Before heading down the Brule River in a canoe Thursday, Aug. 8, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., made a stop in Superior to learn more about efforts to test ballast water treatment systems.

Montreal Pier Ballast Water Treatment System Testing Facility on the city’s waterfront is the only freshwater testing facility in the nation. Operated by the Lake Superior Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, the facility tests the efficacy of treatment systems for ships with the goal of stopping the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species.

The facility operates with funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, said Matt TenEyck, director of LSRI.

“I’ve been a huge fan of something called the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative,” Baldwin said. “For many years now, there’s been a steady commitment to funding projects, sometimes hands-on projects, sometimes applied research projects like this, to protect the health and long-term sustainability of the largest freshwater body on earth, the Great Lakes.”

She said in recent years it has been a struggle with the president nearly zeroed out funding in each of his budgets. However, Congress responded by maintaining funding levels.

“Just a couple of weeks ago, I joined two of my colleagues who are both Great Lakes senators, one Republican and one Democrat, in introducing legislation to reauthorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative,” Baldwin said. “For the first time, we have a very strong bipartisan agreement that we need to put in more resources.”

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, left, looks over the Montreal Pier Ballast Water Treatment System Testing Facility as she listens to researcher Kelsey Prihoda talk about the facility during a tour on Thursday morning. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, left, looks over the Montreal Pier Ballast Water Treatment System Testing Facility as she listens to researcher Kelsey Prihoda talk about the facility during a tour on Thursday morning. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

Senators Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., serve as co-chairs of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, and representatives David Joyce, R-Ohio, and Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, joined Baldwin to introduce the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2019.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is set to expire at the end of fiscal year 2021.

The bill would reauthorize funding for five years and increase the funding commitment from $300 million the first year to $475 million over those during the last year of the commitment.

“Given the challenges our Great Lakes face, this is a very important commitment to make,” Baldwin said. “A lot of our August visits have us visiting places that receive Great Lakes funding, and this is a supreme example. UW-Superior is really in the lead and taking a very strong role in this unique asset … the ability to keep our Great Lakes free of additional invasive species. Many of those ideas will be borne here.”

Baldwin said it was exciting to learn about the facility and its ability to test treatment systems that could one day stop the introduction and spread of invasive species in the Great Lakes.

Kelsey Prihoda, left, a researcher at the Montreal Pier Ballast Water Treatment System Testing Facility, answers  questions from U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, center, and Dr. Matt TenEyck of Lake Superior Research Institute during a tour of the facility on Thursday morning. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
Kelsey Prihoda, left, a researcher at the Montreal Pier Ballast Water Treatment System Testing Facility, answers questions from U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, center, and Dr. Matt TenEyck of Lake Superior Research Institute during a tour of the facility on Thursday morning. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

Kelsey Prihoda, who manages the facility, estimated about 50 different technologies have been tested at the site in the 10 years it has been in operation. Testing is also done on ships.

Lake Superior Research Institute plans to host free tours of the Montreal Pier Ballast Water Treatment System Testing Facility on Aug. 20 from 1-3 p.m. at 22 19th Ave. E.

The open house will allow visitors to learn about Lake Superior Research Institute’s research on aquatic invasive species and its newly acquired facility. Tours will leave the main area at 1:30, 2, and 2:30 p.m. LSRI, University of Minnesota Duluth, and AMI Consulting Engineers staff will be available to discuss and demonstrate the unique features of the facility.

“The new ballast water treatment facility allows us to advance the research and development of ballast water treatment technologies,” TenEyck said. “It keeps at a minimum fresh water, and more importantly the Great Lakes, as a player in the development of treatment technologies to help mitigate the spread of aquatic nuisance species.”

For tour information, contact TenEyck at 715-394-8160 or mteneyck@uwsuper.edu.

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin looks at tanks on Montreal Pier as she listens to researcher Kelsey Prihoda talk about the facility on Thursday morning. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin looks at tanks on Montreal Pier as she listens to researcher Kelsey Prihoda talk about the facility on Thursday morning. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)