More people worry about the health of the Great Lakes, poll finds

More Great Lakes residents in the United States and Canada think the Great Lakes are in poor condition than those who think they are in good shape.

The Great Lakes Water Quality Board survey asked 4,500 people to rate the current state of the environmental health of their favorite Great Lake.

33% said their lake was in bad or very bad condition. Lakes Michigan, Erie, and Ontario were rated to be much worse than Huron and Superior. 29% said the lakes were good or very good, and again, Lakes Huron and Superior were rated as much better. 18% were neutral on the issue and 19% said they did not know.

As to whether it is safe to swim in a Great Lake, 30% said unsafe and 40% said safe.

As to whether it is safe to drink Great Lakes water, 36% said no and 29% said it was safe.

As to whether they thought it was safe to eat Great Lakes fish, 38% said no and 29% said it was safe.

When asked how important it is to protect the health and water quality of the Great Lakes, 90% said it was important. This feeling is growing in intensity according to the results of two previous surveys in 2018 (88%) and 2015 (85%).

The poll found that a growing number of people – 35% – believe federal governments should be responsible for the health of the Great Lakes. 29% think we all share responsibility.

Asked about the importance of the role of individuals or households in protecting lakes, 84% said it was important. This is up from 78% in 2015.

When asked what they would do to protect the lakes, 86% said they would be careful what they dump into the sewers. 78% said they would conserve water. 76% said they would reduce their use of disposable plastics.

They were much less likely to sign a petition (45%), join a local watershed group, volunteer or donate money (26%), or attend a public meeting hosted by the government or other group (20%)

When asked about the negative impacts on the lakes, people cited algal blooms as a major concern. Next are invasive species, sewer runoff, flooding and climate change.

The report is submitted to the International Joint Commission, made up of appointees from the United States and Canada. It was created by treaty to help resolve disputes and manage projects in the Great Lakes.

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