The Great Lakes and humans in their watersheds are inextricably interconnected.
- The Great Lakes affect many human lives. They supply fresh water to more than 40 million people. They are a source of drinking water and food, as well as mineral and energy resources.
- One-third of the North American population lives in the Great Lakes’ watershed. Some of the most urbanized regions in the United States and Canada can be found around the Lakes.
- The Great Lakes are affected directly by the decisions and actions of people throughout its watershed which includes parts of the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Wisconsin, the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and tribal lands.
- Local and national laws, regulations and resource management affect what is put into and taken out of the Great Lakes. Shoreline development and industrial or commercial activities lead to point and non-point source pollution. Humans have altered the biology of the lakes and the viability of species through harvesting, species introduction, and nutrient loading.
- Coastal regions along the Great Lakes are impacted by land use decisions and natural hazards. Physical modifications (changes to beaches, shores and rivers) can exacerbate effects of erosion, storm surges and lake level changes.
- To ensure continued availability of Great Lakes assets, people must live in ways that sustain the lakes. Individual and collective actions are needed to effectively conserve and manage Great Lakes resources for the benefit of all.