The $9 million U-M Water Center was formed last October with an initial focus on providing a solid scientific framework for more efficient and effective Great Lakes restoration. As a center of U-M's Graham Sustainability Institute, the Water Center was made possible by a $4.5 million, three-year grant from the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation and additional funds from the university. Foundation President John Erb said, "The Erb Family Foundation is pleased to support the important work of U-M's new Water Center to demonstrate the effectiveness of investments in Great Lakes restoration. The lakes are a unique and precious ecosystem that we must steward for the benefit of current and future generations."
During its first three years, the center will focus on identifying and filling critical science gaps in the four focus areas of the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI): removing toxic contamination and restoring regions of environmental degradation known as areas of concern; combating invasive species; protecting and restoring wildlife and their habitats; and ridding nearshore waters of polluted runoff. In selecting the first 12 grants, special emphasis was given to proposals that integrated one or more GLRI focus areas or that evaluated the potential effects of climate change on Great Lakes restoration efforts. In all cases, the U-M funding will be used to support existing restoration and protection efforts in the Great Lakes, not to establish new projects.