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John Hartig, visiting scholar at the University of Windsor's Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, has contributed to a report focused on waterfront remediation efforts.John Hartig, visiting scholar at the University of Windsor's Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, has contributed to a report by The International Association for Great Lakes Research focused on waterfront remediation efforts.

Visiting scholar contributes to Great Lakes revival study

What do the Detroit River, Toronto Harbour and New York’s Buffalo River all have in common?

These waterways were once among the 10 most polluted in the Great Lakes. Now they boast magnificent waterfronts and restored habitat for fish and wildlife. They are the pride of their communities, drawing residents and tourists alike.

The International Association for Great Lakes Research has highlighted these waterways in a report entitled Great Lakes Revival, released Tuesday. The report features 10 case studies on the remediation efforts for the Detroit River, Toronto Harbour, Buffalo River, Hamilton Harbour, Collingwood Harbour and Severn Sound in Ontario, the Cuyahoga River in Ohio, Muskegon Lake and River Raisin in Michigan, and the St. Louis River in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Great Lakes Revival is the story of how clean up of the most polluted areas of the Great Lakes leads to reconnecting people to these waterways that leads to community and economic revitalization,” said John Hartig, science policy advisor for the IAGLR and visiting scholar at the University of Windsor’s Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research.

The case studies included in the report show how communities reclaimed waterways thanks to a Canada-US partnership beginning in 1985 on what became known as the Great Lakes Areas of Concern. Once polluted with industrial and agricultural toxic residues, these waterways are now economic drivers for their local communities.

“Without science-based clean up of these pollution hot spots, community and economic revitalization would not have been possible,” Dr. Hartig said.

“This study provides compelling rationale to sustain Great Lakes funding as part of a community revitalization strategy.”

The IAGLR is a scientific organization made up of people interested in the Laurentian Great Lakes and researchers with a common interest in the sustainable management of large lake ecosystems. It holds an annual conference and publishes a periodical called the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

In releasing its report Tuesday, the IAGLR said the 10 Areas of Concern make the case for continued support to finish their remediation.

“They remind us of our place in the Great Lakes basin ecosystem and how our well-being and health is inextricably linked to the health of its waters.”

─ Sarah Sacheli