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Great Lakes | Wikipedia audio article

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The Great Lakes French les grand laughs also called the lorentz and Great Lakes and the Great Lakes of North America are a series of interconnected freshwater lakes located primarily in the upper mid East region of North America on the Canada United States border which connect to the Atlantic Ocean through the Saint Lawrence River they consist of Lake Superior Michigan Huron Erie and Ontario although hydrologically there are four lakes superior Erie Ontario and Michigan Huron the Great Lakes are the largest group of freshwater lakes on earth by total area and second largest by total volume containing 21 percent of the world’s surface freshwater by volume the total surface as 94,000 250 square miles 240 4106 square kilometres and the total volume measured at the low-water datum is 5439 cubic miles 22,000 671 cubic kilometers slightly less than the volume of Lake Baikal 23,000 615 cubic kilometres 22 to 23 percent of the world’s surface freshwater due to their c-like characteristics rolling waves sustained winds strong currents great depths and distant horizons the five Great Lakes have also long been referred to as inland seas not counting Lake Michigan Huron Lake Superior as the second largest lake in the world by area and the largest freshwater lake by area Lake Michigan is the largest lake that is entirely within one country the Great Lakes began to form at the end of the last glacial period around fourteen thousand years ago as retreating ice sheets exposed the basins they had carved into the land which then filled with meltwater the lakes have been a major source for transportation migration trade and fishing serving as a habitat to a large number of aquatic species in a region with much biodiversity the surrounding region is called the Great Lakes region which includes the Great Lakes megalopolis topic geography though the five lakes lie in separate basins they form a single naturally interconnected body of freshwater within the Great Lakes basin they form a chain connecting the east central interior of North America to the Atlantic Ocean from the interior to the outlet at the st.Lawrence River water flows from superior to Huron and Michigan southward to Erie and finally northward to Lake Ontario the lakes drain a large watershed via many rivers and are studded with approximately 35,000 islands there are also several thousand smaller lakes often called inland lakes within the basin the surface area of the five primary lakes combined is roughly equal to the size of the United Kingdom while the surface area of the entire Basin the lakes and the land they drain is about the size of the UK and France combined Lake Michigan is the only one of the Great Lakes that is located entirely within the United States the others form a water boundary between the United States and Canada the lakes are divided among the jurisdictions of the Canadian province of Ontario in the US states of Michigan Wisconsin Minnesota Illinois Indiana Ohio Pennsylvania and New York both Ontario and Michigan include in their boundaries portions of four of the lakes Ontario does not border Lake Michigan and Michigan does not border Lake Ontario New York and Wisconsin’s jurisdictions extend into two Lakes and each of the remaining states into one of the lakes topic with imagery as the surfaces of Lake Superior Huron Michigan and Erie are all approximately the same elevation above sea level while Lake Ontario is significantly lower and because the Niagara Escarpment precludes all natural navigation the four upper lakes are commonly called the Upper Great Lakes this designation however is not Universal those living on the shore of Lake Superior often refer to all the other lakes as the lower Lakes because they are farther south sailors of bulk freighters transferring cargoes from Lake Superior and northern Lake Michigan and Lake Huron to ports on Lake Erie or Ontario commonly referred to the latter as the lower lakes and Lakes Michigan Huron and superior as the upper lakes this corresponds to thinking of Lakes Erie in Ontario as down south and the others as up north vessels sailing north on Lake Michigan are considered upbound even though they are sailing toward its effluent current topic primary connecting waterways the Chicago River and Calumet River systems connect the Great Lakes basin to the Mississippi River system through man-made alterations and canals the st.Marys River including the Soo Locks connects Lake Superior to Lake Huron the straits of mackinac connect Lake Michigan to Lake Huron which are hydrologically 1 the st. Clair River connects Lake Huron to Lake st. Clair the Detroit River connects Lake st. Clair to Lake Erie the Niagara River including Niagara Falls connects Lake Erie to Lake Ontario the Welland Canal bypassing the Falls connects Lake Erie to Lake Ontario the st. Lawrence River and the Saint Lawrence Seaway connect Lake Ontario to the Gulf of st. Lawrence which connects to the Atlantic Ocean topic Lake Michigan Huron Lakes Huron and Michigan are sometimes considered a single lake called Lake Michigan Huron because they are one hydrological body of water connected by the Straits of Mackinac the straights are five miles eight kilometers wide and 120 feet 37 meters deep the water levels currently at 577 feet 176 meters rise and fall together and the flow between Michigan and Huron frequently reverses direction topic other significant bodies of water Lake Nipigon connected to Lake Superior by the Nipigon River is surrounded by sill like formations of mafic and ultramafic igneous rock hundreds of meters high the lake lies in the Nipigon embayment a failed arm of the triple Junction centered beneath Lake Superior in the Mid Continent rift system event estimated at 1,100 nine million years ago Green Bay as an arm of Lake Michigan located along the south coast of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the east coast of Wisconsin it is separated from the rest of the lake by