The Future of the Great Lakes

Shahla Werner, Director of the Sierra Club, John Muir Chapter in Wisconsin
Caryl Terrell, Environmental activist

Study Materials (Click here for a copy of the materials mailed to members. Includes the first linked items and Discussion Questions, but not the Helpful Website Links).

League Great Lakes Ecosystem position (adopted in 2013 by 60 local and state Leagues throughout the Great Lakes region):
The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network supports preserving and enhancing the environmental integrity and quality of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Ecosystem. We support the attainment and maintenance of high water quality standards throughout the Great Lakes Basin with emphasis on water pollution prevention. Water conservation should be a high priority of all governments in the Basin. 

  • Protective measures
  • Threats to the ecosystem
  • Public participation
  • Research priorities

Please read the full position here

Overview of Lake Michigan LWV and how they advocate for the Great Lakes on behalf of LWV and through their membership in the Healing Our Waters Coalition.

Proposed Water Position for consideration at the May 31, 2014 Wisconsin League Convention in Appleton.

April 2013 LWVWI Water statement using state and National League positions.

Sierra Club Great Lakes Program: Overview
The Great Lakes hold one fifth of the world's fresh surface water supply and currently provide drinking water to over 42 million people. Yet each day, our Lakes are damaged economically and ecologically by untreated sewage, industrial pollutants, habitat loss and invasive species. Climate change will only make these problems worse. Unless we invest in a solution today, the price we pay tomorrow will be much higher and future generations may never experience the Lakes as we know them.

Fortunately, there are solutions to these problems. But we must act now.

Federal and state governments should implement the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy, a comprehensive plan to restore and protect the Great Lakes. By implementing this plan, we will increase the resiliency and functioning of the Great Lakes ecosystem, protecting our communities and our environment from the worst impacts of global warming. In addition, we will address many of the problems that affect our use and enjoyment of the Great Lakes.

Unit Discussion Questions:

1. There are many major challenges to a healthy Great Lakes ecosystem.

a. Which three threats to the Great Lakes especially concern you and why?

b. What are the best ways that we can use League structure and resources to educate our members on the importance of these issues?

2. The League has positioned itself to be a leader on Great Lakes issues.

a. Do you have comments and additions to the Great Lakes Ecosystem position?

b. Are you available to use these new positions to write Letters to the Editor or read League statements at public meetings?

3. LWVWI is proposing to update its Water Position.

a. In what ways can the State of Wisconsin be taking a proactive approach to whole-system water management and protection?

b. Do you have comments and additions to suggest to the LWVDC Convention delegates?

Helpful Website Links:

Please read the items marked ** and skim other documents that are of interest to you.

Map of Great Lakes with watershed of each lake

Background on Priority Issues covered by the 2013 Great Lakes Ecosystem position:

** Activist Toolkit for the Great Lakes by the Sierra Club Great Lakes Program  (20 pages)

• Invasive Species p.2-3; Coastal Health and Polluted Runoff p. 4-5; Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy p. 6; Toxic Pollution p. 7-9; Habitat Loss p. 10-11; Keeping GL Water in the Basin p. 12-14; How To Get Involved p. 15-16

** Green Infrastructure – A Strategy for Restoring the Great Lakes and Great Communities   (4 pages)

    Healthy Harbors, Restored Rivers (70 pages)

    Great Lakes Wind – The Potential Economic Impact of Offshore Wind Energy in the Great Lakes (4 pages)

Who is Working on the Great Lakes? What is their Strategy?

• Non-Governmental Groups:

Sierra Club 
HEALING OUR WATERS – Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 120 environmental, conservation, and outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums.

• State of Wisconsin

DNR - Wisconsin's Great Lakes
DNR - Wisconsin's Great Lakes Strategy 

• United States of America

** President G.W. Bush’s Great Lakes Executive Order 13340 (3 pages)

• International

Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy 
Great Lakes Compact and Water Diversions Outside the Great Lakes Basin
      Institutional process for all Great Lakes jurisdictions to review water diversion proposals
      see 12/02/13 Clean Wisconsin statement on Waukesha Diversion application
** Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 2012
International Joint Commission