With so much doom and gloom on the environmental front it is occasionally worth noting an area where some progress is being made. Fifty years ago, the United States and Canada first signed the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement in an effort to clean up the Great Lakes which had been degraded due to industrial and agricultural contamination. This week, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and Environment and Climate Change Canada have jointly published the State of the Great Lakes 2022 Report, and while it identifies a number of areas of concern the overall trend is towards improvement.
“Over the past 50 years, the United States and Canada have made tremendous progress working together to protect the Great Lakes and support a thriving regional economy. We remain committed to safeguarding this shared treasure for present and future generations,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan.
Lake Superior’s forested watershed and coastal wetlands help maintain water quality and a healthy aquatic ecosystem – Lake Superior is assessed as Good and Unchanging.
Lake Huron remains healthy despite nearshore algal blooms and a reduction in offshore nutrients by invasive filter-feeding mussels – Lake Huron is assessed as Good and Unchanging.
Lake Ontario shows improvements with fewer beach closings and declines in contaminant concentrations in fish – Lake Ontario is assessed as Fair and Unchanging to Improving.
Lake Michigan’s habitats support a diverse array of plant and animal species and its waters continue to provide opportunities for swimming and recreational use. However, invasive species and other stressors continue to affect both water quality and the lake’s food web – Lake Michigan is assessed as Fair and Unchanging.
Lake Erie supports a productive Walleye fishery, but elevated nutrient concentrations and algal blooms are persistent problems – Lake Erie is assessed as Poor and Unchanging.