Apr 01, 2015

Rotary Panel Discusses Water Quality in the Great Lakes

Panel of experts met to raise awareness about the importance of protecting the Great Lakes and addressing the global water crisis

Rotary International Great Lakes water quality Goose Island Evanston

Evanston, Ill.-based Rotary Intl., an international humanitarian service organization, hosted a free public panel discussion titled "Tap Into Lake Michigan: A Local Perspective on the Global Water Crisis," on March 31 to raise awareness about the importance of water conservation, protecting our Great Lakes and the ways to address the global water crisis.

The panel moderator, Debra Shore, commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, spoke about Chicago’s water history and the important role Lake Michigan plays in the city.

Cameron Davis, senior adviser to the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, discussed the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and explained how bipartisan support of the initiative is key in protecting the lakes from pollutants and invasive species.

Andy Stuart, regional vice president of Cumulus Media for Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan and president-elect of the Rotary Club of Toledo, Ohio, gave attendees a glimpse into the August 2014 algal bloom in Lake Erie that left Toledo without drinking water for days. Stuart identified key steps the Rotary Club is taking to address the water crisis.

Ian Hughes, assistant brewery manager of Goose Island Beer Co., explained the importance of Lake Michigan in the brewing process. Hughes explained that beer itself is 90% water, and the production process requires approximately 7 gal of water for every gallon of beer produced. He also outlined the initiatives the brewery is taking to increase water efficiency and reduce waste.

With the exception of the polar ice caps, the Great Lakes system is the largest source of freshwater in the world. Lake Michigan is the largest public drinking water supply in Illinois, serving nearly 6.6 million people who use close to 1 billion gal of water each day.

Contamination and invasive species are threatening the water quality of the Great Lakes, putting local businesses and public health at risk. Globally, the United Nations estimates that 783 million people worldwide still do not have access to improved drinking water, and 2.5 billion people currently lack access to sanitation.