Mayors talk Great Lakes

Fresh water is one of the world’s most precious resources, and The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative meeting in Marquette this week aims to protect those bodies of water. Today marked the second day of the meeting. More than 50 Mayors and representatives from communities all along the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence are in Marquette to discuss how to best protect the biggest asset to these communities.

“We all tap into it for our drinking water, for municipalities.” The Mayor of Leamington Ontario, John Paterson says, “It’s the major shipping channel into the heart of our countries…sports fishing… I mean just keep going on…tourism…everything, I mean, it’s a multi–billion dollar resource.”

Executive Director of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative David Ullrich said, “What we try to do is focus on some of the most difficult issues we have on the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence. And see what we can do as mayors and cities to advance the long term sustainability, protection, restoration of this fabulous resource.”

Besides playing host to this year’s event, Marquette also provides a strong model.

Ullrich added, “Marquette has provided an excellent example of how to deal with economic development and protection of the environment at the same time. The work that the Superior Watershed Partnership did with Rio Tinto in the community to create a monitoring program to assure the safety of Lake Superior and the rivers in this area is absolutely fabulous.”

One of the original founders of the group and former Mayor of Chicago Richard M. Daley gave the keynote speech this morning. The conference runs through tomorrow.