Researchers from the Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab and other organizations have been gathering samples and data about the Lakes in order to understand the threats to their health. Pollution, lower water levels, and climate change are all showing themselves to be threats, and researchers hope to learn more about their direct impacts.
From Medill Reports Chicago:
"'Every day we hear from coastal communities and our constituents who are being personally affected by climate disruption and climate change,' said Angela Larsen, coastal program manager at Alliance for the Great Lakes, a Chicago-based nonprofit.'Many of the Great Lakes coastal resources and the local economies that depend on them are really at risk due to climate change.'Larsen said her organization is particularly concerned about the periods of both drought and heavy rainfall characteristic of climate change, and lake levels, near record lows, which could result from a variety of factors in addition to climate change.Heavy rainfall is a problem because of the pollution that washes into lakes when urban areas flood. Chicago’s combined sewage overflows – runoff from sewer systems that collect a mix of rainwater, sewage and industrial wastewater - are diverted into Lake Michigan during floods, carrying bacteria, toxic materials and land-based debris. This runoff, combined with warming lake waters, can present health risks for swimmers and ideal conditions for harmful algae growth, Larsen said."
Read the complete article, including additional information about research and environmental concerns for the Great Lakes, at the link above.