LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — An international partnership over the last 35 years makes economic sense and revitalizes communities.
The United States and Canada have invested over $22.8 billion over the last 35 years to restore Areas of Concern throughout the Great Lakes, according to a study published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research.
The study found that the money has been well-spent with investments in cleanups helping revitalize communities with over a 3 to 1 return on investment. Basically, for every $1 spent, the communities received $3 worth of benefits.
One of the authors of the study Gail Krantzberg of McMaster University says that investing in pollution prevention will avoid substantial future cleanups in the long run.
“These are unprecedented collaborations of international significance, where creative, shared responsibilities stimulate and sustain advances in the clean-up of local waterways, raise public awareness of individuals’ responsibilities, create jobs for a green future, and unite a community around a shared purpose, which make the lakes truly great,” said Krantzberg, a professor at McMaster University who specializes in Great Lakes science, policy, and governance.
The study traced the history of the Great Lakes Remedial Action Plan program from when it started in 1985 as well as identifying what has been accomplished and learned since that time.
Remedial Action Plans being part of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement in 1987 gave legitimacy to cleanup efforts in Areas of Concern.
Paul Sibley, president of the International Association for Great Lakes Research, said the study showed clearly how a strong foundation of federal environmental laws, combined with locally-led cleanup processes, can achieve restoration of the most polluted areas of the Great Lakes and catalyze waterfront community revitalization.
“Lessons learned from this research will be helpful to all groups working to clean up polluted waterways and revitalize communities,” Sibley said.
This includes the cleanup efforts at 43 Areas of Concern which focused networks of community members on plans that took 10 to 15 years to create.
Major funding for remedial and restorative actions was not provided in the United States until the enactment of the Great Lakes Legacy Act in 2002 and the establishment of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in 2010.
The Great Lakes are an unparalleled natural resource that can be seen from space and represents one-fifth of the standing freshwater on the Earth’s surface.