Economy

The Great Lakes have always played a major role in the region's economy -- as the backdrop for shipping, steel-making and other industries. Today, the lakes are crucial to wind energy, tourism and other elements of the new economy.  

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WXXI News

Three massive tanks in the shape of 60-foot-tall beer cans lie on their side on a barge, as a red tugboat pushes them down the last leg of their journey along the Erie Canal.

The Genesee Beer Co. is shipping them to Rochester as part of a massive modernization project, and public relations campaign. The fermentation tanks will be used to brew millions of bottles of beer at a time and were too large to ship by truck or train.

Alex Crichton

Lake Ontario is nearly a foot and a half higher than is usual for this time of year, and New Yorkers living on the south shore are anxiously watching the water continue to rise.

Near Rochester, the village of Sodus Point is providing sandbags to homeowners.

For years, the folks who protect the Great Lakes have warned about the dangers of ballast water discharges -- because they can carry invasive species. Now a study by Michigan State researchers shows that ballast water also can contain viruses dangerous to wildlife and humans, Great Lakes Echo reports.

The buildup of nutrients in western Lake Erie can trigger algae growth – and contaminate drinking water in nearby cities.  That happened as recently as 2014, when Toledo residents could not drink their water for two days.

Researchers say agriculture is largely to blame, so Ohio is requiring farmers to take special training. But it’s not clear that approach will work.

John Nicholls/Shutterstock

The Great Lakes shipping season officially kicks off Monday with the opening of the Welland Canal, the shipping channel that connects Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.

This is the earliest the Canal has opened – matching the March 20th opening in 2007. But since the winter has been so mild, shipping locally has continued throughout the region.  

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