The Great Lakes have suffered from major pollution problems for many years as once thought water could dissolve anything put into. Obsessively that was proven pretty wrong. As we had river catch on fire from being so polluted.
Why is it so Important that we pay attention to the Great Lakes?
The Great Lakes is one of the biggest fresh water source in the world. “One-fifth of the world’s fresh surface water (only the polar ice caps and Lake Baikal in Siberia contain more); 95 percent of the US supply” (Source #1 Great Lakes Facts and Figures). The great lakes being the major source for america from fishing to shipping goods to water we drink. The Great lakes are a major benefit to the US and if they became non usable it will be major lose to the US economy and people. “Today roughly one-quarter of Canada’s population and a 10th of America’s population drink from the Great Lakes Basin” (Walker Source #2). This water is very important to both Canada and the US and pollution threatens the lose of the ability to lose it and adverting to knew water source to make up for the lost water would be expensive.
What has caused the pollution in the Great Lakes?
A lot of issues that have affected the Great Lakes start in the 18th and 19th century. “Under the belief that water could dilute any substance, industries and individuals during the 18th and 19th centuries often used rivers and lakes as garbage cans. Industrial effluent, raw sewage and animal carcasses would often be dumped into water ways” (Source 3). Though this thinking has caused major damages to the great lakes and were carried out until the mid 1900’s. This lead to many rivers surrounding the lakes to also becoming polluted. These have ways have caused major pollution stress on the lakes. (Picture From Nick Walker, Source 2)
This picture shows the stress on the Great Lakes. The lakes with more Urban areas around it are way more stressed then others and Lake Superior having really no big urban place around it and having very little stress on it. At the worst point of pollution of the great one of the lakes was called dead. “Lake Erie was even pronounced ‘dead’ for a time during the 1960s because of an overload of phosphorus from municipal waste” (Walker, Source 2). This is pretty huge problem if one of the Great Lakes is so polluted is so bad that it was called dead for a period of time.
“In June of 1969, the day that the Cuyahoga River, flowing though Cleveland, Ohio, on its way to Lake Erie, caught on fire because it was so polluted” (Source 3). This event caught the eye of the nation and promoted to new laws being formed to protect the great lakes. Which lead to the Clean water act that lead to regulations on quality and restriction on what could be but into water in the US.
#1 Great Lakes Facts and Figures, http://www.great-lakes.net/lakes/ref/lakefact.html
Nick Walker, Pollution in the Great Lakes, https://www.canadiangeographic.ca/article/pollution-great-lakes
By Kyle Brooks