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Environment & Climate Change

Great Lakes residents concerned about water

satellite map of Michigan, the Great Lakes
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
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Residents of the Great Lakes basin are worried about their water.

Whether pollution, energy or invasive species like Asian carp, many of the 1,250 people surveyed in late 2013 by schools like the University of Michigan felt that the Great Lakes were ok, but could be better. This is despite tons of efforts to clean them up, says Barry Rabe, a public policy professor at U-M who was part of the survey.

"A near majority feel that Great Lakes conditions have not improved over the last 20 years," he says. "I think it's important to be aware of the what the public thinks and what the public knows."

The survey also looked at energy sources in the lakes. Americans were more supportive of efforts to expand wind power, but less so of nuclear power. Canadians surveyed thought the opposite, says Rabe.

One great finding, he says, was that 98% of the people they surveyed used the lakes regularly. He says he was pleased at how much people know about and seem to care about the largest freshwater system in the world.