Great Lakes Restoration and Protection
The Council of Great Lakes Governors has established nine priorities to guide the restoration and protection of the largest single source of fresh water in the world, the Great Lakes:
• Ensure the sustainable use of our water resources while confirming that the States retain authority over water use and diversions of Great Lakes waters.
• Promote programs to protect human health against adverse effects of pollution in the Great Lakes ecosystem.
• Control pollution from diffuse sources into water, land and air.
• Continue to reduce the introduction of persistent bioaccumulative toxics into the Great Lakes ecosystem.
• Stop the introduction and spread of non-native aquatic invasive species.
• Enhance fish and wildlife by restoring and protecting coastal wetlands, fish and wildlife habitats.
• Restore to environmental health the Areas of Concern identified by the International Joint Commission as needing remediation.
• Standardize and enhance the methods by which information is collected, recorded and shared within the region.
• Adopt sustainable use practices that protect environmental resources and may enhance the recreational and commercial value of our Great Lakes.
In partnership with The Great Lakes Commission and the The National Sea Grant Program, a series of workshops were held across the region to discuss how the Governors' Priorities could be implemented.
The Governors partnered with members of Congress, the Administration, Mayors, Tribal leaders and non-governmental participants to develop a comprehensive restoration and protection strategy for the Great Lakes through the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration, using the Governors’ priorities as their organizing principle. The final strategy was released on December 12, 2005 in Chicago.
Earlier in the day, the Council Co-Chairs sent a letter to the President with a list of near-term action items that, if implemented, could substantially improve our long-term ability to protect and restore the Great Lakes. This list was developed by our region’s Governors and Mayors in consultation with members of the Great Lakes Congressional Task Force and representatives of Great Lakes Tribes.
As a comprehensive strategy is implemented, the Governors will continue to provide regional leadership in protecting and restoring the Great Lakes. Below, we’ve listed two examples of how we are advancing our priorities for Great Lakes restoration and protection:
Water Management - Our waters are more threatened today than perhaps they have ever been. The Council has formed an alliance with the Premiers of Ontario and Québec to protect the Great Lakes and ensure the water remains at safe levels for future generations.
Non-native aquatic invasive species - Exotic species like the zebra mussel and sea lamprey have invaded our Great Lakes and pose a real danger. The damage they cause each year is enormous, threatening the livelihood of residents, businesses and native species. The Council is administering a program to control and eliminate these species from the Great Lakes.