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Great Lakes Water Wars Essay

2859 words - 12 pages

Great Lakes Water Wars

Introduction

Water is a requirement of all life, as “it dissolves organic molecules…allows for transportation in and out of cells; and it is involved in many of metabolic reactions in the cells,” (Bennett & Shostak, 2007). Water is therefore in high demand due to its importance need to sustain life. With a rising world population and increasing world pollution, is the supply of clean water is decreasing per capita against its forever growing demand. “While about three-fourths of the earth's surface is covered with water, only about 2.7 percent of it is drinkable,” (Allardice, 2005) “Some two-thirds of that is locked up in snow and ice,” (Ehewnman, 2003). ...view middle of the document...

The lakes that make up the Great Lakes are Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario. The Great Lakes are the largest surface fresh water abundances in the world.
“One-fifth of the world's fresh water supply is in the Great Lakes. The water basin of the Great Lakes covers some 95,000 square miles and holds some six quadrillion gallons. With its 20 percent share of the world's fresh water, the Great Lakes region is ideally situated,” (Allardice, 2005).

The Great Lakes remain second in volume next to Lake Baikal, which is located in Russia. The lakes “ultimately receive water supply from precipitation, which increases from west to east,” (Gwinn, B, & Goetz, 1990).” The lakes water decreases due to evaporation and water diversion.

Water Supply

The Great Lakes supply flows from west (Superior) to east (St. Lawrence River), except for Lake Michigan, which flows south from Lake Huron. Due to the Great Lakes high quantities of fresh water, many private companies have had interests in selling it to the world market. This is not possible since…

“significant export of fresh water has been blocked by political and environmental actions. In 1986, Congress passed the Water Resources Development Act, which prevents the diversion of water from the Great Lakes without the approval of the region's eight governors,” (Allardice, 2005).

Although the water cannot be diverted, businesses can withdraw small amounts according to the water pact which is explained in the water pact portion of this paper. The other issue that is threatening the water supply is the Lake Michigan water diversion. According to greatlakesdirectory.org, the Illinois-Michigan Canal was open to ship traffic in 1848 causing water to be diverted through the Chicago and Illinois Rivers to the Mississippi River. Due to a flow issue with Chicago’s sewage being flushed back into the Chicago River. Many people died, due to the fact that the river was also part of their drinking water. As a result in 1900 the canal created control structures to allow the sewage from Chicago to flow through the Illinois River (Figure 1). As a result in the 1920’s the Chicago diversion was as high as 24,000 million liters per day, which was reduced to 7,600 million liters per day by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967. This amount that was set by the court still remains the legal withdrawal amount by the State. Today nearly mare than half of the state’s population live outside the lake’s drainage basin, and are fortunate to have access to this supply of lake water. The issue of this diversion is that it is a major reason the declining of the Great Lakes water levels, as well as other diversions. Although Canada has no control of the amount Chicago can remove, the water pact upholds the limit that was set by the U.S. Supreme Court. The water levels must be sustained for the many uses and benefits they serve for both economies. This mostly includes the...

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