Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Protecting waterways fuels Michigan's job growth

by Michigan Lt. Gov. John Cherry Jr.

Michigan touches four of the five Great Lakes and has the longest freshwater coast in the United States. That means we have a special obligation to protect our waterways, and it also positions us at the global center of transformative economic possibilities.

So while every day in Michigan should be Earth Day, every day must also be focused on our economy and jobs. Fortunately, in Michigan, protecting our freshwater resources and growing our economy are two sides of the same coin.

Protecting our waterways and the singular economic potential of Michigan's unique geography are two fundamental elements of the MI Great Lakes Plan, released in January by the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes and developed with the input of thousands of Michigan citizens.

With the MI Great Lakes Plan as a blueprint, we are aggressively taking advantage of new federal recovery dollars to help achieve our goals of protecting habitat and coastal areas, and upgrading local drinking water and wastewater systems. These on-the-ground projects will create new jobs today and will further support the creation of tourism-related jobs that have already increased by 33 percent in our coastal communities between 2001 and 2007.

The MI Great Lakes Plan also points out the new economic opportunities that arise in the water technology sector, estimated to generate $500 billion worldwide annually. Water will be the world's next oil, and with that comes a need for new freshwater management technologies and expertise. More here.

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