Protecting the Great Lakes becomes university project

News and analysis by Dan Telvock, Investigative Post's environmental reporter

The Niagara River and the eastern part of Lake Erie are in this image taken by an Expedition 14 crewmember on the International Space Station.
(Photo courtesy of NASA)

The University at Buffalo announced yesterday that it is teaming up with 20 other universities to create a series of white papers on policy and research priorities to protect the Great Lakes basin.

The team will address how the watershed can be better managed and what the environmental, social, economic and political impacts would be if those management plans were put into effect, according to a release from UB.

Kathryn Friedman, director of cross-border and international research and research professor of law and policy at the UB Regional Institute in the UB School of Architecture and Planning, is the U.S. lead investigator and also serves on the leadership team with academics from Western University, University of Michigan and McMaster University in Ontario. You can read about the Great Lakes Protection project here.

The Great Lakes are the largest group of freshwater lakes and contain 21 percent of the world’s fresh water. Some of the major concerns with the basin today are the introduction of invasive species and how they threaten the ecosystem, global warming and the sinking of the water levels and pollution, in particular combined sewer overflows in which untreated waste flows into local waterways during heavy rain events and system failures.

The Western New York Environmental Alliance released a white paper last month that stated one of the most significant threats to the Great Lakes is combined sewer overflows. The Buffalo Sewer Authority dumps 4 billion gallons of untreated sewage into local waterways each year. Efforts are underway to reduce the overflows using green technology.