November 01, 2016

Protecting the Integrity of the Great Lakes: Past, Present, and Future

Carolyn S. Boyce

Lakes Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario, and Superior comprise the five Great Lakes. Together, they hold six quadrillion gallons of water, representing 20 percent of the world’s aboveground freshwater supply and an overwhelming 95 percent of the United States’ water sources. Great Lakes Information Network Facts and Figures, available at www.great-lakes.net/lakes/ref/lakefact.html. Spanning a landmass of 94,000 square miles, the lakes border two countries, eight states, and two provinces (the United States, Canada, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ontario, and Quebec). The Great Lakes watershed is home to 40 million people and is the natural habitat for approximately 3,500 native species of plants and animals. The waters have the capacity to generate 670,000 megawatts of energy, and to produce $34.6 billion in economic activity from cargo shipments alone. Center for Water Policy, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Climate Change Impacts on Energy in the Great Lakes Basin, available at http://uwm.edu/centerforwaterpolicy/wp-content/uploads/sites/170/2013/10/Wingspread_Energy_Final.pdf (last visited Aug. 15, 2016). See also The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, The Economic Impacts of the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence Seaway System (2016), available at www.greatlakes-seaway.com/en/seaway/facts/eco_impact.html.

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