Show MoreOverview Pollution in the Great Lakes is a major problem. It affects both Canada and the U.S. and has been a problem for over 50 years. Both the Canadian and American governments have taken action against this, but the problem hasn’t gone away yet. This report will talk about pollution, and its toll on the Great Lakes. It will also talk about what we can do to slow down, and hopefully stop pollution in these lakes.
There are many issues that have to deal with pollution. Everything from algae to the supply of water we need to survive is affected by pollution. The Great Lakes makes up one fifth of the world’s fresh water and this one fifth is now being polluted. The destruction of the area and the increase in…show more content…
When urban and agricultural runoff occurs, the excess nutrients leach into the water, contaminating it.
The Government recently passed law dropping the number of protected waterways (rivers and lakes) in Canada from thousands to about 159. This means big companies can dump waste in rivers that flow to the Great Lakes, which as stated before, is a major reason for the dangerous pollution in the lakes. “Many governments, organizations, groups and individuals are contributing to the restoration and protection of the Great Lakes. Work is being done at the local, regional, lakewide and basinwide scales, and all of these efforts help to restore and protect the Great Lakes.” (Environment Canada, 2013). Though environment Canada says they are helping, it doesn’t seem that they are doing so to the best of their abilities, by passing a law of this kind.
Many chemicals people were using in the past have now been banned, but the damage from them has already been done. If they were not banned, however, the damage would be much worse. The conditions in the Great Lakes had been so bad at times that some species have gone extinct, many other species now endangered.
Overall, there are major problems with pollution in the lakes that need to be dealt with soon, or conditions will just keep getting worse and worse, and this will not be good for anyone.
Why care about pollution and what it
Map: Chris Brackley/Canadian Geographic
It’s no secret that the Great Lakes are suffering tremendous ecological strain — Lake Erie was even pronounced “dead” for a time during the 1960s because of an overload of phosphorus from municipal waste. Back in 1615, though, when the entire region was pristine and explorers Samuel de Champlain and Étienne Brûlé gazed out together from Lake Huron’s shores, they dubbed it la mer douce, “the sweet sea.” Today roughly one-quarter of Canada’s population and a 10th of America’s population drink from the Great Lakes basin; the beleaguered lakes alone hold more than a fifth of Earth’s freshwater.
The Great Lakes Environmental Assessment and Mapping Project — a group of about 20 American and Canadian researchers and environmentalists — produced the data for this map, which illustrates the cumulative impacts of human activity across the Great Lakes. It speaks volumes at a glance. David Allan, team lead for GLEAM’s project and a professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment, hopes the map will help improve how we manage the Great Lakes.
For three years, GLEAM’s scientists analyzed, weighted, plotted and merged 34 environmental stressors, including various effects of residential, commercial and industrial development, crisscrossing shipping lanes, thriving invasive species (in many areas, zebra and quagga mussels are a more serious problem than pollution) and climate change.
“The red spots on this map are not all red for the same reasons,” says Allan. “Our goal is to help people understand that there are many complex combinations of stressors at play here and that they have a spatial pattern. We have to resist the temptation to say, ‘What’s the most important thing? Let’s fix that.’ ”
Five of the most significant stressors:
The damming of tributaries impedes the flow of water, nutrients and sediment to and between the Great Lakes, and threatens the diversity of native fish species by blocking routes between spawning, nursery and overwintering habitats. (Map: GLEAM)
Reduced ice cover
Ice cover on the Great Lakes has decreased by more than 71 per cent during the last 40 years. When ice cover melts earlier in the spring, water temperatures are likely to be higher throughout the year. (Map: GLEAM, see data credit #1)
Zebra and quagga mussels
These highly invasive species have colonized all five of the Great Lakes. Zebra mussels first appeared in Lake St. Clair (north of Lake Erie) in 1986, having come from the Black and Caspian seas, while Quagga mussels came to Lake Erie in 1989 from the Dneiper River drainage of Ukraine. (Map: GLEAM, see data credit #2)
High phosphorus levels in the Great Lakes, the result of agricultural and municipal runoff, propels eutrophication and the growth of nuisance algae. This can lead to hypoxia (oxygen depletion) and threatens numerous lake species. (Map: GLEAM)
PCBs in Great Lakes Sediments
PCBs haven't been manufactured and imported to North America since around 1980, but the effects of these highly toxic compounds — once used as coolants and insulating fluids in transformers, capacitors and electric motors — are still felt in the complex food web of the Great Lakes. (Map: GLEAM, see data credit #3)
Go to greatlakesmapping.org for information on all 34 lake stressors.
