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Biological Integrity


Aquatic Alien Invasive Species: Living with the Uncertainty of Biological Pollution in the Great Lakes

Creating a Regional Approach: What We Can Do Better

Implement a Great Lakes Biologically Protective Standard

Require Certification of Technology to Achieve the Standard

Require Enhanced Ballast Management Practices for No Ballast on Board (NOBOBs)

Promote Ongoing Regional Cooperation

Develop Measures to Ensure Compliance

Enlist the Assistance of the International Joint Commission


Microbial Contamination

Where are the Pathogens Coming From?

Detecting Pathogens and Assessing Risks

Gaps in Pathogen Detection

The Emergence of New Pathogens

The Walkerton Tragedy: A Lesson for the Great Lakes?

As Population Grows, Water Infrastructure Must Be Updated






Many phenomena threaten the biological integrity of the Great Lakes. We highlight two: the continuing impacts of aquatic alien invasive species and the little-understood threats posed by disease-causing or pathogenic organisms. According to scientists’ best estimates, a new aquatic alien invasive species finds its way into the Great Lakes system about every eight months. The impact of introduced species already in the system, from the sea lamprey to the zebra mussel, serve as harbingers of the economic and environmental costs to come if this crucial threat is not controlled. Similarly, documented surprise outbreaks of gastrointestinal diseases, sometimes with fatal consequences, should serve as a warning that residents of the Great Lakes basin face serious, largely unacknowledged threats from an everyday substance we all tend to assume is safe – the water we depend on for recreation and drinking. Fortunately, options exist to address both of these crucial challenges.