Tapping the Great Lakes

Tapping the Great Lakes

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The Great Lakes contain 20 percent of the world’s surface fresh water supply. The value of the five lakes, which provide drinking water to more than 40 million people, is increasing as water across the globe becomes threatened by climate change and pollution.

But who owns the water?

In the new half-hour documentary called Tapping the Great Lakes, Detroit Public TV‘s Great Lakes Bureau takes a deep dive into several methods of water withdrawal and their impact on the Great Lakes.

First, we look at Nestle, a company that withdraws millions of gallons of water from aquifers near Lake Michigan, bottles it, and sells it in the U.S. Then, we research the case of Waukesha, Wisconsin, and ask how and why a city outside the Great Lakes Basin has been granted the right to use Lake Michigan water for its drinking water supply.

Who’s watching over Great Lakes water? Are the laws strong enough to protect the region’s drinking water supply? Should global corporations have the right to use Great Lakes water to make big profits? What industries are allowed to use massive amounts of water? Are aquifers being depleted by certain practices, or is the groundwater able to replenish itself?

Can the Great Lakes survive continued attempts to diminish their water supply?

To answer those questions, Detroit Public TV’s Great Lakes Bureau travelled throughout the Great Lakes Region interviewing citizens, business leaders, scientists, water experts, tribal leaders, lawmakers and environmental activists to explore landmark decisions and controversial practices that could set a precedent for the future use of Great Lakes Water.

Producer: Matt Stinson


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Tapping the Great Lakes was funded by:

Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, Consumers Energy Foundation, The Richard C. Devereaux Foundation, Eve & Jerry Jung, The Polk Family Fund, Timothy Wadhams, Americana Foundation, The Carver Family, Paul R. Dimond, Amherst & Janeth Turner, Bruce Wallace & Susie Cannell, Phillip Roos, Mary Quilling, Tony Infante.