Healthy Rivers mean Healthy Lakes at Great Lakes Day

Some of you may have seen some of my tweets or one of the American Rivers retweets sent during the initial meetings of this years Great Lakes day [PDF] hosted by the Healing Our Waters coalition, of which we’re a proud member.

Members of the coalition are coming into Washington D.C. from around the Great Lakes to meet with their members of Congress to talk about a number of different issues around the Great Lakes, including trying to get the Stop Asian Carp Act passed, and talking about the restoration successes on the Lakes [PDF].

But throughout my work in the Great Lakes region, I get asked the same question: “Lakes? I thought you worked on rivers?” I do work on rivers, and specifically on protecting clean water for rivers and communities. And that’s how the Great Lakes and rivers tie together.

Most of the major cities in the Great Lakes are on a river that flows into the Lakes. Our Milwaukee office sits near the Milwaukee river and our Toledo office sits near the Maumee River, two of the larger river systems in the Great Lakes (the Maumee being the largest). Many of these Great Lakes cities have massive amounts of stormwater pollution combined with severe sewage overflow problems.

These pollutants flow into thow Great Lakes rivers and into the Great Lakes themselves, causing fish kills and beach closures. That’s why we’re working so hard to stop storwater pollution, protect clean water in these areas, promote green infrastructure and demonstrate the economic benefits of using it.

Additionally, the most likely entryway of the destructive Asian Carp into the Great Lakes is through the Chicago River (which has been engineered to connect the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan, and also has some significant clean water problems itself).

No matter how you look at it, protecting and restoring rivers is essential to protecting and restoring the Great Lakes. And I can’t be more excited to be part of such a fantastic group of Great Lakes advocates participating in Great Lakes day.