Assignment 3.1: Determining Causes and Effects – Draft Version
Known as the Laurentian Great Lakes for its connection to the St. Lawrence River, the lakes combined make up nearly 20 percent of the world's fresh water (Latham, Wright, & Tsang, n.d.) Lakes Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario, and Superior are 5 lakes that provide food, jobs, and recreation to the surrounding regions reaching into two countries. The New York Times (2010) also estimate more than 30 million people are the recipient of potable water from the lakes. With over 3.2 million harvestable fish worth an estimated 4.8 million dollars, Lake Huron is important to the fishing industry. According to ...view middle of the document...
A major cause of the pollution stems from years of abuse by commercial industries. Originally, many did not understand the effects of dumping waste into water sources. There was no understanding of what various chemicals would do to the food source within the lakes and ultimately the environment. The lakes were used as a dumping ground in the hopes that the water would dilute any waste and eventually get rid of it. This practice continued for decades and only began to slow down as the idea of environmental conservation spread. A study done by the University of Michigan (Latham et al., n.d.) points out The Clean Water Act of 1972 was the first true governmental attempt at cleaning up water sources and keeping them clean. In some instances, damage had already been done to both the lake and its inhabitants. Riley’s (2008) report documenting the complete extirpation of some fish and the diminishing presence of lake sturgeon supports this.
These point-source pollutants have provided some of the most destructive effects on Lake Huron. The source of this type of pollution has been verified in most instances. Point source pollution is traceable back to a delivery point such as the exit point of a sewer pipe from an industrial plant. (Latham, n.d.) Fish and wildlife have been on a steady decline in both presence and health due to poisoning from harsh pollutants. The Great Lake Information Network (n.d.) website details some of the types of waste such as deadly mercury, fecal matter, pesticides, and insecticides. An upward and negative chain reaction has ensued affecting aquatic life, wildlife, regional industries, and humans.
Though much of the damage has been caused by a poisonous injection of materials into the water, an unlikely source is also the culprit for the decline of Lake Huron's benefits. Aquatic life has played a hand in negatively affecting the environment and region as a whole. Sixteen species of fish have been introduced into Lake Huron (McCrimmon, 2002.) Though some have been intentional releases to help with the local fishing industry, not all have. One of the most problematic fish is the predatory sea lamprey. Accidently introduced via canals, the trout industry suffered greatly due to the arrival of the sea lamprey. Biological pollutants, like the sea lamprey which seems benign, can often be a large danger if not properly controlled in an environmentally safe manner.
The zebra mussel, a non-indigenous aquatic life, has also posed a problem for the environment. The filter-feeding zebra mussel was introduced as it drained into the lake from the ballast water of transatlantic ships. This point-source pollutant has provided some of the most destructive effects to the Lake Huron water environment. McCrimmon (2002) explains how their normal eating habits have changed the habitat where large groups settle. With other fish fighting for food with indigenous freshwater inhabitants, long standing fisheries have...