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Posted on Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 11:54 a.m.

University of Michigan launches $9M water center to improve health of Great Lakes

By Kellie Woodhouse


The coastline of Lake Superior is part of 10,000 miles of coast lining the Great Lakes.

Michigan Sea Grant

University of Michigan is creating a Michigan Water Center in an effort to protect the health of the Great Lakes, which are estimated to hold one-fifth of the world's freshwater.


Mary Sue Coleman announced the new Michigan Water Center on Tuesday morning.

Daniel Brenner |

The center will receive $4.5 million in initial finding and another $4.5 million in funding for its first three years. The center is partially funded by the Erb Family Foundation.

The center will look for ways to improve wildlife protection, coastal health and reduce toxic contamination and combat invasive species, U-M President Mary Sue Coleman said Tuesday morning during her annual leadership breakfast.

In addition to research, center officials will work with other environmentalists, policymakers and nonprofit groups to create action plans for conservation.

The effort is expected to bring an additional scientific focus to an already-existing billion-dollar federal effort to clean up the lakes.

"As a university, we need to take on ownership and responsibility of regional sustainability challenges that affect us - close to home and where our expertise can have enormous impact," Coleman said. "The water center will do that."

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

Indeed, remember the Great Lakes And Marine Sciences that was unfortunately fazed out. Great Lakes Research Division and Michigan Sea Grant were housed in that unit Unfortunately, only Michigan Sea Grant survived with CILER being established in 1991 to coordinate research between universities and government facilities. Great Lakes Research Division was moved to School of Natural Resources and ultimately faded into the sunset. I'm totally happy that once again, the UM is taking great interest in one of our greatest treasurers, but think about how far along we would be if the initial Department had stayed intact.

Liliana Holtzman

Wed, Oct 31, 2012 : 11:12 a.m.

It's lovely to hear some good news after all that's been happening. The need to care and study our beautiful lakes cannon be overestimated. Thank you U of M!


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 8:40 p.m.

Anybody remember the UM Great Lakes Research Institute?......didn't think had its own building on North Campus, won't say what happened to it except to note that the building became the UM Robotics Institute. That was back when the UM was going to lead the way in robotics research and take the lead from the Japanese. Here is a URL to UM Great Lakes research.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 6:47 p.m.

Great to hear. How about starting with the Huron River and clear out all those weeds and muck since it serves u of m too.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 4:31 p.m.

Why is another research center being created when there are several already doing this work? Makes no sense to duplicate what all the other organizations that have been in existence for years are already charged with doing. What can this group possibly do that is not already on the agenda for the other organizations? Take these funds and distribute in an equitable fashion to the exiting research organizations. Monitoring information transfer, group collaboration and crossover of strategies spells out more wheel spinning and less getting done.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 7:03 p.m.

Since funded by private grant, the givers can give to whom they choose. Understand there seems to be a lot of players in the game and a need for coordination and a "hub" - not even mentioning USGS Great Lakes on Green Road and other federal entities. If UM/State funds are ever asked for however, there would be some hard questions on how many layers of chrome we need on the "hub" or a "coordination center" for $9M.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 6:31 p.m.

Remind me again who it is that is currently coordinating the efforts of these groups. Where's the duplication?


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:52 p.m.

@semperfi...I am aware of all those organizations you cited. The question remains why is a new organization needed to do what is supposed to be already being done? Absolutely crazy duplication of roles.


Tue, Oct 30, 2012 : 5:08 p.m.

The U-M Water Center will act as a hub for all the independent groups throughout the university that focus on Great Lakes sustainability. It will be administered by the Graham Sustainability Institute and will involve faculty and students from across the university, including the Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecological Research (CILER); Michigan Sea Grant; the School of Natural Resources and Environment; the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences; the College of Engineering; the School of Public Health; and the Ford School of Public Policy. This is a generous donation by the Erb family and excellent news in the fight to keep the Great Lakes great!