The Great Lakes and Your Health

Containing nearly a quarter of the world's fresh surface water, the Great Lakes provide us with endless benefits! More than 80% of Ontarians get their drinking water from lakes Superior, Huron, Erie, and Ontario. In addition, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River ecosystem purifies our water and air, breaks down our wastes, provides food sources and recreation opportunities, reduces the risks of flood damage, and helps moderate extreme weather.

The State of our Great Lakes

According to Ontario's Great Lakes Strategy, many scientists have warned that the Great Lakes are at a "tipping point" of irreversible decline. The combined impacts of many pressures are hurting the Great Lakes' ability to naturally adapt to changes and stresses. Some of the challenges that are currently facing the Great Lakes include:


  • Growth and development
  • Natural Heritage loss
    (e.g. wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat)
  • Aquatic Invasive Species
    (e.g. zebra and quagga mussels)
  • Climate Change impacts
  • Changing water levels
  • Increased algae growth
  • Use of 'newer' chemicals (such as flame retardants and pharmaceuticals)

info lakes

Did You know?

  • If the Great Lakes Region (Ontario, Quebec, and the Great Lakes States) was a country, it would be the world's fourth largest economy.
  • There are over 4000 species of fish, plants, and wildlife in the Great Lakes Basin.
  • The Great Lakes contain nearly 20% of the fresh surface water on the planet.
  • In 2010, Ontario saw over 73 million tourist visits in the Great Lakes Region with estimated spending of $12.3 billion.

Learn More

To learn more about how the Great Lakes impact our health check out these great resources:


Back to Nature Network Canadian Mental Health Association Ducks Unlimited Ecohealth Ontario Ecoschools Forests Ontario Hike Ontario

Kids in the Woods Initiative LEAF Ontario Childrens Outdoor Charter Ontario Headwaters Ontario Nature Traversing Urban Poling York Region

conservation ontario Conservation Ontario
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