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The Great Lakes Model

The Great Lakes form an important part of the drainage system for the central United States and Canada. These lakes are also critical biological resources. Industrial, agricultural and residential pollution of these lakes has been and continues to be of great concern to the governments of both countries and the states and provinces which border on the Great Lakes.

One of many interesting questions concerning the Great Lakes has been how quickly one expects reduction in pollution to be reflected in reduced levels of pollutants in the lakes. The answer depends on the complex interaction of water flow between the lakes. If a specific form of pollution is ended everywhere in the Great Lakes basin, the effect may not be seen in the downstream lakes for many years.

Another important policy consideration is that if a certain concentration of some pollutant is deemed acceptable in the lakes, how should pollution permits be assigned to each of the five lakes in order to make sure the acceptable concentration is never exceeded in any lake. Should some lakes be exposed to a greater portion of the polluting effluent than others? What lakes are most sensitive to upstream pollution? How long would the effects of one time disasters (a train wreck, for example) be significant?

The model we will build here is designed to offer an analysis of this important system and provide insight into these important questions.

Steve McKelvey
Fri Jul 5 08:01:19 CDT 1996