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Healthy Waters, Strong Economy: The Benefits of Restoring the Great Lakes Ecosystem

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Publication Date: September 2007

Publisher(s): The Brookings Institution

Author(s): John C. Austin; Soren Anderson; Paul N. Courant; Robert E. Litan


Special Collection: The Joyce Foundation

Topic: Environment (Land resources and use)
Environment (Water, waterways, and water management)
Environment (Environmental policy)

Keywords: surface freshwater; commercial transportation; restoration strategy

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


The Great Lakes are one of America’s most important natural features -- accounting for 90 percent of the United States’ and 20 percent of the world’s surface fresh water. They also directly impact the lives of the roughly 35 million people who live in the cities, states, and Canadian provinces surrounding them by providing drinking water, recreation, commercial transportation,
and other tangible and intangible quality of life benefits.

This report summarizes the major findings of a more in-depth study—Developing
America’s North Coast: A Benefit Cost Analysis of a Great Lakes Infrastructure
Program—of the benefits and costs of the federal-state Great Lakes Regional Collaboration
(GLRC). It outlines the major elements of the restoration strategy and highlights the economic benefits of its implementation. It concludes by discussing the policy implications of its analysis and asks federal and state policy makers to act on its recommendations.