Great Lakes


The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is a binational coalition of over 240 U.S. and Canadian mayors and local officials working to advance the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin. The Cities Initiative and local officials integrate environmental, economic and social agendas and sustain a resource that represents approximately 20 percent of the world’s surface freshwater supply, provides drinking water for 40 million people, and is the foundation upon which a strong regional economy is based.

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Upcoming Events

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June 8, 2024

Lunch and Learn: Canada's New Freshwater Policy and Programming

How Can Your Community Benefit from New Funding?
Join us for an informative and engaging session to learn about the new opportunities and funding available under Canada’s new freshwater policy and programming. Discover how your community can benefit and make a positive impact on our precious water resources.  Register.

stay informed with inflowing and outflowing of information on our website
June 5, 2024

Green Shipping and Cruise Tourism on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway

Opportunities for Local Governments to Participate in the Emerging Blue Economy.  Register


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Resilient Coastal Projects Initiative

With funding through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Fund for Lake Michigan and the Erb Family Foundation, the Cities Initiative has established a $2 million coastal resilience technical assistance program. The Resilient Coastal Project Initiative (RCPI) provides support to municipalities to increase local resilience to climate change using nature-based solutions that will connect people to nature and protect water quality. Partners for the RCPI include regional planning agencies, local non-profit organizations, state coastal programs and provincial conservation authorities, regulatory partners, and engineering partners, including Stantec and LimnoTech. By 2024, the RCPI will assist ninety communities in the United States in developing project plans and pursuing funding opportunities. The Cities Initiative is piloting the program in Ontario and Quebec in early 2023 and will pursue funding opportunities to expand the program’s reach in Canada.

Mayors Commission on Water Equity

The Mayors Water Equity Commission is comprised of approximately 10 mayors from across the Great Lakes region. The Cities Initiative staff will support its work with assistance from technical experts from the water industry and national leaders advancing integrated and inclusive approaches to water stewardship. The Commission will guide the development of an ongoing Water Equity Initiative for Great Lakes Cities that will develop cross-sector collaborations; exchange information and best practices; and build capacity among municipal governments and their partners to ensure equitable access to water resources and benefits. We also work with Congress and state legislatures to secure funding for badly needed water infrastructure investments in our cities.

Mayors Commission on Coastal Resilience

The purpose of the Cities Initiative’s Mayors Commission on Coastal Resilience is to work with the mayors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River on both sides of the border to develop a plan on how to mitigate the considerable damage to their shorelines caused by erosion, flooding and other impacts from high lake levels and climate change. Private sector, public sector and nonprofit agencies and organizations will come together to deliver recommended actions and examples of best practices.


November 15, 2023

One Water Summit: Unlocking the Potential of Water and Public Health Partnerships

Mayor Marcus Muhammad, Benton Harbor, MI: Mayor Muhammad was a key panel member and discussed how to unlock the potential of water and public health partnerships. He stressed the importance of infrastructure and water issues on our current public health crisis. He also addressed the water crisis Benton Harbor as an example of the need for greater partnerships to prevent future crises.

November 15, 2024

One Water Summit: Water’s Role in Democracy, Civil Cohesion, and Justice

Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard, Mount Vernon, NY: Mayor Patterson-Howard participated in a panel focusing on water’s role in democracy, civil cohesion and justice. Her response regarding the State of Mississippi’s refusal to engage the city of Jackson on their water crisis succinctly addressed the power of civic engagement to make progress on a community’s critical needs in the face of inaction.

June 7, 2023

Implementing the Inflation Reduction Act in Chicago and Other Basin Cities

Last year, the Biden Administration secured the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which provides $369 billion to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance climate resilience across the United States, including $5 billion for the design and implementation of climate action plans. Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson has called for a Green New Deal for Chicago residents, emphasizing the need for climate action, environmental justice and inclusive economic development

June 7, 2023

Basin Cities Delivering on Climate Action

Many communities across the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin have adopted a climate action plan. While climate action plans generally have the same components, local circumstances often differ, as do the stories of how plans are successfully crafted, adopted, and implemented.

June 7, 2023

Climate Action in Illinois: Governor J.B. Pritzker

September 15, 2022

One Water Summit

Milwaukee, WI

April 29, 2021

The Need for Action on Lead in Water

One thing we know is this: Lead is a danger to everyone - Mayor Sheldon Neeley, Flint, Mich.

April 29, 2021

The Challenges of Water Affordability

There probably isn’t anything in this country funded more inequitably than water - Mayor Mike Duggan, Detroit, Mich

April 29, 2021

Water Workforce Development Opportunities

Building a labor pipeline to rebuild our water lines; Creating jobs by addressing our water infrastructure challenges - Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee, Wisc.