Great Lakes & Water Resources
Protecting Water Resources
Protecting the quality and the quantity of our waters is a priority of the Sierra Club - John MuirChapter. Wisconsin is home to over 15,000 lakes, 12,600 rivers and streams, and countless smaller bodies of water. Our state is also bordered by the Mississippi River and our Great Lakes Superior and Michigan. Wisconsin's waters provide critical habitat for native species, and they are a source of beauty and enjoyment for boaters, swimmers, and anglers.
The Sierra Club-John Muir Chapter is working to ensure that Wisconsin's waters remain clean and safe for current and future generations. Our waters are threatened by irresponsible practices such as mining and unsustainable agriculture. This page gives an overview of the water quality issues important to the chapter.
Visit and "Like" our new Sierra Club Wisconsin Water Sentinels Facebook Page!
Promoting Sustainable Agriculture
Farming is a vital part of Wisconsin's economy and culture, but irresponsible agriculture can harm the environment. The Sierra Club is particularly concerned about impacts of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), also known as factory farms, due to their potential for largescale pollution. The number of CAFOs in Wisconsin has risen sharply in recent years, increasing the potential for water pollution. The Sierra Club - John Muir Chapter encourages citizens to support and promote local, sustainable, and organic agriculture whenever possible. For more information about factory farm concerns, visit our CAFO page.
Protecting the Great Lakes
In 2008, the Sierra Club-John Muir Chapter helped pass the historic Great Lakes Compact, which is an agreement between the Great Lakes states designed to prevent the diversion of irreplaceable Lake Michigan and Lake Superior water to other states, countries, or water bottling corporations. The compact establishes consistent, ecosystem-based standards for assessing diversion requests, ensuring the fair management of Great Lakes water. Our coalition worked to ensure that Wisconsin's Great Lakes Compact law includes the following key provisions:
- Outlines measurable, meaningful water conservation practices
- Ensures environmentally responsible return of all diverted waters
- Closes the bottled water loophole that would let multinational corporations profit from public water resources by allowing diversions one bottle at a time
- Sets permit and monitoring standards for large water users within the Great Lakes basin
- Maintains the integrity of the Great Lakes watershed by establishing fixed community boundaries
- Assures an open, public approval process for diversion requests and provides public enforcement options
Sierra Club is also a member of the Healing Our Waters (HOW) Coalition. The coalition is composed of more than 100 organizations representing millions of residents in the Great Lakes region. Its goal is simple: to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Visit their website at www.healthylakes.org
To Learn More About Great Lakes Protection:
- Download our "Citizen's Guide to Protecting the Great Lakes" report. The guide was inspired by the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy (GLRCS) – a comprehensive regional plan to protect our drinking water, economic future and way of life. The Great Lakes hold one fifth of the world's fresh surface water and currently provide drinking water to over 42 million people. Yet each day, our Lakes are damaged economically and ecologically by untreated sewage, industrial pollutants and invasive species. Sierra Club's report offers actions to reduce these threats and contains specific strategies people can use to protect the Lakes.
- Download presentations below from our Great Lakes events in Green Bay & Milwaukee:
- Green Jobs for Clean Water: Freshwater and Economy Forum (pdf)
- EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (pdf)
- GLWI: The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (pdf)
- Great Lakes Protection and Restoration: Towards an Integrated Approach (pdf)
- Federal Resources for Great Lakes Restoration (pdf)
- Wisconsin Great Lakes Strategy (pdf)