the door’ Peninsula in Wisconsin the garden’ Peninsula in Michigan and the chain of islands between them all of which were formed by the Niagara Escarpment Lake Winnebago connected to Green Bay by the Fox River serves as part of the Fox Wisconsin waterway and is part of a larger system of lakes in Wisconsin known as the Winnebago pool Grand Traverse Bay as an arm of Lake Michigan located on Michigan’s west coast being one of the largest natural harbors in the Great Lakes the bay has one large peninsula and one major island known as power island its name is derived from Jacques Marquette crossing of the bay from norwood to north port which he called Legrand a traverse II Georgian Bay as an arm of Lake Huron extending northeast from the lake entirely within Ontario the bay along with its narrow westerly extensions of the North Channel and Mississauga Strait is separated from the rest of the lake by the Bruce Peninsula Manitoulin Island and Cockburn Island all of which were also formed by the Niagara Escarpment Lake Nipissing connected to Georgian Bay by the French River contains two volcanic pipes which are the Manitou islands in Callender bay these pipes were formed by a violent supersonic eruption of deep origin the lake lies in the Ottawa banasur graben a Mesozoic Rift Valley that formed 175 million years ago Lake Simcoe connected to Georgian Bay by the Severn River serves as part of the Trent Severn waterway a canal route traversing southern Ontario between Lakes Ontario and Huron Lake st.Clair connected with Lake Huron to its north by the st. Clair River and with Lake Erie to its south by the Detroit River although it is 17 times smaller in area than Lake Ontario and only rarely included in the listings of the Great Lakes proposals for its official recognition as a great lake are occasionally made which would affect its inclusion in scientific research projects etc designated as related to the Great Lakes you topic Islands dispersed throughout the Great Lakes are approximately 35,000 islands the largest among them as Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron the largest island in any inland body of water in the world the second largest island is Isle Royale in Lake Superior both of these islands are large enough to contain multiple lakes themselves for instance Manitoulin islands lake Manitou as the world’s largest lake located on the freshwater island some of these lakes even have their own islands like Treasure Island in Lake Minda Moya in Manitoulin Island topic peninsulas the Great Lakes also have several peninsulas between them including the door Peninsula the peninsula’s of Michigan and the Ontario Peninsula some of these peninsulas even contain smaller peninsulas like the Kenai Peninsula the thumb Peninsula the Bruce Peninsula and the Niagara Peninsula population centers on the peninsula’s include Grand Rapids Michigan Detroit Michigan London Ontario Hamilton Ontario and Toronto Ontario topic shipping connection to the ocean the st.Lawrence Seaway in Great Lakes waterway make the Great Lakes accessible to ocean-going vessels however shifts in shipping to wider ocean-going container ships which do not fit through the locks on these routes have limited container shipping on the lakes most Great Lakes trade as a bulk material and bulk freighters of Seaway max size or less can move throughout the entire Lakes and out to the Atlantic larger ships are confined to working in the lakes themselves only barges can access the Illinois waterway system providing access to the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River despite their vast size large sections of the Great Lakes freeze over in winter interrupting most shipping from January to March some icebreakers ply the lakes keeping the shipping lanes open through other periods of ice on the lakes the Great Lakes are also connected by canal to the Gulf of Mexico by way of the Illinois River from the Chicago River and the Mississippi River an alternate track is via the Illinois River from Chicago to the Mississippi at the Ohio and then through the Tennessee Tombigbee waterway a combination of a series of rivers and lakes and canals to Mobile Bay in the Gulf commercial tug and barge traffic on these waterways as heavy pleasure boats can also enter or exit the Great Lakes by way of the Erie Canal and Hudson River in New York the Erie Canal connects to the Great Lakes at the east end of Lake Erie at Buffalo New York and at the south side of Lake Ontario at Oswego New York topic water levels in 2009 the lakes contained 84% of the surface fresh water of North America if the water were evenly distributed over the entire continents land area it would reach a depth of 1.5 meters 5 feet the source of water levels in the lakes is tied to what was left by melting glaciers when the lakes took their present form annually only about 1% us new water originating from rivers precipitation and groundwater Springs that drain into the lakes historically evaporation has been balanced by drainage making the level of the lakes constant while the lake levels have been preserved intensive human population growth only began in the region in the 20th century and continues today at least to human water use activities have been identified as having the potential to affect the lakes levels diversion the transfer of water to other watersheds and consumption substantially done today by the use of lake water to power and cool electric generation plants resulting in evaporation the water level of Lake Michigan Huron had remained fairly constant over the 20th century but has nevertheless dropped more than six feet from the record high in 1986 to the low of 2013 one newspaper reported that the long-term average level has gone down about 20 inches because of dredging and subsequent erosion in the st.Clair River Lake Michigan Huron hit all-time record low levels in 2013 according to the US Army Corps of Engineers the previous record low had been set in 1964 by April 2015 the water level had recovered to 7 inches 17.5 centimeters more than the long-term monthly average you