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Binational Poll Of Great Lakes Residents Shows Potential Need To Boost Water Literacy

Jul 11, 2018 05:02PM ● Published by Editor

Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Lake Michigan is seen from the Mackinac Bridge in Mackinaw City, Mich. Carlos Osorio/AP Photo

By Chuck Quirmbach of Wisconsin Public Radio - July 10, 2018

A binational poll of people in the Great Lakes region found a high number of people want to protect the waters, but many aren't sure how.

The poll was sponsored by the International Joint Commission, which advises the United States and Canadian governments on Great Lakes issues.

One finding of the poll is that 88 percent of those asked feel it's essential to protect the lakes, but when prompted to name significant problems, "Don't Know" got the highest result, 24 percent.

Mark Mattson of the IJC's Great Lakes Water Quality Board said there's a knowledge gap.  

"People seem to care deeply about the Great Lakes. They're concerned about waste going into the Lakes. But generally speaking, there's still a lack of knowledge about what exactly they need to do about it," he said.

Mattson calls for getting more people connected to the Lakes and building what he calls "water literacy."

In another result from the poll, a slight majority indicated they want more regulations to protect the Great Lakes. The survey also found most people would be willing to pay more money for some consumer products, if the lakes would be better protected. 

Mattson says those results are good news.  

"The figures reaffirm that those polled hold the lakes and their health in high regard, especially if they're willing to pay more to ensure their protection," Mattson said, adding that the number of people wanting more regulations rose seven percentage points from an IJC poll done three years ago.

The 2018 telephone survey was done in January and surveyed 4,250 people. About 300 were from Wisconsin.

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