A Decline in Lake Michigan’s Water Quality and the Collaborative Restoration Effort to restore, protect and sustain it through the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

First Advisor

Steffen Schmidt

Second Advisor

Richard E. Spieler


The Great Lakes provide many benefits to millions of Americans, including fresh drinking water, a food supply, transportation, and several recreational and commercial values. Unfortunately, the water quality of the Great Lakes and Lake Michigan in particular, is declining due to a number of environmental stressors. Many of these stressors include: point and non-point sources of pollution, nearly 200 invasive species disrupting the food web and the region’s ecosystem, toxin accumulation, and a large quantity of habitat loss due to coastal development. Without an initiative for restoration, this ecosystem will continue to decline. A restoration and management plan must be used to stop the decline and restore the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration was formed to do just that: restore, protect and sustain the lakes of the Great Lakes region. The GLRC has implemented several high priority goals to jump start the collaborative restoration process, addressing aquatic invasive species, toxic pollutants, habitat and wetland loss, and beach and coastal health for the public. The initiatives established several short-term and long-term goals to achieve success in each of these areas. This paper discusses the decline in Lake Michigan’s water quality and the collaborative restoration efforts as influenced by the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration to restore, protect and sustain this once thriving ecosystem.

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