topic name origins you Lake Erie from the Erie tribe a shortened form of the Iroquois inward aerial Honan long tail Lake Huron the native Wyandotte originally referred to the lake by the name Karen yandi a word which has been variously translated as freshwater see Lake of the Hurons or simply lake the first French explorers in the area named the lake after the inhabitants of the area the Wyandotte or Hurons Lake Michigan from the Ojibwe word Misha gammy great water or large lake Lake Ontario from the Wyandotte Huron word Ontario lake of shining waters Lake Superior english translation of the french term lac super upper lake referring to its position north of lake huron the indigenous Ojibwe call it gitche gumee from Ojibwe Geechee big large great gammy water lake c popularized in french influenced transliteration as gitche gumee as in Gordon Lightfoot’s 1976 story song the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald or gitche gumee as in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1855 epic poem the song of hiawatha topic statistics the Great Lakes contain 21% of the world’s surface freshwater 5,000 472 cubic miles twenty-two thousand eight hundred ten cubic kilometers or 6.0 times 10:15 US gallons that is six quadrillion US gallons 2.3 times 1016 liters this is enough water to cover the 48 contiguous US states to a uniform depth of 9.5 feet 2.9 meters although the lakes contain a large percentage of the world’s freshwater the Great Lakes supply only a small portion of us drinking water on a national basis the total surface area of the lakes is approximately ninety four thousand two hundred fifty square miles two hundred forty four thousand one hundred square kilometers nearly the same size as the United Kingdom and larger than the US states of New York New Jersey Connecticut Rhode Island Massachusetts Vermont and New Hampshire combined the Great Lakes Coast measures approximately 10,500 miles 16900 kilometers however the length of a coastline is impossible to measure exactly and is not a well-defined measure Sea coastline paradox of the total ten thousand five hundred miles 16 thousand nine hundred kilometers of shoreline Canada borders approximately five thousand two hundred miles 8 thousand four hundred kilometers while the remaining five thousand three hundred miles eight thousand five hundred kilometers are bordered by the United States Michigan has the longest shoreline of the United States bordering roughly three thousand two hundred eighty eight miles five thousand two hundred ninety two kilometers of shoreline followed by Wisconsin eight hundred twenty miles one thousand three hundred twenty kilometers New York 473 miles 761 kilometres in Ohio 312 miles 502 kilometres traversing the shoreline of all the lakes would cover a distance roughly equivalent to traveling halfway around the world at the equator topic geology it has been estimated that the foundational geology that created the conditions shaping the present-day Upper Great Lakes was laid from 1.1 to 1.2 billion years ago when two previously fused tectonic plates split apart and created the midcontinent rift which crossed the Great Lakes tectonic zone a valley was formed providing a basin that eventually became modern-day Lake Superior when a second fault line the st.Lawrence reformed approximately 570 million years ago the basis for lakes Ontario and Erie were created along with what would become the st. Lawrence River the Great Lakes are estimated to have been formed at the end of the last glacial period the Wisconsin glaciation ended 10,000 to 12,000 years ago when the Laurentide Ice Sheet receded the retreat of the ice sheet left behind a large amount of meltwater see Lake Algonquin Lake Chicago glacial Lake Iroquois and Champlain sea that filled up the basins that the glaciers had carved thus creating the Great Lakes as we know them today because of the uneven nature of glacier erosion some higher hills became Great Lakes islands the Niagara Escarpment follows the contour of the Great Lakes between New York and Wisconsin land below the glaciers rebounded as it was uncovered since the glaciers covered some areas longer than others this glacial rebound occurred at different rates a notable modern phenomenon is the formation of ice volcanoes over the lakes during wintertime storm generated waves carved the lakes ice sheet and create conical mounds through the eruption of water and slush the process is only well documented in the Great Lakes and has been credited with sparing the southern shore lines from worse rocky erosion topic climate the Great Lakes have a humid continental climate köppen climate classification DFA in southern areas and DFB in northern parts with varying influences from air masses from other regions including dry cold arctic systems mild pacific air masses from the west and warm wet tropical systems from the south and the gulf of mexico the lakes themselves also have a moderating effect on the climate they can also increase precipitation totals and produce lake effect snow fall epic lake-effect the most well-known winter effect of the Great Lakes on regional weather as the lake effect in snowfall which is sometimes very localized even late in winter the lakes often have no ice back in the middle the prevailing winds from the West pick up the air and moisture from the lake surface which is slightly warmer in relation to the cold surface winds above as the slightly warmer moist air passes over the colder land surface the moisture often produces concentrated heavy snowfall that sets up in bands or streamers this is similar to the effect of warmer air dropping snow as it passes over mountain ranges during freezing weather with high winds the snow belts receive regular snowfall from this localized weather pattern especially along the eastern shores of the lakes snow belts are found in Wisconsin Michigan Ohio Pennsylvania and New York United States and Ontario Canada the lakes also moderate seasonal temperatures to some degree but not with as large and influences do large oceans they absorb heat and cool the