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TEACH Water Pollution in the Great Lakes

6 | More to come ...

Although phosphorus levels in lakes Ontario and Erie have decreased by almost 80 percent since the 1970s and many regulations have been placed on toxic chemical dumping, water pollution in the Great Lakes is still causing severe damage to aquatic ecology and to our own health and quality of life. Beaches are consistently closed due to bacterial contamination, drinking water contamination has caused sickness and deaths around the region, many of our fish are poisoned with chemicals, and the sediments at the bottom of the lakes are becoming increasingly toxic.

... and then the silver lining
But the Great Lakes and waterways are showing signs of improvement. In late May 2001, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported the Cuyahoga River in Ohio -- the river that caught on fire in 1969 -- is now showing healthier fish than it has in decades. Researchers attribute the success to the cleanup of industries that had originally sent their wastes into the river, as well as better maintenance of sewer systems and sewage treatment plants in the Cuyahoga watershed.

References:
Great Lakes Atlas, 3rd edition
Wisconsin Sea Grant: Communications and Outreach Program
Environment Canada: Water Pollution
Agency for Toxic Substances and Diseases (ATSDR)
Nonpoint Source Pollution: U.S. EPA
Air Toxics and the Great Lakes: U.S. EPA
Lake Michigan Mass Balance Project: U.S. EPA

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