A Threatened Resource

The Great Lakes contain 20 percent of the world's surface freshwater, supply drinking water to 42 million people, and play a critical role in the region's economy. This rich resource, however, is threatened by urban sprawl and pollution, causing:

  • Degraded urban streams and watersheds,
  • Decreased water quality from the nutrients, oils, and metals running off developed land,
  • Altered stream hydrology,
  • Eroded river and stream banks, and
  • Increased stream water temperature.

These growing problems have spurred regional governments and organizations to take action to restore and protect the Great Lakes - and revitalize the region's economy. The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy, developed by the Great Lakes governors and congressional delegations, calls for, among other things, limiting the effects of stormwater pollution through stormwater management and wetland restoration. The Strategy emphasizes sustainable development and natural landscaping and calls for funding to support educational efforts that promote sustainability.