ANN ARBOR, Mich., Oct. 15 (UPI) -- The University of Michigan says it is joining 20 other U.S. and Canadian universities to propose research and policy priorities to help protect the Great Lakes.
Dubbed the Great Lakes Futures Project of the Transborder Research University Network, the effort will use a cross-disciplinary, cross-sector approach to examine alternative Great Lakes futures, university officials said.
"With the recent release of the revised Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, this is a critical time to bring together scholars and practitioners from across the region to chart a more protective future for this precious resource," Donald Scavia, director of the university's Graham Sustainability Institute said in a release Monday.
Home to more than 35 million people -- 30 percent of the Canadian population and 10 percent of the U.S. population -- the Great Lakes area is expected to grow by 20 million people in the next 20 years.
While the basin contains more than 80 percent of the water in North America and 21 percent of the world's surface fresh water, demands from within and outside the basin are substantial and escalating, researchers said.
This U.S.-Canadian collaboration will address questions such as "How can this water and watershed be managed?" and "What are the environmental, social, economic and political impacts of those management plans?" researchers said.