal of becoming a good neighbor. See Economic Development, Recent Developments. The Committee has embarked on a process to assist the company with the development of environmental performance measures that will indicate progress the company makes with regard to environmental enhancement initiatives. Examples of current areas of focus include odor, noise, air, water, and waste.