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Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) Task Force
An intergovernmental organization dedicated to preventing and controlling aquatic nuisance species, and implementing the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act (NANPCA) of 1990. The Task force coordinates governmental efforts dealing with ANS. 


Ballast water
Water carried by ships to increase balance, stability and safety.

Biofiltration area
A specially designed bioretention area that includes an underdrain and expanded sub-root zone infiltration bed.

Bioretention area
A shallow surface depression planted with specially selected native vegetation to capture and treat the first flush of stormwater runoff from rooftops, streets, and parking lots.

Previously developed sites. With certain legal exclusions and additions, the term “brownfield site” means real property, the expansion, redevelopment or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. (Source: EPA)


Colonial nesting birds
A collective term for a variety of bird species that share two common characteristics: 1) they tend to gather in large assemblages, called colonies, during the nesting season, and 2) they obtain all or most of their food (fish and aquatic invertebrates) from the water. (Source: USFWS)

Comprehensive Plan
An all-inclusive, long-range plan for the future growth of a community. The plan is designed to reflect community values and goals to guide policymakers regarding decisions about the physical development of the community. The plan describes land use patterns according to whether a given district or parcel will be devoted to residential, commercial, water dependent use, etc. Because they are usually visionary, non-binding documents, comprehensive plans must be implemented through zoning and local ordinances, capital investments, and programmatic initiatives. (Source: NOAA Smart Growth for Coastal & Waterfront Communities via Sustainable Working Waterfronts Toolkit)


Emergent wetland
A type of wetland characterized by vegetation that is partly in water and partly exposed, such as plants that are rooted in water but whose upper parts are aerial or floating. Emergent wetland vegetation includes erect, rooted, herbaceous vegetation, such as sedges, rushes, and grasses.

Ethylene glycol antifreeze
Green-yellow, odorless, sweet-tasting chemical that poses a health risk to humans and animals if ingested.

Evaporation of water from plants, soil and other land surfaces.

Exotic (non-native) species
Plant or animal that does not naturally occur in a specific location or ecosystem. See non-native or invasive.


First flush
The first 1 to 1.5 inches of rainfall running off of impervious areas. This portion of stormwater runoff usually contains most of the pollutants.


Glacial Isostatic Adjustment (i.e., Glacial Rebound)
The Great Lakes basin is, in effect, tilting over time as the result of land rebounding after glaciers retreated about 10,000 years ago. The southwestern end of the basin is falling relative to the center of where the past glacier existed. This makes water levels in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for example, appear to be rising. At the same time, water levels in the northeastern portion of the basin (e.g., Georgian Bay, Ontario) appear to be dropping. This rebound accounts for about one foot of water level change (rising or dropping) in a person’s lifetime (Kahl and Stirratt, 2012; International Upper Great Lakes Study, 2009).

Grassed swales
Low-gradient conveyance channels planted with erosion-resistant vegetation. Water generally moves more slowly over grassed swales. They improve water quality by filtering out particulates, taking up nutrients, and promoting infiltration. Grassed swales are not practical on very flat land, on steep slopes, or in wet or poorly drained soils.

Wastewater drained from sinks, tubs, showers, dishwashers, clothes washers, and other non-toilet sources (Source: EPA). Graywater may be reused onsite, typically for landscape irrigation. If reusing graywater for irrigation, ensure that only non-toxic and low-sodium soap and personal care products are used to protect vegetation. (Source: EPA Region 9: Water Recycling and Reuse).

Undeveloped sites.


Hazard Mitigation Plan
Plans that identify policies and actions that can be implemented over the long term to reduce risk and future losses. (Source: FEMA)


Injurious wildlife
Mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and their offspring or gametes that are injurious to the interests of human beings, agriculture, horticulture, forestry, wildlife, or wildlife resources of the United States. 

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
An effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment. (Source: US EPA)

Invasive species
Any species or other viable biological material (including its seeds, eggs, or spores) that have become established in an ecosystem beyond its historic range that causes economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.


