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The Great Lakes, what are the Great Lakes? They are Lakes Superior, Michigan,
Huron, Ontario, and Erie. They are considered to be the largest group of lakes containing
fresh-water in the world. They make up the most important inland waterway in North
America. These Great Lakes were the main route used by early explorers and settlers of
The Northwest Territory. Later on, because the transportation offered was so cheap by
The Great Lakes, it turned this territory into one of the most important industrial areas
in the United States. Of the five lakes, Lake Michigan lies entirely with the U.S. while
the other four lakes are shared between Canada and the States.
Despite its long history, there have been many factors which have contributed to
the amount of pollution in the Great Lakes, thus leading to contamination of the Great
Lakes. It is quite unknown when the exact time or point of pollution started to fill the
Great Lakes. But at the time, it was guessed that if the Great Lakes were
Contaminated, the effects of the pollution would span across many generations affecting
Millions of people. Yet harm unto people from pollution was not the only major concern,
the affects of pollution unto plants and animals were a big concern. The earliest forms of
pollution were different from the forms of pollution of today. Documented pollution in
the Great Lakes began in the early 1900 s. Factors such as tree cutting, and pieces of
unwanted wood washed away by wind and rain caused small waterways to become
clogged. Dumping sawdust into the Lakes, caused even more clogging in the small
waterways. This resulted in fish and other animals that inhabited the area to begin
ingesting the debris, which caused a decrease in animal populations.
As urbanization and industrialization began to occur, water quality was
decreasing very quickly. The water would be contaminated with bacteria, remaining
debris, etc. The pollution led to many serious problems. Problems such as bacteria had
somehow entered into the drinking water supply. As time passed, the pollution situation
worsened. In 1920, PCB s were used and in 1940, DDT was introduced. These
substances along with other substances caused the pollution to spread into the soil that
had been watered through irragation. This led to animals drinking the contaminated water
from the Lakes, as well as plants dying because of the water they depended on were
contaminated. In 1950, Lake Erie was noticed as the first lake suffering from lake wide
pollution. Not until 1965, was when public outcry was heard by the government. The
government decided to respond by allocating more money for pollution research and
imposing laws to regulate the amount of dumping toxins into the water. Along with the
money, the government also aided in building sewage treatment plants throughout the
area. Presently, the Great Lakes are still suffering from the effects of pollution
yet however, I strongly feel that Canada as well as the United States have made
positive steps in cleaning the Great Lakes which have shown positive results thus far.
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