air in summer then slowly radiate that heat in autumn they protect against frost during transitional weather and keep the summertime temperatures cooler than further inland this effect can be very localized and overridden by offshore wind patterns this temperature buffering produces areas known as fruit bounce where fruit can be produced that is typically grown much farther south for instance Western Michigan has apple and cherry orchards and vineyards cultivated adjacent to the Lake Shore as far north as the Grand Traverse Bay and Nottawasaga Bay in central Ontario the eastern shore of Lake Michigan and the southern shore of Lake Erie have many successful wineries because of the moderating effect as does the Niagara Peninsula between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario a similar phenomenon allows wineries to flourish in the Finger Lakes region of New York as well as in Prince Edward County Ontario on Lake Ontario northeast shore related to the lake effect as the regular occurrence of fog over medium-sized areas particularly along the shorelines of the lakes this is most noticeable along Lake Superior Shores the Great Lakes have been observed to help intensify storms such as Hurricane Hazel in 1954 and the 2011 Goderich Ontario tornado which moved onshore as a tornadic waterspout in 1996 a rare tropical or subtropical storm was observed forming in Lake Huron dubbed the 1996 Lake Huron cyclone rather large severe thunderstorms covering wide areas are well known in the Great Lakes during midsummer these mesoscale convective complexes or MCCS can cause damage to wide swaths of forests and shatter glass in city buildings these storms mainly occur during the night and the systems sometimes have small embedded tornadoes but more often straight line winds accompanied by intense lightning ecology historically the Great Lakes in addition to their lake ecology were surrounded by various forest ecoregions except in a relatively small area of Southeast Lake Michigan where savanna or prairie occasionally intruded logging urbanization and agriculture uses have changed that relationship in the early 21st century Lake Superior Shores are 91% forested Lake Huron 68% Lake Ontario 49% Lake Michigan 41% and Lake Erie we’re logging and urbanization has been most extensive 21% some of these forests are second or third growth ie they have been logged before changing their composition at least 13 wildlife species are documented as becoming extinct since the arrival of Europeans and many more are threatened or endangered meanwhile exotic and invasive species have also been introduced topic fauna the organisms living on the bottom of shallow waters are similar to those found in smaller lakes the deep waters however contain organisms found only in deep cold lakes of the northern latitudes these include the delicate opossum shrimp order Masada the deepwater Scud a crustacean of the order amphipod a– two types of cones and the deepwater sculpin a spiny large headed fish the Great Lakes are an important source of fishing early European settlers were astounded by both the variety and quantity of fish there were 150 different species in the Great Lakes throughout history fish populations were the early indicator of the condition of the lakes and have remained one of the key indicators even in the current era of sophisticated analyses and measuring instruments according to the binational US and Canadian resource book the Great Lakes an environmental atlas and resource book the largest Great Lakes fish harvests were recorded in 1889 and 1899 at some sixty seven thousand tons sixty-six thousand long tons 74,000 short tons 147 million pounds by 1801 the New York legislature found it necessary to pass regulations curtailing obstructions to the natural migrations of Atlantic salmon from Lake Erie into their spawning channels in the early 19th century the government of Upper Canada found it necessary to introduced similar legislation prohibiting the use of Weir’s and nets at the mouths of Lake Ontario Striga Terry’s other protective legislation was passed as well but enforcement remained difficult on both sides of the Canada United States border the proliferation of dams and impoundments have multiplied resuscitating more regulatory efforts concerns by the mid 19th century included obstructions in the rivers which prevented salmon and lake sturgeon from reaching their spawning grounds the Wisconsin Fisheries Commission noted a reduction of roughly 25 percent in general fish harvests by 1875 the states have removed dams from rivers where necessary overfishing has been cited as a possible reason for a decrease in population of various whitefish important because of their culinary desirability and hence economic consequence moreover between 8 79 in 1899 reported whitefish harvests declined from some twenty four point three million pounds 11 million kilograms to just over nine million pounds four million kilograms by nineteen hundred commercial fishermen on lake michigan were hauling in an average of 41 million pounds of fish annually by 1938 Wisconsin’s commercial fishing operations were motorized and mechanized generating jobs for more than two thousand workers and hauling 14 million pounds per year the population of giant freshwater mussels was eliminated as the mussels were harvested for use as buttons by early great lakes entrepreneurs since 2000 the invasive quagga mussel has smothered the bottom of Lake Michigan almost from shore to shore and their numbers are estimated at nine hundred trillion the influx of parasitic lamprey populations after the development of the Erie Canal and the much later Welland Canal led to the two federal governments of the US and Canada working on joint proposals to control it by the mid-1950s the lake trout populations of lakes Michigan and Huron were reduced with the lamprey deemed largely to blame this led to the launch of the binational Great Lakes fishery Commission the Great Lakes an environmental atlas and resource book 1972 noted only pockets remain of the once large commercial fishery but water quality improvements realized during the 1970s and 1980s combined with successful salmon and stocking programs have enabled the growth of a large recreational fishery the last commercial fisherman left Milwaukee in 2011 because of overfishing and anthropogenic changes to the biosphere since the 19th century an estimated 160 new species have found their way into the Great Lakes ecosystem many have become invasive the overseas ship ballast and ship hull parasite is Ammar causing severe economic and ecological impacts according to the inland seas Education Association on average a new species enters the Great Lakes every eight months introductions into the Great Lakes include the zebra mussel which was first discovered in 1988 and quagga mussel in 1989 the mollusks are efficient filter feeders competing with native mussels and reducing available food and spawning grounds for fish in addition the mussels may be a nuisance to industries by clogging pipes the US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that the economic impact of the zebra mussel could be about five billion dollars over the next decade the alewife first entered the system west of Lake Ontario via 19th century canals by the 1960s the small silver fish had become a familiar nuisance to beachgoers across Lakes Michigan Huron and Erie periodic mass die-offs result in vast numbers of the fish washing up on shore estimates by various governments have placed the percentage of Lake Michigan’s biomass which was made up of alewives in the early 1960s as high as 90% in the late 1960s the various state and federal governments began stocking several species of salmonids including the native lake trout as well as non-native chinook and coho salmon by the 1980’s alewife populations had dropped drastically the roof a small proceeded fish from Eurasia became the most abundant fish species in Lake Superior st.Louis River within five years of its detection in 1986 it’s range which has expanded to Lake Huron poses a significant threat to the lower lake fishery five years after first being observed in the st. Clair River the round goby can now be found in all of the Great Lakes the goby is considered undesirable for several reasons it preys upon bottom feeding fish overruns optimal habitat sponge multiple times a season and can survive poor water quality conditions several species of exotic water fleas have accidentally been introduced into the Great Lakes such as the spiny waterflea by thought roofies LAN Jimenez and the fishhook waterflea circa pegas penguia potentially having an effect on the zooplankton population several species of crayfish have also been introduced that may contend with native crayfish populations more recently an electric fence has been set up across the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in order to keep several species of invasive Asian carp out of the area these fast-growing planktivores fish have heavily colonized the Mississippi and Illinois river systems the sea lamprey which has been particularly damaging to the native lake trout population is another example of a marine and species in the Great Lakes invasive species particularly zebra and quagga mussels may be at least partially responsible for the collapse of the deep water demersal fish community in lake huron as well as drastic unprecedented changes in the zooplankton community of the lake topic flora see also flora of the Great Lakes region and index trees of the Great Lakes region native habitats and EcoRI jhin’s in the Great Lakes region include eastern forests boreal transition eastern Great Lakes lowland forests southern Great Lakes forests central forest grasslands transition Upper Midwest forests savanna transition Western Great Lakes forests central Canadian Shield forests Llorente and mixed forest province beech maple forest habitats of the Indiana Dunes plant lists include list of Michigan flowers list of Minnesota wildflowers list of Minnesota trees logging logging of the extensive forests in the Great Lakes region removed riparian and adjacent tree cover over rivers and streams which provides shade moderating water temperatures and fish spawning grounds removal of trees also dis table eyes the soil with greater volumes washed into stream beds causing siltation of gravel beds and more frequent flooding running cut logs down the tributary rivers into the Great Lakes also dislocated sediments in 1884 the New York Fish Commission determined that the dumping of sawmill waste chips and sawdust had impacted fish populations topic pollution the first u.s.Clean Water Act passed by a congressional override after being vetoed by US President Richard Nixon in 1972 was a key piece of legislation along with the binational Great Lakes water quality agreement signed by Canada in the u.s. a variety of steps taken to process industrial and municipal pollution discharges into the system greatly improved water quality by the 1980s and Lake Erie in particular a significantly cleaner discharge of toxic substances has been sharply reduced federal and state regulations control substances like PCBs the first of 43 great lakes areas of concern to be formally de listed due to successful cleanup was Ontario’s Collingwood Harbor in 1994 Ontario’s Severn Sound followed in 2003 Presque Isle Bay in Pennsylvania is formally listed as in recovery as as Ontario Spanish harbour dozens of other areas of concern have received partial cleanups such as the Rouge River Michigan and Waukegan Harbor Illinois phosphate detergents were historically a major source of nutrient to the Great Lakes algae blooms in particular in the warmer and shallower portions of the system such as Lake Erie Saginaw Bay Green Bay and the southernmost portion of Lake Michigan by the mid 1980s most jurisdictions bordering the Great Lakes had controlled phosphate detergents resulting in sharp reductions in the frequency and extent of the blooms in 2013 news of a garbage patch of plastic pollution in the lakes was reported topic mercury until 1970 mercury was not listed as a harmful chemical according to the