Low Impact Development (LID)
A cornerstone of stormwater management with goal of mimicking a site’s predevelopment hydrology by using design techniques that infiltrate, filter, store, evaporate, and detain runoff close to its source. Because LID uses a variety of useful techniques for controlling runoff, designs can be customized according to local regulatory and resource protection requirements, as well as site constraints. (Source: Low Impact Development Manual for Michigan)


Marine Sanitation Device (MSD)
For purposes of the Clean Water Act, a marine sanitation device is “any equipment for installation on board a vessel which is designed to receive, retain, treat, or discharge sewage, and any process to treat such sewage.” (Source: EPA, 33 U.S.C. 1322(a)(5)). There are three different types of marine sanitation devices (MSDs) that can be certified by the U.S. Coast Guard to meet federal regulations (33 CFR Part 159), each having its own design, certification, and discharge criteria.

  • TYPE I: A flow-through discharge device that produces effluent having a fecal coliform bacteria count not greater than 1,000 per 100 milliliters and no visible floating solids.  This type of device is typically a physical/chemical based system that relies on maceration (process of reducing waste to slurry) and chlorination.  Type I MSDs are issued a Certificate of Approval. (Illegal in no discharge zones.)
  • TYPE II: A flow-through discharge device that produces effluent having a fecal coliform bacteria count not greater than 200 per 100 milliliters and suspended solids not greater than 150 milligrams per liter. This type of device is typically a biological or aerobic digestion based system. (Illegal in no discharge zones.)
  • TYPE III: A device that prevents the overboard discharge of treated or untreated sewage or any waste derived from sewage. This type of device is typically a holding tank and may include other types of technology including incineration, recirculation, and composting.

Material safety data sheets (MSDS)
Informational fact sheets intended to provide workers and emergency personnel with procedures for handling or working with that substance in a safe manner. They includes information such as physical data, toxicity, health effects, first aid, reactivity, storage, disposal, protective equipment, and spill-handling procedures. MSDS formats can vary from source to source within a country depending on national requirements.

Mitigation (wetland)
Wetland mitigation is compensation through wetland restoration, enhancement or creation for functions and values that are lost on a converted wetland. (Source: USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service)


National Invasive Species Act (NISA)
Law that mandates regulations to prevent introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species into Great Lakes through ballast water.

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)
A national program under Section 402 of the Clean Water Act for regulation of discharges of pollutants from point sources to waters of the United States. Discharges are illegal unless authorized by an NPDES permit. (Source: EPA). For more information see Federal Laws section of this Classroom.

No Discharge Zone (NDZ)
A no discharge zone (NDZ) is an area in which both treated and untreated sewage discharges from vessels are prohibited. Within NDZ boundaries, vessel operators are required to retain their sewage discharges onboard for disposal at sea (beyond three miles from shore) or onshore at a pump-out facility. 

Nonindigenous (non-native) species
Species that are living outside of the area where they evolved.

Non-native species
Plant or animal that does not naturally occur in a specific location or ecosystem.

Nonstructural BMPs
Best management practices often aiming for prevention (versus mitigation) of an unwanted outcome. Nonstructural BMPs encompass broad planning and design approaches that may apply to an entire community (e.g., wetland ordinance). Best management practices are often divided into two categories: nonstructural and structural. Also see Structural BMPs.


A local ordinance is a law usually found in a code of laws for a political division smaller than a state or nation, such as a municipality, county, or township. (Source: Black’s Law Dictionary, 9th Ed. 2009)


Large wood, steel or concrete vertical support structure to support a dock or pier above the water.

Propagation (fish)
A description of how fish reproduce (yield offspring). Some fish lay eggs, some give birth to live babies, etc.

Propylene glycol antifreeze
Pink antifreeze considered less toxic than green-yellow ethylene glycol. Recommended for use by Clean Marina programs.


Rain gardens
Also known as bioretention areas (and sometimes constructed wetalands), rain gardens are low-lying areas designed to absorb and filter stormwater naturally. They are built with specific layers of soil, sand, and organic mulch that filter the rain as it enters, while the soil absorbs and stores rainwater to nourish the surrounding grasses, trees, and flowers. Rain gardens have the added advantage of being attractive areas that can provide shade and wildlife habitat, act as wind breaks, and reduce noise from surrounding areas.

