Gov. Eric Holcomb is encouraging Hoosiers to take a moment today to appreciate Lake Michigan and the entire Great Lakes water system.

The Republican chief executive has proclaimed Saturday to be Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Appreciation Day in Indiana, in commemoration of the anniversary of representatives from the United States and Canada signing the latest Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement in 2012.

Holcomb said the five Great Lakes, as well as the St. Lawrence River that connects the lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, are "a globally significant resource and ecosystem" that contains 21% of the world's surface freshwater, provides drinking water to 48 million Americans and Canadians, and supplies 56 billion gallons of water per day for municipal, agricultural and industrial use.

In Indiana, he noted that the Lake Michigan shoreline contains the state's first national park at Indiana Dunes, and supports a shipping industry that produces $14 billion a year in economic impact, a $400 million commercial and sport fishing industry and more than 100,000 jobs.

"An abundant supply of clean, affordable water is essential to support a healthy population, a thriving economy and a well-functioning ecosystem; and, as a major source of water for communities located within the Great Lakes basin, the Great Lakes system is a vital resource in which all the region's residents share a common interest," Holcomb said.

State Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, who led the Statehouse effort to establish a day for celebrating and appreciating the Great Lakes, said he's grateful the governor recognizes the Great Lakes are "fundamental to our state's quality of life and vital to ensuring Hoosiers have access to clean, healthy water."

"Lake Michigan holds great ecological and economic significance for Indiana, and I hope the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Appreciation Day will increase awareness of the necessity to preserve this important natural resource," Charbonneau said.
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