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What's New | Overview | General Resources | Population | Related Resources

 
What's New
Embracing the lake: City officials work to increase lake accessibility, solve challenges
The Morning Journal (7/7)
When walking the shoreline of Lake Erie, one can instantly notice the integral role the lake plays in the lives of those residing in residential areas along the water.

Niagara Falls, Ontario: Massive sand sculptures commemorate War of 1812 anniversary in new Niagara Falls exhibit
The Cleveland Plain Dealer (6/11)
Inside the V2 Niagara gallery in Niagara Falls, Ontario, the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 is commemorated by 25 larger-than-life sculptures of sand that depict key figures and scenes from the war.

Biologist Jim Johnson retiring from Michigan DNR Fisheries
The Alpena News (6/10)
After 42 years of studying many kinds of fish, Department of Natural Resources Fisheries research biologist Jim Johnson is retiring June 20.

Teen ready to challenge Lake Ontario
The St. Catharines Standard (6/2)
A teen aims to follow in her mother's footsteps and would be the youngest to swim across Lake Ontario.

Great Lakes Aquarium's new otter named
Northlands News Center (5/27)
The newest residents at the Great Lakes Aquarium now have names. Of the nearly 5,000 votes cast, 40 percent chose to name the Aquarium's otter ambassadors Agate and Ore.

Watch huge bank of fog spread over Lake Michigan
MLive (5/22)
Impressive video footage of a thick bank of fog that eventually descended over Lake Michigan in Holland, Mich., was captured by a fisherman this week.

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Overview
Great Lakes Basin population figures vary because of different methodologies used to sort out metropolitan and urban county populations that overlap the hydrologic boundary. A reasonable estimate for 1991 is 33.4 million people for the combined Canadian and U.S. Basin populations. This table shows the population for the individual Great Lakes basins.
 
One area of the Great Lakes Basin that presents special problems for determining Basin population is in the Chicago metropolitan area where substantial alteration of the natural hydrologic basin and direction of water flow has occurred. As a water quality measure, Lake Michigan water is diverted through the Illinois waterway at a long-term average rate of 3,200 cubic feet per second. This diversion, which has been in effect since 1848 along with a more recent one affecting the Calumet River, has converted 673 square miles of original Lake Michigan watershed into part of the Illinois River-Mississippi River drainage basin. By using the original Lake Michigan basin boundary rather than the present "man-made" one which demarks a drainage area only 11 percent of its former size, the population of the Lake Michigan basin is increased by nearly 3 million persons, almost all residing in Cook county.
 
In recent years, compared with its earlier heyday, the Great Lakes Basin population has seen very little growth relative to the rest of the U.S. and Canada. For example, while the combined population of the U.S. and Canada grew by 22% from 1970 to 1990, rising from 225 million to 275 million, the binational population of the Great Lakes Basin grew by less than 1%. This disparity in population growth rates indicates a redistribution in regional economic activity with older, industrialized regions, such as the Basin, losing population in favor of newer, expanding regions. In the U.S. this has taken the form of people relocating to the South and Southwest as the rapid growth of these economies has become a magnet for migration. Climate-influenced retirement moves have added to the outbound numbers.
 
Both sides of the border reflect similar and divergent population trends. Ontario, with more than a third of Canada's population, has been gaining population nearly twice as fast as the Great Lakes states but its rate of growth is also slowing. By 1990, the Great Lakes States' population increased by only 1.7% since 1970 whereas Ontario's 1991 population increased by nearly a third or 31% from 1971. Both Canada and the United States are experiencing similar age structure changes as the post-war baby boom bulge advances. A new baby boom is likely to kick in by the end of the 21st century's first decade when births are expected to increase steadily. Fertility patterns by race and ethnicity are expected to remain varied.

 
References: A Changing Great Lakes Economy: Economic and Environmental Linkages, State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference Background Paper, 1995, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Great Lakes Commission

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General Resources
Human Health and the Great Lakes
U.S. EPA Region 5 / Great Lakes Commission
Featuring information on hot topics like drinking water and fish consumption, Human Health and the Great Lakes provides complete and up-to-date information about issues of human health in the Great Lakes region. Also contains a comprehensive glossary of Great Lakes terms and several links to related online resources. Based on data taken from the EPA's Lakewide Management Plan (LaMP) studies.

Activist Toolkit
Michigan Land Use Institute
The MLUI has built a toolkit that grassroots activists can use to become more effective in the public policy debate. Included are sample letters, organizing tips, email addresses of key state regulators and lawmakers, and useful Web sites.

People and the Great Lakes
Great Lakes Atlas, Environment Canada and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The Great Lakes Atlas is an excellent resource and includes a chapter on people and their activities in the Great Lakes region, including an overview of the native people, early settlement and development.

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Populations of the Great Lakes Basin (2000-2001)
Jurisdiction:SuperiorHuronMichiganErieOntarioTotals
U.S. States
Illinois* NANA2,849,460NANA2,849,460
Indiana* NANA1,188,385NANA1,188,385
Michigan* 141,7672,651,0453,430,3583,699,653NA 9,922,823
Minnesota* 254,714NANANANA254,714
New York* NANANA1,173,9702,907,919 4,081,889
Ohio* NANANA2,889,100NA2,889,100
Pennsylvania* NANANA371,209NA371,209
Wisconsin* 123,247NA2,352,417NANA 2,475,664
U.S. Total* 519,728 2,651,045 9,820,620 8,133,932 2,907,919 24,033,244
CA Total** NA NA NA NA NA 10,000,000
Lake Basin Total NA NA NA NA NA 34,033,244

 
Note:
*U.S. totals are based on 2000 census data.
**Canada total is based on information from the Life of the Lakes: Great Lakes Basin poster published in 2003

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Related Resources
GLIN: Demographics in the Great Lakes Region
GLIN: Human Health Effects of Pollution in the Great Lakes Region
GLIN: Native Peoples of the Great Lakes Region

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Updated: July 23, 2014
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