Riparian buffer
A riparian buffer is a permanent restoration area of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous vegetation adjacent to a waterbody that serves to protect water quality and provide critical wildlife habitat. A riparian buffer can be designed to intercept surface runoff and subsurface flow from upland sources for the purpose of removing or buffering the effects of associated nutrients, sediment, organic matter, pesticides, or other pollutants prior to entry into surface waters. A full riparian buffer may not be possible at your facility; also consider a vegetated filter strip.


Sea lamprey
Aquatic vertebrates native to the Atlantic Ocean. Sea lampreys resemble eels, but unlike eels, they feed on large fish. They can live in both salt and fresh water. Sea lampreys were accidentally introduced into the Great Lakes in the early 20th century through shipping canals. Today, sea lampreys are found in all the Great Lakes. (Source: Great Lakes Fishery Commission)

Over the past thirty years, the U.S. and Canadian governments have collectively spent millions of dollars to control sea lamprey impacts on the region’s multi-million dollar commercial and recreation fishery resources. (Source: Protect Your Waters)

The settling of soil particles through the water column. Sedimentation may bury bottom dwelling organisms, block sunlight, reduce the feeding efficiency of visual feeders, clog fish gills, cause shoaling, and lead to additional dredging costs.

Creation of a sandy elevation of the bottom of a body of water, constituting a hazard to navigation; a sandbank or sandbar.

Soft engineering
The use of ecological principles and practices to reduce erosion and achieve the stabilization and safety of shorelines, while enhancing habitat, improving aesthetics and saving money. Source: Greater Detroit American Heritage River Initiative, 2000

Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code
SIC codes, prepared by the Federal Office of Management and Budget, describe the primary industrial activity at a facility. The federally regulated SIC code list can be viewed at: Occupational Safety and Health Administration SIC Manuel (US Department of Labor). Also see North American Industry Classification System.

State Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plans (SMP)
Comprehensive management plans prepared and submitted by the Governor to the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force. The plans:

  • Identify areas or activities for which technical, enforcement, or financial assistance is needed to eliminate or reduce the environmental, public health, and safety risks associated with aquatic nuisance species
  • Identify the management practices and measures that will be undertaken to reduce infestations of aquatic nuisance species

Structural BMPs
Best management practices serving to mitigate an impact that has already occurred. Structural BMPs are more location-specific and explicit in their physical form. Best management practices are often divided into two categories: nonstructural and structural. Also see: Nonstructural BMPs.


Timber crib
A “crib” structure is a framework of large timbers commonly filled with rocks.


Universal waste
As defined by the EPA, universal waste comes primarily from consumer products containing mercury, lead, cadmium and other substances that are hazardous to human health and the environment. Universal waste cannot be discarded in household trash nor landfills. Examples of universal waste are batteries, fluorescent tubes, and many electronic devices.


Vegetated buffer
See: Vegetated filter strip.

Vegetated filter strip
An area or strip of land in permanent undisturbed vegetation adjacent to a water body or other resource that is designed to protect resources from adjacent development during construction and after development by filtering pollutants in runoff, protecting water quality and temperature, providing wildlife habitat, screening structures and enhancing aesthetics, and providing access for recreation.


Wetland fringe (fringe wetlands)
A type of wetland identified by its occurrence within the banks of a river or stream or along the shores of a pond, lake, or island, or behind a barrier beach or island.

Wave attenuators
A structural system that can be installed at a marina to absorb or redirect wave energy. Common wave attenuation systems include box, pontoon, tethered float, mat or floating island systems. 

For regulatory purposes under the Clean Water Act, the term wetlands means “those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs and similar areas.” (Source: EPA Wetlands)


The legislative division of a region, especially a municipality, into separate districts with different regulations within the districts for land use, building size, and the like. (Source: NOAA Smart Growth for Coastal & Waterfront Communities via Sustainable Working Waterfronts Toolkit)