Great Lakes Basin Management

With record low water levels on the Great lakes, as well as many of the inland regional lakes and record high temperatures in 2012 and again projected for 2013, the environmental impact on the ecology and economies of the Basin loom large in the view of those who call it home.  In light of these broad sweeping changes, federal as well as state, and local governments in the region are deploying plans to address these changes. In this article we will discuss some of the details of the plans and highlight some ecologically responsible choices you can make.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

The 2013 sequester that took effect March 1st will impact some of the intended spending on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).  This initiative, outlined by a thorough action plan, will have its funding skimmed by about 8%. The federally funded plan for Great Lakes cleanup will lose about $25 Million this fiscal year. According to the White House press release on the issue “Michigan would lose about $5.9 million in environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality, as well as prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste. In addition, Michigan could lose another $1.5 million in grants for fish and wildlife protection.”


The action plan is part of a broad initiative to address significant impacts on the environment of the Great Lakes Basin. These changes, whether from cyclic climate change or human action, will be targeted through a collaborative, inter-agency effort that will be funded by the Federal government, given the multi-state and international significance of the lakes and rivers.

Collectively the Great Lakes Basin and surrounding communities constitute the second largest economy in the world, the first being the US itself.  This reality makes the condition and health of the Great Lakes a very important factor in the environmental and economic stability of the country as a whole.  According to the GLRI Action plan “The 4.3 million recreational boats registered in the eight Great Lakes states generate nearly $16 billion in spending on boats and boating activities in a single year. That spending directly supports 107,000 jobs, a figure that grows to nearly 250,000 when secondary impacts are taken into consideration.”

Harbor Dredging

dredgingThese cuts come just as many Great Lakes communities, spread out across the Basin, struggle to fund emergency dredging of their harbors or adjust harbor docks and piers in preparation for the 2013 summer season.  Michigan, under the direction of Gov. Snyder, has moved to reroute funds for many of these dredging projects; earmarking $21 million for the task, as well as easing the dredging permit process. The Michigan Senate approved the funding on March 5th, 2013 in the amount of $20.9 Million.

Lake Ecology

One of the main areas of concern that the action plan hopes to adequately address is the introduction of hazardous or generally harmful substances into the Great Lakes ecosystem.  As stated above, with 4.3 million recreational boats on the Great Lakes the sheer amount of opportunity for these chemicals to enter the ecosystem is staggering.  As one of those millions it is possible for you to take steps to prevent adding to this issue by selecting environmentally safe or “friendly” products for use on your boat, lift, and lake dock.

Chances are if you spend any time on a boat you have come into contact with products that are used for cleaning and protecting the various surfaces of that boat.  Ecologically minded product lines, such as Bio-Kleen offer a safe and environmentally friendly solution to your marine cleaning and protecting needs.  There are also safe sealants on the market that are designed to bring structural integrity without employing toxic or otherwise harmful chemicals.


The changes that are underway are being called “the new normal” and with projected temperatures for 2013 looking much like those of 2012, it’s certain that the economic impact on communities in the region will continue to grow; requiring significant ongoing investment and planning.  We hope that things will return to the old normal sooner rather than later, but if not, we will continue to monitor and report on what is happening and offer possible solutions for boating and recreational issues caused by the changes.

© 2013