United States federal water quality administration within the past 10 years mercury has become more apparent in water tests mercury compounds have been used in paper mills to prevent slime from forming during their production and chemical companies have used mercury to separate chlorine from brine solutions studies conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency have shown that when the mercury comes in contact with many of the bacteria and compounds in the fresh water it forms the compound methyl mercury which has a much greater impact on human health than elemental mercury due to a higher propensity for absorption this form of mercury is not detrimental to a majority of fish types but is very detrimental to people and other wildlife animals who consume the fish mercury has been known for health related problems such as birth defects in humans and animals and the near extinction of Eagles in the Great Lakes region topic sewage the amount of raw sewage dumped into the waters was the primary focus of both the first Great Lakes water quality agreement and federal laws passed in both countries during the 1970s implementation of secondary treatment of municipal sewage by major cities greatly reduced the routine discharge of untreated sewage during the 1970s and 1980s the International Joint Commission in 2009 summarized the change since the early 1970s the level of treatment to reduce pollution from wastewater discharges to the Great Lakes has improved considerably this is a result of significant expenditures to date on both infrastructure and technology and robust regulatory systems that have proven to be on the whole quite effective the Commission reported that all urban sewage treatment systems on the US side of the lakes had implemented secondary treatment has had all on the Canadian side except for five small systems however contrary to federal laws in both countries those treatment system upgrades have not yet eliminated combined sewer overflow events this describes when older sewerage systems which combine storm water with sewage into single sewers heading to the treatment plant are temporarily overwhelmed by heavy rainstorms local sewage treatment authorities then must release untreated effluent a mix of rain water and sewage into local water bodies while enormous public investments such as the deep tunnel projects in Chicago and Milwaukee have greatly reduced the frequency and volume of these events they have not been eliminated the number of such overflow events in Ontario for example is flat according to the International Joint Commission reports about this issue on the US side highlight five large municipal systems those of Detroit Cleveland Buffalo Milwaukee and Gary as being the largest current periodic sources of untreated discharges into the Great Lakes topic history you several Native American tribes inhabited the region since at least 10,000 BC after the end of the Wisconsin glaciation the peoples of the Great Lakes traded with the Hopewell culture from around 1000 AD as copper nuggets have been extracted from the region and fashioned into ornaments and weapons in the mounds of southern Ohio the Brigantine leg riffin which was commissioned by rene robert cavaliere Cyr De La Salle was built at Cayuga Creek near the southern end of the Niagara River and became the first known sailing ship to travel the Upper Great Lakes on August 7 1679 the rush Baggett treaty signed in 1818 after the war of 1812 in the later Treaty of Washington eventually led to a complete disarmament of naval vessels in the Great Lakes nonetheless both nations maintained Coast Guard vessels in the Great Lakes during settlement the Great Lakes and its rivers were the only practical means of moving people and freight barges from middle North America were able to reach the Atlantic Ocean from the Great Lakes when the Welland Canal opened in 1824 and the later Erie Canal opened in 1825 by 1848 with the opening of the Illinois and Michigan canal at Chicago direct access to the Mississippi River was possible from the lakes with these two canals and all inland water route was provided between New York City and New Orleans the main business of many of the passenger lines in the 19th century was transporting immigrants many of the larger cities owe their existence to their position on the lakes as a freight destination as well as for being a magnet for immigrants after railroads and surface roads developed the freight and passenger businesses dwindled and except for ferries and a few foreign cruise ships has now vanished the immigration route still have in effect today immigrants often formed their own communities and some areas have a pronounced ethnicity such as Dutch German polish finish and many others since many immigrants settled for a time in New England before moving westward many areas on the US side of the Great Lakes also have a New England feel especially in home styles in accent since general Freight these days is transported by railroads and trucks domestic ships mostly move bulk cargoes such as iron ore coal and limestone for this steel industry the domestic bulk freight developed because of the nearby mines it was more economical to transport the ingredients for steel to centralised plants rather than try to make steel on-the-spot grain exports are also a major cargo on the lakes in the 19th century and early 20th centuries iron and other ores such as copper worship south on down bound ships and supplies food and coal worship north up bound because of the location of the coal fields in Pennsylvania in West Virginia and the general northeast tract of the Appalachian Mountains railroads naturally developed shipping routes that went to due north to ports such as Erie Pennsylvania and Ashtabula Ohio because the lake maritime community largely developed independently it has some distinctive vocabulary ships no matter the size are called boats when the sailing ships gave way to steam ships they were called steam boats the same term used on the Mississippi the ships also have the distinctive design see lake freighter