The Great Lakes
have been called “the nation’s fourth seacoast.” Indeed, the U.S.
Great Lakes shoreline is over 4,500 miles long, “longer
than the U.S. East and Gulf coasts combined” (Gulezian). The watershed includes 8 U.S. States: New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. The area is home to over 40
million people, as well as countless species of plants and animals (Gulezian). It
is a vital and irreplaceable ecosystem, both for its human economic benefits
and for the wealth of biodiversity it sustains. However, the Great Lakes watershed is facing heavy
threats today. Contaminants, pathogens, and invasive species are present
throughout. Habitat destruction due to urbanization and urban sprawl threaten
the health biodiversity in the region (Gulezian). Pollution caused by sewer
overflows and leaks from out-dated sewer systems is another serious problem;
also related to urbanization.
recent report conducted by the non-profit Environmental Integrity Project (EIP)
found that only six of the Great Lakes states “are home to 43 percent of
the nation’s 828 CSO communities” (EIP). In other words, 356 municipalities
within Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin are “being
inundated with billions of gallons of raw human waste and other untreated
sewage that cities and towns should be cleaning up under eight-year-old Clean
Water Act rules” (EIP).
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