Frequently Asked QuestionsContact: Ballast Reporting Program staff 517-449-6307
Question: Why was the Ballast Water Reporting Legislation passed?
Answer: The State of Michigan wants to take action to protect the Great Lakes from aquatic invasive species.
Question: What problems associated with ballast water discharges will we see in the future if we do not act?
Answer: If actions are not taken to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species, additional species will be transported into the Great Lakes (and from the Great Lakes to other parts of the world) through ballast water. Additional major impacts such as elimination of native species may be seen on the Great Lakes ecosystem.
Question: How do I know if the owner/operator of the vessel that delivers cargo to my company is on the DEQ's Ballast Water Reporting List?
Answer: You may access the DEQ's Ballast Water Reporting List
Question: The DEQ's Ballast Water Reporting List identifies owners/operators and vessels. How do I know if the owner/operator that our company/municipality contracts with uses a vessel that is not identified on the list.
Answer: You will have to contact the owner/operator directly.
Question: What if a company/municipality receives cargo from a vessel that operates on the Great Lakes, but the actual contract is between the vendor providing the cargo and the vessel? Would that make the business receiving the cargo subject to the grant/loan ineligibility?
Answer: In this case the penalties do not apply. For the penalties to apply the contract has to be directly with the owner/operator.
Question: What are the penalties for non-compliance with the Ballast Water Program legislation?
Answer: Businesses or municipalities that have goods carried by ships not on the Ballast Water Reporting List are not eligible for a new grant, loan or award from the DEQ.
Question: How can I find out about DEQ's ballast Water permit requirements?
Answer: Information on the DEQ's Ballast Water Control Port Operations and Ballast Water Discharge requirements
Question: What is Ballast Water?
Answer: Ballast water is carried in tanks on ships for stability when lightly loaded. Ballast water is pumped into the tanks when an empty ship starts a journey and pumped out when it takes on cargo at its destination.
Question: Why are Aquatic Invasive Species a Problem in Ballast Water?
Answer: Ships can take on ballast water in areas with water pollution or in areas where fish and plants are numerous. The water is not filtered or treated. When a ship discharges the ballast water, any pollutants, fish, or plants that survived the trip are released into the new location. If the new location is favorable, the organisms, including bacteria, fish, plants, or viruses can grow very large populations because their natural predators and diseases are absent. These aquatic invasive species cause major changes in ecosystems and cost Michigan residents millions of dollars per year to control.
Question: What Are Some Examples of Species Introduced in Ballast Water?
Answer: Zebra mussels (well known threat to infrastructure by clogging intake pipes and beaches), Round goby (fish that competes with desirable native species), Spiny water flea (inedible zooplankton that disrupts the bottom of the food web), Ruffe (fish that competes with desirable native species) and others.
Question: What else is Being Done to Protect Michigan Waters?
Answer: The following efforts are currently underway:
- The National Invasive Species Act requires ships entering the Great Lakes from the St. Lawrence Seaway to have exchanged their ballast water with salt water in the ocean. This reduces the number and survivability of organisms in the tanks. Some ships come in fully loaded with no ballast on board, so they do not have to do the ballast exchange. However, some unpumpable material still remains in the tanks that can contain organisms.
- The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation and the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation have incorporated ballast water management practices into the Practices and Procedures for the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Question: Where can I look for additional information on Aquatic Invasive Species?
Answer: More information can be found on the DEQ's Aquatic Invasive Species web site
Additional information and pictures can be found at the following web sites.