Experts identify most serious Great Lakes problems

What is the most serious problem facing the Great Lakes: Is it invasive species, like zebra and quagga mussels, water withdrawals, climate change or non-point source pollution?

A team of experts took a stab at this issue as part of a project called the Great Lakes Environmental Assessment and Mapping project. They concluded that zebra and quagga mussels are the biggest problem in the Great Lakes.

J. David Allan, a professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources & Environment, presented the findings Thursday at the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition conference in Detroit.

Water use and water withdrawals isn’t much of problem within the Great Lakes basin, according to the study.

Here is the experts’ list of the most serious problems facing the lakes, in order of importance:

Invasive mussels, quagga and zebra mussels.

Risk of new invasive species from ships’ ballast water tanks.

Coastal development.

Non-point source pollution, particularly phosphorus, which contributes to toxic algae blooms.

Invasive fish, such as the round goby.

Climate change causing warmer temperatures in the Great Lakes basin.

Climate change affecting water levels.

Sea lamprey.

Sediment flowing into the lake from non-point sources.

Learn more, and see some amazing graphics at



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