by Jill Ryan
I had the opportunity to speak to a group of concerned citizens recently about water withdrawals from the Great Lakes Basin, and their local and Basin-wide impacts. As I prepared for the forum and discussed the issue, I was again reminded that, as citizens living in the Great Lakes Basin, we all have a stewardship role to play in safeguarding the outstanding water resources in the Basin in which we live.
This stewardship involves protection of water resources at two levels: first, caring for the water resources in the local communities in which we live; and second, being aware of the impacts that our uses (and the uses of others locally) have on our neighbors throughout the Basin. With the Great Lakes Basin containing nearly 20% of the available freshwater in the world, our efforts to protect, restore, and maintain these wonderful resources for future generations is of great importance.
Our roles as stewards of these resources include preventing contamination by toxic substances and invasion by exotic species, maintaining water-purifying wetlands and free-flowing rivers, and many more. In addition, we need to be stewards of water use, conserving water in our own lives, considering and asking our regulators to consider the long-term impacts of any proposals for water withdrawal from the Basin as well as water uses within the Basin. We can choose to leave a legacy of clean, fresh, productive aquatic systems in the Great Lakes Basin through our personal and organizational stewardship activities, and by encouraging others, including regulators and decision-makers, to do the same.
Stewardship: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.
Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary.