What's at stake?

The Great Lakes, which contain roughly 21% of the world’s fresh surface water and 84% of North America’s surface freshwaterare a dominant part of the physical and cultural heritage of North America. The Great Lakes basin ecosystem, linked downstream with the St. Lawrence River, supports roughly 10% of the U.S. population and more than 30% of the Canadian population, in its combined watersheds which stretch well into significant portions of the states and territories which surround them, including roughly a third of Wisconsin’s rivers. This web of connected lakes, rivers and streams feed the Great Lakes basin, supporting a rich array of biodiverse ecosystems. Unique climate regimes and geology sustain over 3,500 plant and animal species, some of which are found nowhere else on Earth and all of which rely on the stability and long-term health of the lakes to survive.