The Great Lakes are a very important part of our ecosystem and much remains to be learned about them. Pollution and urban sprawl affect the health of the waterway, the species within it and eventually our health. Its important to preserve the future of the Great Lakes so we can continue to use them as a resource.
The Future of the Great Lakes
wetland
After World War II, people started moving from the cities into the countryside. The GI Bill, road building projects, and increased car manufacturing all contributed greatly to this shift, and living in "suburbia" signified a better quality of life.
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Water pollution sign
Water pollution affects the health of the waterway, the health of the organisms living in and around the waterway, and, eventually, the health of humans. The effects of water pollution can range from aquatic deformities to contaminated fish to "dead" lakes.
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farm land
States and communities are beginning to realize the effects of sprawl, and many are in the early stages of developing and implementing plans to curb it. The city of Portland, Oregon, is one of the best examples of efficient land-use planning in the United States.
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Panorama with canoes of downtown Toronto
The Great Lakes—Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario—and their connecting channels form the largest fresh surface water system on Earth. If you stood on the moon, you could see the lakes and recognize the familiar wolf head shape or the mitten bounded by lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie.
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Steam plume released at steel factory near water in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Under the belief that water could dilute any substance, industries and individuals during the 18th and 19th centuries often used rivers and lakes as garbage cans. Industrial effluent, raw sewage and animal carcasses would often be dumped into waterways, without much thought of contamination and downstream neighbors.
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Great Lakes at a Glance

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