Ballast water management systems for the Great Lakes

In Canada, vessels need to manage their ballast water by following the rules in the Ballast Water Regulations. Many vessels will do this by using a ballast water management system. These systems limit the number of organisms that vessels accidentally introduce into the water and reduce the risk of spreading invasive species.

Using ballast water management systems is hard in the Great Lakes because the water is cold, fresh, and mixed with sediment (like bits of rock, soil, and minerals).

In 2015, Transport Canada looked into the feasibility and cost of installing and operating ballast water management systems on the Great Lakes. This study is summarized below. 

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About the study

The study, called "Assessing the Feasibility of Ballast Water Treatment System Installation and Operation by Existing Vessels on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway System", describes 4 types of ballast water management systems:

  • side-stream electro-chlorination
  • ultra-violet sterilization
  • ozone injection
  • chemical injection

Earlier research shows that these 4 system types are a good fit for use in the Great Lakes.          

The study explains how each system type can be installed on 7 different categories of vessel. There are also detailed costs and engineering drawings for 5 sample vessels.

The study found that all systems could be installed on all the studied vessel categories and in all the sample vessels. That being said, the difficulty and cost of the installations varied widely, based on:

  • the vessel category
  • type of system, and
  • amount of ballast water carried by the vessel

Transport Canada used this study to develop the Ballast Water Regulations.

We're sharing it so vessel owners and operators have more technical information on installing and using ballast water management systems on the Great Lakes.

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