thumbnail

The importance of ground water in the Great Lakes Region

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2000-4008

By:
, , , , and

Links

Abstract

Ground water is a major natural resource in the Great Lakes Region that helps link the Great Lakes and their watershed. This linkage needs to be more fully understood and quantified before society can address some of the important water-resources issues in the Great Lakes.

 

The Great Lakes constitute the largest concentration of unfrozen fresh surface water in the western hemisphere—about 5,440 mi3. Because the quantity of water in the lakes is so large, ground water in the Great Lakes Basin is often overlooked when evaluating the hydrology of the region. Ground water, however, is more important to the hydrology of the Great Lakes and to the health of ecosystems in the watershed than is generally recognized.

Although more than 1,000 mi3 of ground water are stored in the basin—a volume of water that is approximately equal to that of Lake Michigan—development of the groundwater resource must be carefully planned. Development of the ground-water resource removes water from storage and alters the paths of ground-water flow. Ground water that normally discharges to streams, lakes, and wetlands can be captured by pumping (the most common form of development), which may deplete or reduce inflows to the Great Lakes.

Ground water is important to ecosystems in the Great Lakes Region because it is, in effect, a large, subsurface reservoir from which water is released slowly to provide a reliable minimum level of water flow to streams, lakes, and wetlands. Ground-water discharge to streams generally provides good quality water that, in turn, promotes habitat for aquatic animals and sustains aquatic plants during periods of low precipitation. Because of the slow movement of ground water, the effects of surface activities on ground-water flow and quality can take years to manifest themselves. As a result, issues relative to ground water are often seemingly less dire than issues related to surface water alone.

Ground water is a major natural resource in the Great Lakes Region that helps link the Great Lakes and their watershed. This linkage needs to be more fully understood and quantified before society can address some of the important water-resources issues in the region.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
The importance of ground water in the Great Lakes Region
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
2000-4008
Year Published:
2000
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
Wisconsin Water Science Center
Description:
iv, 14 p.
Country:
Canada, United States
Other Geospatial:
Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Lake Ontario, Lake Superior
Online Only (Y/N):
N
Additional Online Files (Y/N):
N