Great Lakes beset by myriad threats

This weekend, The Detroit News published a massive series on the latest threats facing the Great Lakes — and we mean massive: close to 30 articles. The lakes, which hold a fifth of the world’s freshwater, were once emblematic of America’s environmental malaise, choked with algae and pollutants. While water quality has improved, a panoply of new threats now confront the lakes: invasive species, unregulated growth in surrounding areas, agricultural and sewer runoff, nearby mines, states and bottled-water companies anxious to siphon off water, an influx of new toxins (and female hormones), mercury pollution, pressure to expand shipping channels, and last but not least, global warming. While the feds spent $1.7 billion to help the lakes between 1992 and 2004, momentum is now building behind a $20 billion package, first recommended by a task force convened by President Bush to study the lakes. If passed, it would be one of the most expansive pieces of environmental legislation in U.S. history.