An organization that represents states in the Great Lakes region says governments should push harder to protect water quality through use of "green infrastructure."
A report issued this month by the Great Lakes Commission recommends a number of steps to encourage greater reliance on natural features such as rain gardens, bioswales, green roofs and street trees.
They filter out pollutants, preventing them from reaching streams and rivers that drain into the Great Lakes.
They also absorb or slowly release storm water, helping prevent floods.
The report calls for full funding of a federal program that provides loans to communities for clean-water projects.
It also urges government agencies to include use of green infrastructure among best-management practices required for communities seeking permits intended to limit storm water runoff.