The Alliance for the Great Lakes has been working to protect the lakes and our communities since 1970. Recent successes include:
Advocacy & Leadership
- Reducing plastic pollution: We championed the federal ban on microbeads in personal care products like face wash and toothpaste, preventing billions of the tiny plastic particles from entering the Great Lakes.
- Fighting harmful algal blooms: We won a historic cleanup goal for Lake Erie, which is plagued each year by toxic algal blooms, when the governors of Ohio and Michigan joined the premier of Ontario to commit to a 40% reduction in nutrients into the lake by 2025.
- Preventing water diversions: We advocated for the historic Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact and won significant protections for the lakes in the Compact’s first test, a diversion application by Waukesha, Wisc..
- Informing the federal agenda: Our policy team is a leading voice for Great Lakes protection in Washington, D.C. Each year, we release our federal legislative priorities, covering issues from infrastructure funding to Great Lakes protection programs, and advocate for them throughout the year.
Education & Action
- Adopt-a-Beach: Each year more than 15,000 volunteers clean up beaches on all five Great Lakes. Our volunteers are on the front lines of keeping litter, most of it plastic, out of our lakes. And they collect valuable data on what they find for researchers to use worldwide.
- Great Lakes Voter Toolkit: As a nonpartisan organization, we cannot support or oppose candidates or political parties. But we can educate candidates and voters on Great Lakes issues – and we do. During major election years we release a toolkit designed to give people the information and tools they need to be part of the Great Lakes conversation.
- Alliance Ambassadors: From talks at local civic clubs to setting up a booth at a volunteer fair, nearly 200 trained Ambassadors help us spread the word about Great Lakes issues and how to get involved.
- Great Lakes in My World: Our K-12 educational curriculum has connected nearly 60,000 students to hands-on Great Lakes learning. And our H.O.M.E.School lessons provide Great Lakes activities for kids who are learning at home.
Research & Analysis
- Assessing water affordability: Costs for sewer and drinking water services are rising in communities around the region. We and Ohio Environmental Council commissioned a study assessing the affordability of basic water services for low-income households in the state of Ohio. In short, it’s a challenge for many Ohioans. Now, we’re working to develop policy solutions that protect our water and improve our infrastructure, while not disproportionately impacting the most economically vulnerable.
- Stopping invasive carp: A regional policy leader on invasive species issues, we’ve led the campaign to keep invasive carp out of the Great Lakes for the past decade. We released a groundbreaking report calling for permanent separation of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins to prevent inter-basin transfer of invasive carp and other invasive species. Now we’re working to advance the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s proposed project at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam – the best solution currently available to prevent invasive carp from reaching the lakes.
- Convening peer exchanges for local officials: Climate change is already straining the Great Lakes, and communities facing drinking water and sewer infrastructure issues are being strained even further. We are partnering with cities around the lakes, bringing them together to share the creative ways they are addressing water issues, and working together to find solutions.
Led by Lee Botts, a tireless champion for Lake Michigan, a group of advocates formed the Lake Michigan Federation in 1970. The Federation was instrumental in many of the early Great Lakes protection campaigns.
But each Great Lake depends on the health of the others. And so, in the early 2000s, the organization’s staff and Board of Directors began contemplating how to expand focus beyond just Lake Michigan.
The Lake Michigan Federation was renamed the Alliance for the Great Lakes in 2006. Along with the name change came an expanded vision: to protect and restore the Great Lakes for people and wildlife, forever.
The Alliance for the Great Lakes celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2020.