Protecting and Restoring the Great Lakes

Protecting our Great Lakes: The Great Lakes are a national treasure.  They contain 20% of the earth’s fresh surface water and are the drinking water source for more than 40 million people. As a leading member of the Healing Our Waters coalition, we are working to protect the Great Lakes we love and clean them up for future generations to enjoy.

  • Strengthen the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative: Since its passage in 2010, the GLRI has provided more than $2 billion to strategically target the biggest threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem and to accelerate progress toward achieving long term goals.
  • Water Infrastructure Investments: Dangerously outdated infrastructure remains a huge threat to our lakes. From combined sewer overflows to old lead service lines, our water infrastructure needs to be updated to protect water resources for future generations.
  • Prevent Invasive Species: The Great Lakes have been severely damaged by more than 180 invasive and non-native plant and animal species. We are strategically focused on reducing the risk of introduction of new aquatic invasive species.
  • Agriculture affects on the Great Lakes Basin: One of the greatest threats to the quality and health of Great Lakes and its tributaries is excess chemicals, fertilizers, and sediment from irresponsible agricultural practices. This pollution fuels harmful algal outbreaks across the Great Lakes region, which is a significant threat to the region’s drinking water, quality of life, and economic well-being.
  • Great Lake Compact and Water Diversions: The Great Lakes Compact is one of the most significant public water policy achievements in the world. Clean Water Action was instrumental in helping to ratify the Compact in Minnesota, the Great Lakes region, and in Congress.  Unfortunately there aren’t enough formal public input opportunities in the decision-making process when it comes to large water diversions from the lakes. Everyone should have an opportunity to let decision makers know whether or not our water stays in the lakes.
Lake Erie Algal Bloom - August 2015. Photo Credit: NOAA Great Lakes CoastWatch

Water Infrastructure in the Great Lakes:

Turning the “Rust Belt” into the “Water Belt”

Zebra mussels

Stopping invasive species in the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes are national treasures.

Farm Field

Agricultural Pollution in the Great Lakes

One of the greatest threats to the quality and health of Great Lakes and its tributaries is excess chemicals, fertilizers, and sediment from irresp

From We All Live Downstream

Great Lakes as seen from space
March 2, 2022

Today is Great Lakes Day, and a time to reflect on how unique the Great Lakes region is.  21% of the Earth’s available fresh surface water is on our doorstep. The lakes are beautiful and provide enjoyable opportunities from fishing, swimming, enjoying a beach and watching sunrise and sunsets over the inland seas. Yet for all the bounty the Great Lakes' 6 quadrillion gallons contain, thousands of households do not have access to safe and affordable drinking water.

A garden
May 2, 2018

It took awhile, but it seems spring is finally here!  In pursuit of creating a beautiful lawn and garden, many people unknowingly contaminate nearby lakes, rivers, and streams with fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Before you pull the lawn mower out of storage and get to work, you should know that what you do in your yard has a direct and indirect effect on the quality of our water. How long you cut your grass, how often you cut it, how much water and fertilizer you use and what you do with the grass clippings all impact the amount of pollution that ends up in our water.

Minnesota State Capitol-Drew Geraets
April 24, 2018

We are halfway through the Minnesota 2018 legislative session and it’s been made clear that some of our lawmakers are not willing to put our environment and public health first. They are placing policies that ignore science and weaken protections for our land, air, and water before people.