The enormous size of the Great Lakes water system is very awe-inspiring. They consist of five lakes that include: Lake Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario. Their channels allow the lakes to be connected to make it the largest fresh water system in the world.
These lakes hold approximately 23,000 km3 (5,500 cu. mi.) of water. They cover more than 94, 000 square miles (244,000 sq. km.) and hold approximately one-fifth of the earth's fresh water. This is approximately 18 percent of the world's water supply.
The channels that connect the Great Lakes include:
The St. Mary's River: A 60-mile waterway that flows from Lake Superior down to Lake Huron.
The St. Clair and Detroit River An 89 mile long channel connecting Lake Huron with Lake Erie.
Niagara River: A 35-mile long river that connects Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
The water from these lakes flows from Lake Ontario to the St. Lawrence River and then flows about 1000 miles to the Atlantic Ocean.
Facts about The Great Lakes include:
Lake Erie: This Lake contains 17 urban areas and agricultural practices are a prominent industry. The area of the lake is about 26,000 km2. (10,000 square miles) It is the shallowest of the five Great Lakes.
Lake Ontario: This Lake is the smallest of the Great Lakes. Major urban areas such as Hamilton and Toronto are located along its shores. The lake's name originates from Ontario, a Huron word that means "great lake." Because Lake Ontario is at the bottom-end of the Great Lakes, it is affected by the human activities throughout the Lake Michigan, Superior, Huron, and Erie basins.
Lake Michigan: Lake Michigan is the second largest Great Lake. It contains the Milwaukee and Chicago areas. This area has approximately 8 million people. Lake Michigan is the only Great Lake entirely within the borders of the United States.
Lake Huron: Many Canadians and Americans own cottages along Lake Huron's shores. It contains the Flint and Saginaw-Bay City areas. The Saginaw River basin is farmed and Saginaw Bay has an industrious fishery.
Lake Superior: This is the largest, deepest, and coldest lake of the Great Lakes. Much of the areas in the basin are forested. Water contains minimal pollutants because there is little agriculture.
Only the polar ice caps contain more fresh water than The Great Lakes. These lakes are an important and delicate ecosystem. Not only do they affect human life because of industrial transportation, fishery industry, and agriculture, they affect wildlife and the climate. The lakes were once exploited for financial gain but now conservationists are acknowledging the crucial role they play in maintaining environmental balance. Measures that properly balance the Lakes and their ecosystems are now being implemented to ensure they are not destroyed by pollution and industrialization.
Because The Lakes are surrounded by two Countries, collaboration is needed to protect the lakes from human damage. Protection of the lakes requires respecting and treating the Great Lakes as an important and vital positive contributor to the planet so we can promote a healthy and sustainable environment.