Quiz: Test Your Great Lakes Water Smarts
Posted June 2, 2004
MADISON, Wis.--The Great Lakes are one of the natural
wonders of the world. In a 2002 survey of 1,540 adults
living in the eight Great Lakes states (commissioned by
The Joyce Foundation and The Biodiversity Project) 94
percent believe each of us has a personal responsibility
to protect the Great Lakes. They are a place Wisconsinites
call home and a resource for us to use and protect because
they are the heart of the ecosystems we rely on for life.
Additionally, they are a gift whose beauty and bounty
enrich our lives and identify our region.
Given all these wonderful and accurate sentiments, why
is it that so many of us don't truly understand the vulnerability
of the Great Lakes? The following quiz was developed by
Clean Wisconsin, an environmental advocacy organization,
to test Wisconsinite's Great Lakes water smarts and help
residents become more informed about current issues facing
the Great Lakes region.
True or False:
Great Lakes water supplies are not affected by off shore
communities drawing water from underground (or groundwater)
False. Groundwater resources are directly connected to
the Great Lakes. According to the United States Geological
Survey, approximately 35 percent of the water feeding
Lake Michigan originates from groundwater that flows into
rivers and streams. (1)
Great Lakes lake levels need to drop four inches or more
before the lower level adversely affects the shipping
False. Each year, Wisconsin's 12 active harbors on Lakes
Michigan and Superior handle a total of more than 40 million
tons (40 billion kilograms) of commodities valued at more
than $7 billion. According to the United States Great
Lakes Shipping Association, every inch of lost clearance
from low water levels can cost shipping vessels $11,000
per day because of reduced cargo carrying capacity.
There is a regional, comprehensive law that prohibits
a commercial entity or specific community from drawing
more than "their fair share" of water from the
Great Lakes and its surrounding groundwater resources.
False. Although the "Great Lakes Governors and Canadian
Premiers have followed a set of principles which guide
them in developing, maintaining and strengthening the
regional management regime for the Great Lakes ecosystem,"
(2) there is currently no regional, comprehensive law
that places limits on commercial or municipal interests.
There are those selling Great Lakes water for profit,
like oil or lumber. And the region is using Great Lakes
groundwater faster than nature can replenish it. Because
there is no regional law monitoring usage and protecting
reserves, many communities like Waukesha, are drying up
their reserves and needing to look elsewhere for supply.
There is a formal procedure underway to pass legislation
that would help protect the Great Lakes and surrounding
communities and ecosystem.
True. Wisconsin's Governor Doyle and other Great Lakes
States Governors and Canadian Premiers have formed a council
and are currently deciding how to wisely use, not abuse,
this vital resource. In the weeks and months ahead, you
will see references to the Great Lakes "Annex".
This is an agreement signed by the Great Lakes Governors
and Premiers to write a supply standard based on the environmental
protections in the Great Lakes Charter. In 1986, the Great
Lakes Charter set forth principles to guide the council
to protect, conserve, restore and improve the Great Lakes.
And although there has been significant progress since
1986, the Great Lakes Basin is still at risk from pollution,
unregulated diversion and environmental abuse.
There's nothing I can do to help protect the Great Lakes.
False. In the immediate future you can:
Call Governor Doyle now (608.266.1212) and ask him to:
-- Hold multiple, statewide hearings to discuss the draft
agreement between the Governors. Public participation
is essential to this process.
-- Ensure that the agreement between the Governors and
Premiers provides the ecosystem protections and improvements
called for by the Great Lakes Charter Annex.
Attend a hearing and comment on the draft agreement.
Check out Clean Wisconsin's website (www.cleanwisconsin.org)
to find out more about the draft, hearing dates and locations.
Make your voice heard on behalf of the Great Lakes. Ask
for the items listed above.
Write your legislators. Check Clean Wisconsin's website
to stay tuned to the legislation drafting process. Once
the legislation is drafted (currently slated to be announced
on June 18th) there will be a very important citizen comment
period lasting 90 days, during which time it is important
to contact your legislators and voice your opinion. Find
out how to contact your legislators by calling 1.800.362.9472
or go to www.legis.state.wi.us.
In Wisconsin, Clean Wisconsin is the main environmental
group working with the Great Lakes Council to achieve
an "enhanced water management system that is simple,
durable, efficient, retains and respects authority within
the basin, and most importantly protects, conserves, restores
and improves the Waters and Water-Dependent Natural Resources
of the Great Lakes Basin." (3) Stay tuned to Clean
Wisconsin's website for the latest updates in the Annex
We all have a responsibility to protect and conserve
the lakes, not for a single interest, but for our families,
for wildlife and for the future. We cannot wait for a
disaster to happen. We can all take steps now to help
keep the lakes healthy forever.
Clean Wisconsin, an environmental advocacy organization
founded as Wisconsin's Environmental Decade, protects
Wisconsin's clean water and air and advocates for clean
energy by being an effective voice in the state legislature
and by holding elected officials and corporations accountable.
Phone: 608.251.7020, Fax: 608.251.1655, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org,
Editors: A full press kit and hi-res infographic is available
at www.cleanwisconsin.org in the press room. Smallest
reproduction size of infographic is approx. 7.25 inches
wide by 4.5 inches tall.
(2)The Great Lakes Charter Annex: A supplementary Agreement
to the Great Lakes Charter, June 18, 2001.
(3)The Great Lakes Charter Annex: A supplementary Agreement
to the Great Lakes Charter, June 18, 2001.