Annual report details Great Lakes triumphs and trials

Annual report details Great Lakes triumphs and trials

The 2022 State of the Great Lakes Report focuses on science, education, restoration

Building a water workforce through education and career pathways; advancing technology, scientific research, and data sharing; and protecting vital ecosystems are major focus areas in Michigan’s newly released 2022 State of the Great Lakes report.

The Office of the Great Lakes (OGL) in Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) prepare the annual report to the state Legislature on behalf of the governor, exploring major accomplishments, issues, and initiatives related to the health and sustainability of the world’s largest surface freshwater system.

The new report is posted on OGL’s website along with recent years’ reports. In addition to the topics above, its articles address growing Michigan’s water-driven blue economy, water workforce development, climate action, collaborative water management, pollution from microplastics and PFAS, and the importance of protecting culturally significant native plants and forested lands.

“This has been a year of milestones for U.S. water quality and the Great Lakes in particular,” said EGLE Director Liesl Clark, citing 50 years of environmental protections under both the federal Clean Water Act and the binational U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, along with Michigan’s historic ongoing reinvestment in water infrastructure. “Michiganders continue to build on this legacy as stewards of a world-class resource, and this annual report guides our efforts. Its focus on challenges and solutions enhances our understanding and empowers us to safeguard the lakes now and for future generations.”

Emily Finnell, OGL Great Lakes senior advisor and strategist, said the 2022 report highlights efforts to advance a sustainable future for Michigan and the Great Lakes through several themes, including public-private partnerships, cross-cultural connections, innovation in marine electrification, data-driven water resource management, filling the blue economy talent pipeline from K-12 and beyond, and building community and equity through waterfront restoration and revitalization.

While issues in the report affect all of Michigan, specific locations highlighted include:

  • The Traverse City area, where Northwestern Michigan College prepares students for blue economy careers.
  • Northern Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, where the nation’s first marine electric vehicle corridor is taking shape.
  • The Muskegon Lake region, where restoration of a polluted “Area of Concern” nears completion.
  • The Benton Harbor community, where partners unite around restoring a neglected creek.
  • A large swath of northern Michigan on both sides of the Straits of Mackinac, where a newly designated Biosphere Region celebrates its lands, waters, and people.
  • The Upper Peninsula’s Keweenaw Peninsula, where long-ago copper mining waste presents a major environmental challenge.
  • Southeast Michigan, where the drinking water for up to 40% of Michiganders benefits from forests covering two-thirds of the Lake Huron watershed.

About the Office of the Great Lakes: OGL develops policy and implements strategic programs to protect, restore, and sustain the Great Lakes watershed. The office collaborates with partner organizations to support sustainable water use and development of Great Lakes maritime resources; support vibrant and resilient communities; foster water stewardship; and advance science, research, and policy to solve the next generation of water challenges. Its mission is to ensure a healthy environment, strong blue economy, and high quality of life for Michiganders.

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