New Report Shows Invasive Species, Chemical Pollutants are Devastating Great Lakes

State of the Lakes Report Underscores Need for Congress, White House to Take Action to Restore Great Lakes--the Largest Surface Fresh-Water Resource in the World.

07-14-2009 // Jeff Alexander

The Great Lakes are being decimated by aquatic invasive species, are still affected by chemical contaminants and will face increasing sewage management challenges in a warming climate, according to a new report by U.S and Canadian authorities.

“State of the Great Lakes 2009,” released by the U.S. EPA and Environment Canada, finds the overall health of the Great Lakes ecosystem as “mixed”— meaning the lakes display both good and degraded features. Preventing toxic pollution has improved, for instance, while the cleanup of contaminated sites — so called Areas of Concern — remain a problem.

Foreign species wreaking havoc on ecosystems, fish and wildlife

Invasive species, according to the report, pose a dire threat to the lakes and the fish and wildlife the lakes support.

The invasive species situation was “poor” in 2009, meaning the ecosystem is “severely negatively impacted and it does not display even minimally acceptable conditions.” Further, the report labeled the threat of invasive species as “deteriorating.”

“Toxic pollution, invasive species and climate change threaten not only our health and quality of life, but the region’s economy,” said the National Wildlife Federation’s Jeff Skelding, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.

Federal restoration initiative would address threats facing the lakes

Skelding said Congress could advance Great Lakes restoration and economic recovery by fully funding President Obama’s $475 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

“The report is a warning,” Skelding said. “Unless we act now to restore the lakes, the problems will get worse and solutions will get more costly.” 


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