The Web-based Great Lakes Town Hall provides the 42 million residents in the region a forum to discuss ways to protect and preserve the ecosystem of Lake Michigan and other bodies of water. Photo: M. Bundy

The Madison, Wis.-based Biodiversity Project has announced a project seeking input from residents in the Great Lakes region to discuss conservation, pollution, and other factors affecting the area.

The Great Lakes Town Hall is a Web-based resource for the more than 42 million residents of the eight states and two Canadian provinces in the area. The project will provide a forum to debate proposals to promote water conservation and ban water exports, new public funds for restoring the health of the ecosystem, and various threats to the environment, including invasive species, sewage overflows, habitat loss, chemical pollutants, and climate change.

“It's more important than ever to engage our community in the future of our Great Lakes,” said Jeffrey Potter, director of communications for the project. “The size of the Great Lakes region makes it difficult to assemble citizens for meetings and action that could protect these treasures. One way to span the great distances among communities is with electronic communication.”

One recent action affecting the region: the governors of the Great Lakes states and Ontario officials joined to restrict pumping of water out of the basin. Signed in December, the pact bans new or increased diversions from the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River to other watersheds outside the drainage area.

The Web site will include guest speakers, discussion boards, photos, educational material, and other resources. For more information, visit