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Council transfers Montreal pier lease to UWS to resume ballast water treatment research

The research facility built for the Great Ships Initiative has been non-operational for the last couple years, according to Superior Port Director Jason Serck. A lease transfer approved by the City Council will allow the University of Wisconsin-Superior to resume work to test ballast water treatment systems to stop the spread of invasive organisms in the Great Lakes (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)1 / 2
The gate remains locked at the research facility where testing ballast water treatment systems to stop the spread of invasive organisms in the Great Lakes stopped a couple of years ago. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)2 / 2

Superior's City Council transferred a lease for the Montreal Pier to the University of Wisconsin-Superior so the university can resume testing ballast water treatment systems for on-ship applications.

The move shifts responsibility for the lease and research facility from Northeast-Midwest Institute of Washington, D.C., which had partnered with the university to operate a freshwater ballast testing facility as part of Great Ships Initiative.

The initiative developed a waterfront research facility to test the efficacy of ballast water treatment systems to eliminate invasive organisms before they get to the Great Lakes from overseas ports of call.

The city entered into the lease in 2008 with the university , then entered a longer term lease with the institute in 2012. Northeast-Midwest continued to work with UWS on the research until a couple of years ago when the two institutions severed their relationship, which lead to shutting down the facility on the Montreal Pier, also known as Elevator O.

In the past few months, the institution and university negotiated a release and agreement so the facility could resume operation and begin testing treatment systems again, said Jason Serck, economic development, port and planning director. He said one of the negotiated points was to reassign the lease to UWS.

"They've done a really great job of bringing it forward and putting it on the map," Serck said of Northeast-Midwest Institute and the Great Ships Initiative. "It's just time to move this over to an organization that is more local."

Serck said UWS could begin testing this year with one system, and expanding that in coming years.

Efforts to reach university officials involved in the project were unsuccessful.

"At this time, we don't have anyone available," UWS spokesman Jim Biros wrote in response to an emailed request.

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