(Mt. Clemens) – In an effort to reshape the image of the area, County Executive Mark Hackel wants to raise awareness of the waterways in Macomb County – specifically Lake St. Clair and the Clinton River.
The thinking is that the county should be able to benefit more economically from the great resources they have. Like many other communities, Macomb County should be able to integrate their waterways into the local economy with kayaking, swimming and other water sports, as well as the restaurants and other businesses that could benefit from a proximity to the water.
Awareness is important, but the biggest challenge is water pollution. How many times has Metro Beach been shut down due to high levels of contaminants in the water? How many stories of sewage seeping into the Clinton River do we hear about every year? In order to make better use of the water, it needs to actually be usable.
President Obama signed a bill into law in 2009 that included $475 million for clean up in the Great Lakes, but we’re just talking about a very small part of the Great Lakes near Macomb County, so the amount available to specifically address these issues will be much smaller.
There appears to be an economic reason for taking care of our waterways too. A recent study by the Brookings Institute determined that for every dollar spent on cleaning up waterways, the region will see a return of three dollars in economic activity due to tourism, and other business development. A full report on the economic impact of revitalizing Lake St. Clair is being prepared by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and should be finished this summer.