- Reduced ice cover
Ice cover on the Great Lakes has decreased by more than 71 per cent during the last 40 years. When ice cover melts earlier in the spring, water temperatures are likely to be higher throughout the year.
a. Wang, J., X. ai, H. Hu, A. Clites, M.Colton, and B. Lofgren. 2012: Temporal and Spatial Variability of Great Lakes Ice Cover, 1973–2010. J. Climate, 25, 1318–1329.
b. Assel, R., K. Cronk, and D. Norton. 2003. Recent trends in Laurentian Great Lakes ice cover. Climatic Change, 57(1-2):185-204.
- Zebra and quagga mussels
These highly invasive species have colonized all five of the Great Lakes. Zebra mussels first appeared in Lake St. Clair (north of Lake Erie) in 1986, having come from the Black and Caspian seas, while Quagga mussels came to Lake Erie in 1989 from the Dneiper River drainage of Ukraine.
Lake Superior: Data collected by US Environmental Protection Agency, provided by J. Scharold. Lake Huron: Nalepa, T.F., D.L. Fanslow, S.A. Pothoven, A.J. Foley III, G.A. Lang, S.C. Mozley, and M.W. Winnell. 2007. Abundance and distribution of benthic macroinvertebrate populations in Lake Huron in 1972 and 2000-2003. NOAA Technical Memorandum GLERL-140. Ann Arbor, Michigan. Lake Michigan: Nalepa, T.F., D.L. Fanslow, G.A. Lang, D.B. Lamarand, L.G. Cummins, and G.S. Carter. 2008. Abundance of the amphipod Diporeia and the mussels Dreissena polymorpha and Dreissena rostriformis bugensis in Lake Michigan in 1994-1995, 2000, and 2005. NOAA Technical Memorandum GLERL-144. Ann Arbor, Michigan. Lake Erie: Data collected through Lake Erie Collaborative Comprehensive Survey, provided by J. Ciborowski Lake Ontario: Watkins J.M., R. Dermott, S.J. Lozano, E.L. Mills, L.G. Rudstam, and J. Scharold. 2007. Evidence for remote effects of dreissenid mussels on the amphipod Diporeia: analysis of Lake Ontario benthic surveys, 1972-2003. Journal of Great Lakes Research 33(3):642-657.
- PCBs in Great Lakes Sediments
PCBs haven't been manufactured and imported to North America since around 1980, but the effects of these highly toxic compounds — once used as coolants and insulating fluids in transformers, capacitors and electric motors — are still felt in the complex food web of the Great Lakes.
a. Henny C..J, R.A. Grove, J.L. Kaiser, and B.L. Johnson. 2010. North American Osprey Populations and Contaminants: Historic and Contemporary Perspectives. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. Part B 13(7-8):579-603.
b. Canadian Environmental Law Association and University of Illinois-Chicago. 2001. Human health effects associated with PCB exposure. Report: Environmental Profile of PCBs in the Great Lakes. Online: http://www.uic.edu/sph/glakes/pcb/health_effects.htm. Accessed 09 February 2012.
c. Marvin, C., S. Painter, D. Williams, V. Richardson, R. Rossmann, and P. Van Hoof. 2004. Spatial and temporal trends in surface water and sediment contamination in the Laurentian Great Lakes. Environmental Pollution. 129:131-144.