Five massive bodies of water in the northern U.S. and southern Canada make up the Great Lakes. People frequently use the lakes for fishing, shipping, and recreation. Unfortunately, in the Great Lakes, pollution has long been a serious problem; from both marine and land-based sources.
HISTORY OF GREAT LAKES POLLUTION
Dioxin began to kill off lake trout in the region as early as the 1930s. Wastewater and fertilizers released substantial amounts of phosphorus into the lakes in the 1960s. Especially large quantities of untreated waste were poured into Lake Erie. PCBs and DDT pesticide contributed to water pollution in subsequent decades. Canada and the U.S. signed two major agreements during the 1970s which helped mitigate these problems, but only to some extent.
GREAT LAKES POLLUTION TODAY
The environment of the Great Lakes has seen a few improvements in recent years, but overall conditions remain poor in numerous areas. Many U.S. companies in Ohio (including a coal power plant) are trying to gain exceptions to the limit on mercury discharges in Lake Erie. In early 2010, Canadian environmentalist organizations urged the government to improve environmental regulations, saying that industrial waste was still being released into the water.
The U.S. and Canadian governments have established 43 “Areas of Concern” in the Great Lakes, including Wheatley Harbour, Buffalo River, Milwaukee Estuary, Thunder Bay, and Eighteen Mile Creek, among others. Contaminated sediments pose a major pollution issue in numerous “Areas of Concern”. The 2010 budget for the Environmental Protection Agency provides $475,000,000 in funding to help improve the Great Lakes environment and eliminate invasive species.
CONSEQUENCES OF WATER POLLUTION
People have to avoid regularly eating the fish from these lakes due to their contamination, and many species have declined. Pollution contributed to the failure of the commercial fishing industry in the Great Lakes. The contaminants also affect birds that consume seafood from the area. Pollutants can produce many types of health problems in humans and cause the eventual extinction of animal species. The disruptions of nature’s balance and the loss of one species, creates inevitable harm to other species and environmental conditions.
STEPS TO REDUCE POLLUTION
A single person cannot stop this from happening, but every individual can certainly make a difference. Everyone contributes to pollution; we can’t honestly expect government regulators or environmentalists to solve all of these problems, for us, without our cooperation. If you live near the Great Lakes or boat on them, there are some steps you can take to help minimize the Great Lakes pollution problem…
- Conserve electricity and drive less to reduce air pollution. If you have a motorized boat, consider using an emission-reducing fuel additive.
- Remove any trash or fishing supplies you find on beaches or near the water. Complain if the garbage cans at a lakeside business or park are always full, or overflowing.
- If you own a marina, take the necessary measures to become certified as a Clean Marina. Such marinas reduce water pollution and help boaters do the same.
- Sign petitions and write letters to businesses, politicians, and government agencies on water related environmental issues.
- Preventing Water Pollution
- Florida DEP Recycling Initiative
- Marine Recycling to Safeguard the Environment
- How to Calculate & Minimize your Boat Carbon Footprint
- June is National Oceans Month
Tags: environment, environmentalism, Great Lakes Pollution, lake erie, lake erie pollution, lake huron, lake huron pollution, lake michigan, lake michigan pollution, lake ontario, lake ontario pollution, lake superior, lake superior pollution