Remember the Great Lakes on World
Winter Scene Chantry Island
World Water Day is celebrated each year on March 22. This day
was designated World Water Day in 1992 at the United Nations Conference
on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro to raise awareness
about the importance of preserving global water resources. Since then
communities around the world participate in highlighting water struggles
and the need for clean, accessible, public water for everyone.
We around the Great Lakes take water for granted. We live beside a
reservoir holding 20% of the worlds fresh water. Were not threatened by
a lack of water that hundreds of millions of people around the world
are. Yet, for the disproportional wealth of water that we have this
region, we have treated the Great Lakes as our personal toilet. We
continue to have postings warning people not to swim in polluted
nearshore waters, advisories on eating fish caught from the Great Lakes,
reports of new toxins entering the Great Lakes, and on it goes.
- Just 3 percent of the world's water exists as fresh water - 2
percent is locked in the polar ice caps; less than 1 percent resides
in freshwater lakes and streams.
- The Great Lakes contain an estimated 22,700 cubic kilometers of
water - a fifth of all the liquid surface fresh water on Earth.
- Great Lakes beaches are posted to protect swimmers from
waterborne pathogens. These potentially dangerous microorganisms
make their way into the Great Lakes from overloaded municipal sewage
plants, from wildlife and polluted runoff from residences, yards,
streets and farms.
- All of the Great Lakes and their connecting channels are
currently under fish consumption advisories for one or more toxic
chemicals. In 2002, mercury, PCBs, dioxins or chlordane were at
least partly responsible for 96 percent of fish consumption
advisories, while 75 percent were issued in part due to mercury
- Air pollution is responsible for over 90 percent of mercury
contamination in the Great Lakes, largely from coal-fired power
Here are a few Water Facts
about the Great Lakes
- On average, it takes a drop of water 191 years to cycle through
Lake Superior (e.g. from entering as a drop of rain and exiting to
Lake Huron via the St. Marys' River). Lake Michigan's retention time
is 99 years, while Lake Huron's is 22 years.
- There are over 190 non-indigenous species of fish and sea
creatures that live in the Great Lakes. While some of this sea life
has resided in our waters since the early 1900s, most has appeared
in the last 25 years. A new species appears in the lakes every six
- More than two-thirds of Great Lakes fish species spawn in
wetlands, and many rely on near shore vegetation for food and
shelter. Wide-spread alteration and destruction of these habitats --
including 75% of Great Lakes shoreline and 2/3 of the region's
wetlands -- harms native fish.
For more information:
World Water Day is a good day to pause and reflect on how magnificent
the Great Lakes really are, and that we have a moral obligation to
protect them. World Water Day is a good day to pledge to become engaged
in efforts to ensure that we pass on a legacy of clean Great Lakes water
to our children.
For more information on Lake Huron's environment, contact the Coastal
Centre at (519) 523-4478.
Geoff Peach, Hons. B.A., CCEP
Coastal Resources Manager
The Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation
P.O. Box 178
Blyth, Ontario, Canada
Phone: (519) 523-4478
Fax: (519) 523-4929
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