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Great Lakes Facts


The Great Lakes and their river systems are more vital to our existence than most people fully recognize and appreciate. So I thought I would share just a few interesting facts for your personal reading pleasure!

  • Approximately 20,000 years ago the climate warmed, the Laurentide ice sheet retreated and the melting glacier filled the basins forming the Great Lakes


  • The Great Lakes hold approximately 90% of the freshwater in the United States and approximately 20% of the entire world’s freshwater supply

  • The five Great Lakes span a total area of 94,600 miles and are all connected by a variety of lakes and rivers, making them the largest freshwater system in the world

  • There are approximately 40 million residents of the U.S. and Canada that depend on our Great Lakes system for clean drinking water


  • More than 200 million tons of cargo pass through our Great Lakes waters per year


  • The Great Lakes touch eight different states; Michigan is the only state that touches four of the five Great Lakes; and Lake Michigan is the only Great Lake that does not touch Canada


  • The Great Lakes ecoregion contains a variety of natural habitats including aquatic, forest, marsh, wetland and dune ecosystems that support more than 3,500 species of plants and animals


  • Agriculture, commercial and sport fishing, recreation, tourism, manufacturing and shipping are dependent upon our waterways and are critically important to millions, as they create jobs and provide goods and services

The Water Cycle

Hydrologic (Water) Cycle.jpg
Hydrologic (Water) Cycle.jpg

Photo credit: National Weather Service

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