The Great Lakes Region, the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth, holds 95% of the United States’ surface fresh water. This region has more than 4,650 miles of shoreline and 30,000 islands. More than 30 million people live in the area.
The Great Lakes Basin provides drinking water, transportation, power, recreational activities, and over 1.5 million jobs. This precious resource has severely degraded over the years and is in need of immediate on-the-ground action.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has several priorities to improve habitat and water quality:
Long-term goals for the Great Lakes region:
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is working to protect and restore the Great Lakes.
Areas of Concern
Although significant process has been made in reducing sources of pollution over the last 30 years, several toxic substances are still above levels that are safe for humans and wildlife. High
levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have led to fish consumption advisories in all five Great Lakes.
Pollutants largely left over from past practices, referred to as “legacy contamination,” continue to circulate through the ecosystem. They have also led fish consumption advisories in the Great
Lakes. And newer chemicals, such as pharmaceuticals and flame retardants, are now being detected in Great Lakes waters and require immediate attention.
Some of the efforts underway include: