Money spent on restoring pollution hotspots in the Great Lakes — $22.78 billion U.S. since 1985 — has paid dividends, according to a researcher at the University of Windsor’s Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research.
“Our study focused on what has been achieved and learned from 35 years of cleaning up Great Lakes pollution hotspots called Areas of Concern,” says John Hartig. “Our lessons learned will be helpful to all organizations working to clean up polluted waterways and to care for the place they call home.”
Along with co-authors Gail Krantzberg of McMaster University and Peter Alsip of the University of Michigan, he found that every dollar toward cleanup resulted in more than $3 worth of community revitalization.
They published their findings in a new article in the Journal of Great Lakes Research, tracing the history of the Great Lakes Remedial Action Plan program. Among the key lessons drawn are the importance of: engaging local leaders and the public; establishing a compelling visions with measurable targets; building a record of success; and quantifying benefits that focus on the future of communities.
Dr. Hartig says a combination of strong environmental laws and locally-led cleanup processes can result in restoring polluted ecosystems, reconnecting people to waterways through greenway and kayak trails, that leads to waterfront revitalization.