Revitalizing Waterfront Communities

Many Great Lakes coastal communities are working to restore and reclaim degraded or under-utilized waterfronts and leverage them to support economic development, recreation and other purposes. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is accelerating this process, particularly in the Areas of Concern. As these and other areas are cleaned up, communities are starting to consider how to build on successful remediation and restoration to advance economic and social revitalization in waterfront areas. This is part of a broader recognition among regional leaders of the potential of fresh water and the “Blue Economy” to promote economic growth, attract and retain talent, support water-dependent industries, and sustain a high quality of life in the Great Lakes region.
The Great Lakes Commission is well suited to develop tools and support strategies to revitalize waterfront communities and strengthen the “Blue Economy” through research, policy development, information exchange and technology transfer, and stakeholder collaboration.

The GLC supports programs, such as the Coastal Zone Management Program as implemented by the states, that facilitate healthy and sustainable coastal development, and advocates for policies and legislation that strengthen state leadership; promote the exchange of best practices; emphasize sustainability and resiliency to impacts from climate change; and balance multiple benefits such as recreation, fish and wildlife, commercial navigation, and water-dependent industries.

Project Narrative

Waterfront areas in the Great Lakes historically have been centers of economic activity for coastal communities, supporting industries with fresh water, energy, and access to waterborne networks for shipping raw materials and finished goods. The industrial era left a legacy of contamination and habitat degradation in many shoreline areas and the decline in heavy industry in the Great Lakes region has left many waterfronts vacant or underutilized.

Many coastal communities are working to clean up and reclaim waterfront areas and align them with new plans for economic development, public access, recreation, habitat restoration and other uses, along with continued support for commercial navigation. Progress in cleaning up and restoring degraded shorelines has accelerated significantly in recent years with support from the Great Lakes Legacy Act, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and other state, provincial and federal programs, particularly in Areas of Concern designated under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

Multiple state, provincial and federal programs support healthy and sustainable coastal development, including the GLRI, Coastal Zone Management Act, National Sea Grant College Program, and brownfields redevelopment programs. Some recent proposals have focused on promoting economic clusters, particularly those that depend on fresh water, and assisting communities in developing waterfront areas, balancing multiple uses, and strengthening resiliency to impacts from climate change.

The Great Lakes Commission’s work supports waterfront community revitalization by improving water quality, restoring degraded shorelines, enhancing valuable fish and wildlife resources, repairing water infrastructure, promoting commercial navigation, and facilitating collaboration and information exchange among policymakers and local leaders. The GLC will continue to identify and support opportunities to strengthen federal and state policies, programs and funding; facilitate state leadership; promote the exchange of best practices; emphasize sustainability and resiliency to impacts from climate change; and balance multiple benefits such as recreation, fish and wildlife, commercial navigation, and water-dependent industries.

 

For More Information

Matt Doss
Policy Director
Great Lakes Commission
734-971-9135
[email protected]

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