ships that primarily trade on the lakes are known as Lakers foreign boats are known as salties one of the more common sites on the lakes has been since about 1950 the 1,000 by 105 foot 305 by 32 meter 78852 80,000 120 metric ton self unloader this is a Laker with a conveyor belt system that can unload itself by swinging a crane over the side today the Great Lakes fleet is much smaller in numbers than it once was because of the increased use of Overland Freight and a few larger ships replacing many small ones during World War Two the risk of submarine attacks against coastal training facilities motivated the United States Navy to operate two aircraft carriers on the Great Lakes USS sable xat 1 and USS wolverine x64 both served as training ships to qualify naval aviators in carrier landing and takeoff lake champlain briefly became the sixth great lake of the United States on March 6th 1998 when President Clinton signed Senate bill 927 this bill which reauthorized the National Sea Grant program contained a line declaring Lake Champlain to be a great lake not coincidentally this status allows neighboring states to apply for additional federal research and education funds allocated to these national resources following a small uproar the Senate voted to revoke the designation on March 24th although New York and Vermont universities would continue to see funds to monitor and study the lake in the early years of the 21st century water levels in the Great Lakes were a concern researchers at the mo it Center said that low levels could cost nineteen billion dollars by 2050 topic economy topic shipping except when the water is frozen during winter more than 100 Lake freighters operate continuously on the Great Lakes which remain a major water transport corridor for bulk goods the Great Lakes waterway connects all the lakes the smaller st.Lawrence Seaway connects the Lakes to the Atlantic oceans some Lake freighters are too large to use the Seaway and only operate on the waterway in lakes in 2002 162 million net tons of dry bulk cargo were moved on the lakes this was in order of volume iron ore grain and potash the iron ore and much of the stone and coal are used in the steel industry there is also some shipping of liquid and containerized cargo but most container ships cannot pass the locks on the st. Lawrence Seaway because the ships are too wide only four bridges are on the Great Lakes other than Lake Ontario because of the cost of building structures high enough for ships to pass under the blue water bridges for example more than 150 feet high and more than a mile long topic drinking water and compact the Great Lakes are used to supply drinking water to tens of millions of people in bordering areas this valuable resource is collectively administered by the state and provincial governments adjacent to the lakes who have agreed to the Great Lakes compact to regulate water supply and use topic recreation tourism and recreation are major industries on the Great Lakes a few small cruise ships operate on the Great Lakes including a couple of sailing ships sport fishing commercial fishing and Native American fishing represent a u.s.4 billion dollars a year industry with salmon whitefish smelt lake trout bass and walleye being major catches many other water sports are practiced on the lakes such as yachting sea kayaking diving kite surfing power boating and lake surfing the Great Lakes circled tour as a designated scenic road system connecting all of the Great Lakes in the st. Lawrence River topic Great Lakes passenger steamers from 1844 through 1857 Palace steamers carried passengers in cargo around the Great Lakes in the first half of the 20th century large luxurious passenger steamers sailed the lakes in opulence the Detroit and Cleveland navigation company had several vessels at the time and hired workers from all walks of life to help operate these vessels several ferries currently operate on the Great Lakes to carry passengers to various islands including Isle Royale Drummond Island Pelee Island Mackinac Island Beaver Island blah blah island Ontario Bois Blanc Island Michigan Kelley’s Island South bass island north manitou island South Manitou Island Harsens Island managed to land Island and the Toronto Islands as of 2007 for car ferry services crossed the Great Lakes to on Lake Michigan a steamer from Ludington Michigan to Manitowoc Wisconsin and a high-speed catamaran from Milwaukee to Muskegon Michigan one on Lake Erie a boat from Kingsville Ontario or lemming ttan Ontario to pili island Ontario then on to send us key Ohio and one on Lake Huron the MS chi chi minh runs between Tobermory and south bay method Toulon Island operated by the Owen Sound transportation company an international ferry across Lake Ontario Rochester New York to Toronto ran during 2004 in 2005 but is no longer in operation shipwrecks the large size of the Great Lakes increases the risk of water travel storms and reefs are common threats the lakes are prone to sudden and severe storms in particular in the autumn from late October until early December hundreds of ships have met their end on the lakes the greatest concentration of shipwrecks lies near Thunder Bay Michigan beneath Lake Huron near the point where eastbound and westbound shipping lanes converge the Lake Superior shipwreck Coast from Grand Marais Michigan to whitefish Point became known as the graveyard of the Great Lakes more vessels have been lost in the whitefish Point area than any other part of Lake Superior the whitefish point underwater preserved serves as an underwater museum to protect the many shipwrecks in this area the first ship to sink in Lake Michigan was Legree Fionn also the first ship to sail the Great Lakes caught in a 1679 storm while trading furs between Green Bay and Mozilla matchin Act she was lost with all hands aboard its wreck may have been found in 2004 but a wreck subsequently discovered in a different location was also claimed in 2014 two bila Griffon the largest and last major freighter wrecked on the lakes was the SS Edmund Fitzgerald which sank on November 