April 25, 2014

New challenges for Great Lakes water

A new report sheds light on Great Lakes contamination. “The sources today are more pernicious, and they’re harder to see,” said Joel Brammier, President and CEO with the Alliance for the Great Lakes, who noted that we’ve done a great job eliminating “point source” pollution from locations such as factories. “Pollutants get into the Great Lakes from all different sorts of places, like pharmaceutical byproducts, herbicides and pesticides, and plastics. And those sources are much harder to get a handle on. Their byproducts.

Brammier said finding ways to prioritize and prevent that contamination is the next great challenge for Great Lakes freshwater, which millions of people rely on for drinking and recreation. The new report shows that since production of synthetic chemicals took off after World War II, the waters of Lake Michigan have yet to see a complete turnover. “In Lakes Michigan and Huron it takes about a century for water to turn over,” said Brammier. “What that means is that pollution doesn’t disappear. It hangs around for many generations.”