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The Great Lakes region holds an abundance of water but not everyone can access it

A satellite image of the Great Lakes.
SeaWiFS Project
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center and ORBIMAGE
A satellite image of the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes account for 90% of North America’s fresh water and 20% of the global supply. The lakes, Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario provide water for an estimated 40 million people in the United States and Canada.

By comparison, people living in parts of the West and Southwest are dealing with a long-lasting and history-making drought. As a result of the drought and water use exceeding supply, the Colorado River, considered the lifeblood of the West, is withering and drying up.

This uneven distribution of water has led to a number of ideas for helping to meet the West and Southwest’s water needs, such as pipelines. This is not a new idea. For decades, ideas have been floated to try and take the water from the Great Lakes and move it west.

Fifteen years ago, this December, the eight states and two Canadian provinces that make-up the Great Lake region signed a compact agreement that sets the terms for water diversion from the region.

But for those living in the Great Lakes, access to water isn’t always guaranteed either. Water affordability is a real issue in Ohio and other Great Lakes states as households contend with some of the most expensive tap water rates in the nation.

All this week, we are looking at environmental oriented topics here on the Sound of Ideas as we approach Earth Day on April 22.

First up this hour, we turn our attention to Akron. Demonstrations have been held following the special grand jury’s decision to not indict the eight officers involved in the shooting death of Jayland Walker last June. The attorney representing the Walker family promised demonstrators that despite the special grand jury’s decision, “we are going to change things in this city.” Ideastream’s Akron-Canton reporter, Anna Huntsman brings us an update on the events that continue to unfold.

Later in the hour, vinyl records and physical media in general are making a comeback. Senior reporter Kabir Bhatia talked to two independent record store owners as they prepare for Record Store Day this weekend.

-Anna Huntsman, Akron-Canton Reporter, Ideastream Public Media
-Molly Flanagan, Chief Operating Officer and VP for Programs, Alliance for the Great Lakes
-Crystal Davis, Vice President of Policy and Strategic Engagement, Alliance for the Great Lakes
-David Wolfe, Co-Owner, The Vinyl Groove
-Joshua Lehman, Owner, Blackbird Records
-Kabir Bhatia, Senior Reporter, Ideastream Public Media

Leigh Barr is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and the "Sound of Ideas Reporters Roundtable."