10th 1975 just over 17 miles thirty kilometers offshore from whitefish point on Lake Superior the largest loss of life in a shipwreck out on the lakes may have been that of Lady Elgin wrecked in 1860 with the loss of around 400 lives on Lake Michigan in an incident at a Chicago dock in 1915 the SS Eastland rolled over while loading passengers killing 841 in August 2007 the Great Lakes shipwreck Historical Society announced that it had found the wreckage of Cyprus a four hundred twenty foot 130 metres long century old or carrier Cyprus sank during a Lake Superior storm on October 11th 1907 during its second voyage while hauling iron ore from superior Wisconsin to Buffalo New York the entire crew of 23 drowned except one Charles Pitts who floated on a life raft for almost seven hours in June 2008 deep-sea divers in Lake Ontario found the wreck of the 1780 Royal Navy warship HMS Ontario in what has been described as in archaeological miracle there are no plans to raise her as the site is being treated as a war grave in June 2010 LR Doty was found in Lake Michigan by an exploration diving team led by dive boat captain he Kahana Cova from her boat the Molly V the ship sank in October 1898 probably attempting to rescue a small schooner olive Jeanette during a terrible storm still missing are the two last warships to sink in the Great Lakes the French mine sweepers increment and Serra Souls which vanished in Lake Superior during a blizzard in 1918 seventy-eight lives were lost making it the largest loss of life in Lake Superior and the greatest unexplained loss of life in the Great Lakes related articles topic legislation in 1872 a treaty gave access to the st.Lawrence River to the United States and access to Lake Michigan to the Dominion of Canada the International Joint Commission was established in 1909 to help prevent and resolve disputes relating to the use and quality of Boundary Waters and to advise Canada in the United States on questions related to water resources concerns over diversion of lake water are of concern to both Americans and Canadians some water is diverted through the Chicago River to operate the Illinois waterway but the flow is limited by treaty possible schemes for bottled water plants and diversion to dry regions of the continent raise concerns under the US Water Resources Development Act diversion of water from the Great Lakes basin requires the approval of all eight Great Lakes governors through the Great Lakes Commission which rarely occurs international treaties regulate large diversions in 1998 the Canadian company Nova Group won approval from the province of Ontario to withdraw 158 million u.s.Gallons 600 thousand cubic meters of Lake Superior water annually to ship by tanker to Asian countries public outcry forced the company to abandon the plan before it began since that time the eight Great Lakes governors and the premiers of Ontario and Quebec have negotiated the Great Lakes st. Lawrence River Basin sustainable water resources agreement and the Great Lakes treat Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact that would prevent most future diversion proposals and all long-distance ones the agreements strengthened protection against abusive water withdrawal practices within the Great Lakes basin on December 13 2005 the governors and premiers signed these two agreements the first of which is between all ten jurisdictions it is somewhat more detailed and protective though it’s legal strength has not yet been tested in court the second the Great Lakes compact has been approved by the state legislatures of all eight states that border the Great Lakes as well as the US Congress and was signed into law by President George W Bush on October 3rd 2008 the Great Lakes restoration initiative described as the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decade was funded at 475 million dollars in the US federal government’s fiscal year 2011 budget and 300 million dollars in the fiscal year 2012 budget through the program a coalition of federal agencies is making grants to local and state entities for toxics cleanups wetlands and coastline restoration projects and invasive species related projects topic coast guard live-fire exercises in 2006 the United States Coast Guard USCG proposed a plan to designate 34 areas in the Great Lakes at least 5 miles 8 kilometers offshore as permanent safety zones for live fire machine-gun practice in August 2006 the plan was published in the Federal Register the USCG reserved the right to hold target practice whenever the weather allowed with a two-hour notice these firing ranges would be open to the public when not in use in response to requests from the public the Coast Guard held a series of public meetings in 9 US cities to solicit comment during these meetings many people voiced concerns about the plan and its impact on the environment on December 18 2006 the Coast Guard announced its decision to withdraw the entire proposal officials said they would look into alternative ammunition modifying the proposed zones and have more public dialogue before proposing a new plan topic see also topic references topic further reading topic external links you Great Lakes new international encyclopedia 1905 how the Great Lakes were built popular science monthly 49 June 1896 Great Lakes website of the Canadian Department of the Environment Great Lakes website of the United States Environmental Protection Agency by national website of US EPA and Environment Canada for Great Lakes water quality Great Lakes environmental research laboratory website and arm of the American National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Great Lakes information network sponsored by the Great Lakes Commission an official American interstate compact agency Great Lakes echo a publication covering Great Lakes environmental issues maritime history of the Great Lakes digital library covering Great Lakes history dynamically updated data surface temperatures water levels currents ship locations water levels since 1918

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