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Supporting Water, Ecological, and Transportation Systems in the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem


The North American Great Lakes Basin ecosystem is globally significant. A unique, bi-national Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) between Canada and the United States is the backbone for cooperative efforts within the Basin. The Agreement establishes a basis for implementing a systems approach “to restore and maintain the physical, chemical and biological integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem,”... as...”the interacting components of air, land, water and living organisms, including humans, within the drainage basin” (GLWQA 1987). This paper introduces the interacting systems of the Great Lakes Basin ecosystem. Lessons learned and the shortfalls of approaches that divide an ecosystem into individualized compartments are also summarized. Discussion includes advancements in practices and partnerships to improve ecosystem health. The purpose of this paper is to highlight activities within the Great Lakes Basin and to discuss a systems approach to sustaining multiple economic, community, and environmental benefits.

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