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Great Lakes

Establishing Strong Protections Against Aquatic Invasive Species

on Wed, 04/13/2011 - 01:22

The introduction and spread of non-native aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes poses serious risks to the region’s ecological and economic health. More than 180 non-native aquatic species have become established in the Great Lakes, causing economic losses estimated at $5.7 billion annually. Ecological conditions will only get worse if Asian carp become established in the Great Lakes watershed.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative: Strategically Targeting Critical Great Lakes Problems

on Wed, 04/13/2011 - 01:20

A variety of factors continue to impair the health of the Great Lakes and undermine the economic benefits they provide to the region. Fortunately, we have a plan in place to address these challenges. A coalition of more than 1,500 federal, state and local officials and interested stakeholders developed this restoration blueprint that established key goals and required actions for restoring and protecting the Great Lakes.

Improving Nearshore Health and Reducing Nonpoint Source Pollution

on Wed, 04/13/2011 - 01:18

Degraded water quality is a persistent problem in the nearshore zone – bacterial contamination closes beaches and threatens public health; sedimentation clogs harbors and damages fishery resources; and disease outbreaks threaten valuable wildlife. Nonpoint source pollution is the diffuse, intermittent runoff of pollutants from various sources, and it contributes significantly to the degradation of Great Lakes water quality, particularly in nearshore areas.

Improving Infrastructure for Commercial Navigation and Recreational Boating

on Wed, 04/13/2011 - 01:17

The Great Lakes constitute one of our nation’s major marine transportation systems and are a vital part of both our region’s and our nation’s economic infrastructure. Unfortunately, a combination of factors is reducing their economic viability, including reduced funding for dredging, lower water levels in the lakes, diminishing options for disposing of dredged material and an aging navigation infrastructure.

Protecting Water Quality through the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Revolving Funds

on Wed, 04/13/2011 - 01:15

Experts indicate that 25 percent of our water infrastructure is already beyond its useful life, leading to more frequent structural failures. Water and wastewater infrastructure is vital to our environment, public health and safety, and economy, yet these buried assets – and their deteriorating condition – are largely “out of sight, out of mind.”

Restoring and Protecting Valuable Fish and Wildlife Resources

on Wed, 04/13/2011 - 01:12

The loss and degradation of habitat in the Great Lakes region is an urgent concern. Terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems have been significantly altered due to human settlement, farming, development and other activities. The Great Lakes region has lost more than half of its original wetlands and 60 percent of its forest, and retains only small remnants of other habitat types such as savannah or prairies.

Stopping the Spread of Asian Carp: An Action Agenda for Congress

on Wed, 04/13/2011 - 01:10

The Great Lakes Commission calls on Congress and the Administration to take immediate action to keep Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes. While the regional response has been strong, additional resources and authorizations are needed to enable federal agencies to move aggressively to halt the spread of the carp. It is not too late to prevent this ecological and economic catastrophe!

Priorities for Great Lakes Restoration and Economic Revitalization

on Wed, 04/13/2011 - 01:08

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative targets science-based solutions to urgent problems facing the Great Lakes, like shutting the door on invasive species; cleaning up toxic sediments; stopping polluted runoff; preventing beach contamination; restoring degraded wetlands; and protecting fish and wildlife resources.

The Great Lakes Compact

on Wed, 04/13/2011 - 01:06

Just as even a large bank account can be depleted by overspending, the Great Lakes can be depleted if more water leaves than enters them. However, if the water “bank account” is kept in balance, the Great Lakes—and the diverse ecosystem and large regional economy they support—can be sustained. The Great Lakes Compact* is an unprecedented, multistate agreement aimed at protecting the Great Lakes from “overspending.”

Impacts on Water: Our Regions Vital Resource

on Wed, 04/13/2011 - 01:03

The Great Lakes basin contains 20 percent of Earth’s surface fresh water. A rapidly changing climate will alter water availability and quality, not only in the Great Lakes but also in the region’s groundwater and in the hundreds of thousands of smaller lakes, wetlands and streams that dot or flow across the area.