Is Lake Michigan Really One of the Most Polluted in America?
A recent conversation led me down a confusing rabbit hole about Lake Michigan's pollution level.
My partner and I were wanting to visit a local lake but, wanted to make sure that bacteria levels weren't elevated and so on. That led my partner to say, "I wonder what the most polluted lake in Michigan is."
It was a question I thought would have a very clear and easy answer. But, as usual, that wasn't the case.
Most Polluted Lake in Michigan
A blog from a-z-animals.com, which was apparently updated in 2023, claims that Lake Michigan is one of the most polluted lakes in America, not just Michigan.
Their list, which includes 10 lakes across the country, lists both Lake Michigan and Lake Erie as the 3rd and 4th most polluted lakes. But, that's a bit difficult to confirm.
A-z-animals.com's blurb under their Lake Michigan ranking reads,
In 1968, the Grand Rapids Press published an article regarding the likelihood and consequences of Lake Michigan’s “death,” discussing how the 30 million residents of the Great Lakes Basin would have to say goodbye to fishing, swimming, and summer cottages. Instead of clean drinking water and beautiful beaches, rotting algae, dead fish, and motor oil slime would take their place. The federal government presented new restrictions and laws that will control state industries and waters surrounding and potentially polluting the lake.
That's it. A reference to a 1968 article and a vague sentence about restrictions presented by the federal government. No current pollution levels. No scientific data to back it up.
In fact, when I went to double-check this information, I was met with article after article from different websites all citing this one blog from a-z-animals.com as their source.
However, finding current pollution levels for the lake is surprisingly difficult. Probably because there are different kinds of pollution. There's fertilizer runoff, plastic waste pollution, chemical pollution, and more. Check out this video from ABC 7 Chicago to gain a better understanding of the pollution threatening the Great Lakes:
I did find a website that measures the water quality conditions of major water basins in and around the Great Lakes. You can find it here.
When I think of water pollution, I immediately have images of half-sunken oil drums, dead fish, and an overall unnatural green color in the water. But, that's not always the case. Even plastics sitting on the beach pose a threat to our incredible waterways.
Find out how you can help with pollution in the Great Lakes, like joining a group cleaning up beaches, at greatlakes.org.
Remember, even with the claim that Lake Michigan is one of the most polluted, I've yet to see anything telling us, the locals, to stay out of the water.
With that in mind, here's a list of watercraft rentals you can find on Lake Michigan:
10 Jet Ski & Boat Rentals on Lake Michigan
LOOK: Lake Michigan Beach Named One of the Best 'Secret' Beaches in U.S.