Catch “Drain the Great Lakes” on the Discovery Channel

The Discovery Channel’s Drain the Great Lakes dives below the surface of the Great Lakes. See the underwater topography of each lake and learn about shipwrecks, submerged waterfalls, craters and invasive species.

The Great Lakes hold 20 percent of the world's freshwater, but what is they were drained? Photo: NOAA

The lakes hold almost 20 percent of the world’s surface freshwater … but what if the water was gone? The program explores some of the man-made and natural wonders underneath the waters, and exposes the geographic uniqueness of the giant water bowls that surround us.

Using some cool computer imagery, the Discovery folks take viewers on a pretty fantastic voyage that would appeal to Great Lakes, history or technology geeks.

The special premiered on Sunday, and will play again today at 8 p.m. Tune in to get a unique view of the region.

Check out the Discovery Channel’s behind the scenes footage of documentary production.

  • Richard

    I agree with Seth. Lake Michigan is mysteriously missing in this documentary. Its not like there is nothing there. There are many interesting things there that are just mysteriously ignored.

    I do have to say though that it is odd the numerous pictures of Toronto on Lake Ontario and no pictures or even mention of American cities, of Chicago, IL; Michigan City, IN; Ludington, Manistee & Muskegon, MI; Milwaukee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan & Sturgeon Bay, WI on lake Michigan, or other American cities on the Any of the other Great Lakes. That would indicate to me, a biased Canadian funded film and would probably explain the lack of Lake Michigan being in this film because there are so many big American cities on that lake. Sad but probably true.

  • Harold

    First of all, there are no glaciers in the Great Lakes watershed (remember, they last melted some 10,000 years ago). The idea of trying to put more water into the Great Lakes so it can be pumped elsewhere isn’t very feasible–it’s just dangerous.

  • Wayne

    It might be a smart idea to refill the Ogallala Aquifer. This would entail rerouting Canadian glacial melt water from flowing into the Arctic or Atlantic Oceans back into the Great Lakes and on into the Aquifer as needed.The Great Lakes would remain essentially at the same level. Where’s the feasibility study for this?

  • Seth

    I could be wrong as Ive only watched it a few times before bed… but is there nothing about Lake Michigan? It goes from Superior to Mackinac to Huron to Erie to Ontario back to Superior (Edmund Fitzgerald). Have I missed a whole segment? I guess Mackinac is a small part but it is actually why many people are now classifying Huron and Michigan as one lake.

    On the other hand….. I have never even heard of Long Point on Lake Erie and it looks absolutely breathtaking.

  • Robin

    Good call Harold. Also all the mining has diverted the under ground water flows. All the mine shafts are filling up because of the open nonresistance of the shafts causing, sink holes and earth quakes. Parts of Pennsylvania have all ready caved in. A lot of California in hallow and sinking.

  • Anonymous

    The “fresh water’ vs. fresh surface water” mistake is very common, even among Great Lakes experts. I’ve heard it often.

    Still, it’s a lot of the Earth’s water.

  • Eric

    To be fair though, the Great Lakes represent a huge visual representation of the quality and quantity of freshwater on earth (at least here in the US). The levels of aquifers and wells are much harder to visualize and much less visceral than a dried lake bed. The Great Lakes is more than just freshwater; it’s fishing and tourism, a huge natural force that affects the weather, a touchstone for a way of life and culture, and more. We do need to be cognizant of our water supplies, using the Great Lakes puts an easily recognizable image in our minds.

  • Brian Bienkowski

    You are correct, Harold. Error updated, which was an editorial mistake (mine) and not the reporter’s. Thanks for the catch!

  • Harold

    The Great Lakes do NOT hold 20% of the world’s freshwater. They hold 20% of the world’s surface freshwater. That is an important distinction. Much, if not most, of the world’s freshwater is in groundwater and deep aquifers. Unfortunately, many of these groundwater resources have been greatly diminished by unsustainable water withdrawals, primarily for agriculture. In some places in the U.S., the water table has dropped upwards of 100 feet or more. This is a true water crisis which will eventually put pressure on the Great Lakes. When the well runs dry, where do you think the politicians will turn to? Mis-characterizing the Great Lakes as 20% of the world’s freshwater doesn’t help. (And it is done often. I don’t mean to pick on this otherwise good story; the Discovery program sounds interesting.) But states need to adjust their agricultural practices based upon their available water resources. Trying to grow water-intensive crops in desert regions is the ultimate in foolishness.