Great Lakes Water Wars

This event is highly recommended for my GD2 classes. We will be working on the Global Water Crisis > Designing Water’s Future project in October, so this fits right in. Please attend!

Great Lakes Water Wars:
The UMD Center for Freshwater Research and Policy will host 2008 Distinguished Aquatic Speaker, Peter Annin, the director of the Institutes for Journalism and Natural Resources, at 7 pm on Wed., Sept. 24 in the Weber Music Hall. Annin, an environmental journalist, is a former correspondent with Newsweek magazine, and author of The Great Lakes Water Wars.


7 thoughts on “Great Lakes Water Wars

  1. Wednesday, September 24, 2008 I attended Peter Annin’s lecture on his book “The Great Lakes Water Wars”. When first walking into Weber, I really didn’t think it was going to be something that I would enjoy listening to. It ended up being really interesting and informative. He had a slide show presentation behind him the entire time, which helped me be able to follow along. I learned a lot of new things, about the great lakes, that I had never known before. Things like how much the water rises and falls every four-six years. Sure, everyone knows a little about the water, but I found some of the facts to be insane! He started off his presentation talking about the Aral Lake in Uzbekistan. He showed a picture of the lake many years ago and pictures of the lake now, ones that he actually took himself. It was completely dry! Not a single drop of water in sight! All in all, I thought his presentation was very intriguing and he did a great job of making it easy to understand, especially for a person such as me, who doesn’t know very much about sciences or the great lakes in general.


  2. I also went to Peter Annin’s Great Lakes Water Wars lecture because it’s something I’m definitely interested in. A lot of the information he said I’d heard before in other classes (I’m also an environmental studies minor) but some of it I’d forgotten about. Sarah has already mentioned generally what the lecture was about so I’ll just fill you in on some of the specific facts/statistics he mentioned.

    -One billion people on Earth currently lack access to clean drinking water.

    -Only 1% Of the Great Lakes Water Basin is renewable, but we’re currently consuming much less than 1%.

    -People have been diverting water from the Great Lakes since 1825 and there are currently 14 man-made diversions.

    -There’s a compact right now going through congress which will soon be signed by President Bush to outlaw any more diversions (with limited exceptions) of the water in the Great Lakes. The compact was designed in 1998 and will finally be passed and enforced this year.


  3. Basically Laura and Sarah have it down. Peter Annin did make it very easy for visual people, such as us art majors, to understand and keep our attention. He definitely left you interested and wanting to find out more. And now if the subject ever comes up outside of school I will feel a lot less dumb about it now that I can contribute to a scientific conversation. I wish more people our age would have gone and learned more about this.


  4. I also attended Peter Annin’s Great Lakes Water Wars lecture. I went into the lecture not really knowing what to expect since I didn’t know much about the topic. I wasn’t sure how entertaining Peter’s presentation was going to be, but I was pleasantly surprised! Not only did he have a great slide show, like Sarah said, but he also had people get involved in his presentation. At the beginning of his lecture, Peter asked everyone who had been to at least two of the great lakes to stand up; and three and four and so on. I really like that he had people do this. It was a great way for him to connect people with the topic at hand. I really enjoyed going to and learned a lot from his presentation. Most of what I learned has already been said, but I’ll add a couple more facts that caught my attention.

    -2/3rds of the population will have water shortages by the year 2025.

    -The Great Lakes make up 18% of the global fresh surface water.

    -The Illinois Diversion in Chicago, which uses 2.1 billion gallons of water per day, lowered Lakes Michigan and Huron by 2.5 inches.

    -Most environmental experts expect climate change to cause water levels to fall.


  5. Peter Annin had a lot of interesting facts about the water (mentioned above), but one point that really sparked my interest/confused me was the shipment of water-which I think will impact our next project since it involves the issues of sharing, shipment, and consequential pollution.
    -Nova group tried to ship 158 million gallons/year to Asia from great lakes-agreement was made, but before it was carried though the US found out and put an end to it. Changed agreement to only being able to ship out bottled water.
    -At first this made NO sense to me, but then Peter explained that the removal of water wasn’t the main problem with that it was the price/damages of shipping that much water in bulk. Ships with bulk tanks displace more water from passage ways-so money must be spent to deepen them and more water would have to be used. This would greatly affect the economy-significantly raising cost of shipments. However the bottles take up more space and are therefor lighter, displacing less water making the current shipment passages usable and not disturbing economy.
    -They’re still trying to work out a different solution to share water without disturbing waterways or polluting (billions of water bottles)


  6. So I attended the Water Wars lecture in the Weber and I must admit I didn’t really know that this was such an issue. Peter Annin had a lot of very important information relating to other countries or even states trying to get access to the water that is right in our backyard. Luckily enough it seems that our government (as well as Canada’s) are about to pass a legislation that will protect the Great Lakes for sometime in the future. One of the things that I am concerned most about is companies trying to use Lake Superior water for bottled water. Personally I don’t really drink bottled water very much, I don’t see the big difference between bottled water and tap water. My opinion is that it is just wrong to ship our precious water across the country, even across the world. But luckily enough we won’t have to worry about that in the near future thanks people that care like Peter Annin.


  7. Peter Annin did had an awesome presentation. He kept things simple and interesting. I left the lecture wanting to know more about how to preserve our precious water.

    One of the points he touched on that got to me was when he mentioned how, i think in russia, water levels dropped about 75 feet after a short period of time.

    I also came out of the lecture proud of my state. He mentioned that because Minnesota was usually the first one to take action we stepped out of the way to let the other states who are also involved in the Great Lakes war lead in the fight to preserve the great lakes. But, since no one step up MN was the first state to pass the Great Lakes Compact law.

    To learn more about the Great Lakes Compact go to:


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