- About Us
- What We Do
- Brownfield Redevelopment
- Carbon & Climate Change
- Deconstruction & Reuse
- Energy Efficiency
- Funding & Financing
- Green Building
- Green Business Development Center
- Green Economy & Green Jobs
- Green Events & Destinations
- Green Purchasing
- Pollution Prevention
- Renewable Energy
- Sustainability & Certification
- Urban Agriculture
- Who We Serve
- Learning Center
- Support Delta
- News & Events
What Delta is Doing
Where Do You Want to GO Next?
Water is being called “the new carbon” due to the way in which water quality and availability impacts agriculture and food supply; municipal water management; local recreation and tourism; business development and jobs; ecosystems and habitats; and human health in the future. The Great Lakes are under pressure from contamination, invasive species, overconsumption, development and climate change. Spanning more than 750 miles from west to east, they are especially vulnerable to direct atmospheric pollutants and pollutants from runoff, which the U.S. EPA has identified as the most important remaining uncontrolled source of water pollution.
Since only about 1% of the water on earth is fresh water, there is increasing interest in, and concern about, water conservation. Over-consumption, drought and poor water management have led 36 states to anticipate local, regional, or statewide water shortages by 2013. Competition for fresh water and widespread shortages will require every industry to rethink their approaches to water use in business operations. Water shortages will impact all sectors of the global economy, and water stewardship and water footprinting will become critical issues.
Several high-profile threats including invasive species, industrial activity on the lakeshore, and the 2010 Michigan oil spill have provided the backdrop for the re-negotiation of three key provisions designed to protect the Great Lakes:
• Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement – For the first time in more than two decades, the U.S. and Canada are preparing to update this historic agreement, first adopted by the two countries in 1972 as a way to control pollution and restore/maintain the integrity of the Great Lakes ecosystem.
• Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact – This groundbreaking agreement created water consumption and use guidance and standards for the Great Lakes states, Ontario and Quebec (legally enforceable among the U.S. states). It will outline how the U.S. and Canada manage a number of significant water quality and quantity issues in the years ahead.
• Great Lakes Restoration Initiative – After years of collaboration, this initiative is ready to launch full-scale implementation activities in 2010. Outcome-oriented efforts will target the most significant water quality problems in the region (invasive species, non-point pollution, infrastructure, contaminated sediment).
Voluntary measures to protect water quality and quantity are also on the rise. Municipalities are implementing stormwater management systems, rain gardens, and other measures to avoid summer water scarcity issues. Building managers are retrofitting sinks, toilets and showers with technologies that conserve water and reduce utility bills. And businesses are engaging in ‘green purchasing’ as a water quality strategy.
What Delta is Doing
Delta works with government agencies and stakeholders to design and implement strategies that protect watersheds in the Great Lakes basin and help conserve water resources. Toward this end, Delta is:
• Helping business and industry, municipalities and homeowners conserve water and reduce pollution through sustainability initiatives, green building and LEED certification, and energy efficiency efforts.
• Maintaining an Eco-EMS program and working with companies and industrial facilities in the Great Lakes states to help them comply with local pollution and waste-related regulations and lessen the burden on their local ecosystems.
• Facilitating the Lake Michigan Forum and the Lake Michigan Watershed Academy and have led efforts to restore and protect the integrity of the Lake Michigan ecosystem through collaborative, place-based partnerships.
• Partnering with cities, states and regions that are looking to green their infrastructures and providing solutions to combined sewer overflows, stormwater discharges, and other wet weather water quality problems.
• Addressing water quality and conservation by reducing the toxicity of products produced, used, and disposed of in the Great Lakes region through our Green Purchasing programs: BuyingBetter.org and the West Michigan Green Purchasing Consortium.
To explore other green opportunities, visit our Green Economy Navigator.