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Great Lakes can experience water shortages

Despite having more fresh water than anywhere else in the world, the Great Lakes region could experience shortages in some locations because of climate shifts or surging demand, a federal analysis says.

The five-year study by the U.S. Geological Survey, obtained by The Associated Press ahead of its scheduled release Monday, describes the Great Lakes as an aquatic treasure trove. The lakes themselves have 6 quadrillion gallons _ enough to spread a foot-deep layer across North America, South America and Africa _ and the volume of groundwater surpasses that of Lake Huron.

Yet groundwater levels have plummeted about 1,000 feet in the Chicago-Milwaukee metro area because of pumping for municipal supplies and could drop an additional 100 feet over the next three decades if withdrawal rates jump as expected, the report says. The Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha, its deep wells contaminated with radium, is seeking permission to tap Lake Michigan under a compact signed by the region's eight states in 2005.

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