According to the Second Binational Great Lakes Basin Poll, “An overwhelming majority of survey respondents (88%) feel it is important to protect the Great Lakes,” and this number is up by 3 percent from the first poll conducted two years ago.
It is clear that people who live in the Great Lakes basin have a great appreciation for these waters. However, understanding why they are willing to protect them is also important, both for the future of the lakes and our relationship with them. Through the Watermark Project, we can begin to learn why people care about the Great Lakes as much as they do.
The Watermark Project is a community effort to collect and archive true stories about the ways people interact with water. The International Joint Commission is a partner.
A “Watermark” is a story about a waterbody that a person has a meaningful connection to and how they made that connection. These stories help us to recognize our dependence on water and highlight water’s influence on our culture. These stories can help protect the waterbodies people care about by recording how we use and interact with them.
For Susan Schaeffer, Lake Ontario is a reminder of everything that is available to those that live on the Great Lakes, including the water we drink. Schaeffer sees this in Toronto Harbour, and the vital role it has to play in Toronto, sustaining and providing for the city. She comments that those living by the Great Lakes have a certain amount of responsibility in taking care of this incredible, accessible resource.
Carrie Ginou recognizes the beauty of the Great Lakes. Ginou discusses how the sheer amount of freshwater in one place is an incredible natural wonder. The impact of this was highlighted for her by the incredible beauty of Lake Superior that she saw in her first glimpse of the lake. It inspired her and continues to inspire her.
Patricia Corcoran remembers the past and how the Great Lakes used to be. Corcoran is concerned about the increasing amounts of plastic pollution and the effect it is having on Lake Huron. She says it’s important to protect the lake that she grew up next to because it was, and is, her home.