Which State has the Most Fresh Water?

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Which State has the Most Fresh Water?

June 13, 2024 Blog Michigan 0

My first guess regarding which state has the most fresh water is, naturally, my home state of Michigan. Pure Michigan, the State’s official website, shares that our beautiful Peninsula is surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes and that we are the stewards of the Nation’s longest freshwater coastline of 3,288 linear miles.

The combined lakes contain the largest supply of fresh water on earth; 20% or one-fifth of the earth’s total fresh water, with more than 3,000 miles of shoreline, the Great Lakes not only form Michigan’s geography, but also shape our economy, society, and environment. –Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.

Previously, I had the long-standing belief that we Michiganders were safe from most natural disasters. However, with all the water surrounding us, whether it is Great Lakes, inland lakes, rivers, streams, or ponds, water damage is unfortunately a risk.

With all the extensive data on Michigan’s fresh water, after even more research, it turns out we do not have the most fresh water in the United States – Alaska does, which would make a flood in Alaska more likely to happen than in Michigan (well, maybe).

According to Statista, “The United States and its territories have a total area of more than 3.8 million square miles – of this, 269,717 square miles (around seven percent of the total) is made up of water area, such as rivers, lakes, and inlets, as well as territorial waters along the coast.

Alaska, the largest state, has the largest water area by a significant margin, at almost 95,000 square miles (35 percent of the country’s total). This is followed by Michigan, which has over 40,000 square miles of water area – the majority of this comes from the Great Lakes, as large shares of Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, and Lake Superior fall within Michigan’s boundaries,”.

Across Alaska, there are over 12,000 rivers, millions of lakes, and many creeks and ponds.

Vermont came in number three, with over 7,000 miles of streams and rivers and larger bodies of water like Lake Memphremagog, Lake Champlain, and Lake Bomoseen.

Coming in fourth is Rhode Island, which has lakes, reservoirs, and other freshwater sources that take up over 20,000 acres.

What state has the most freshwater lakes

Ok, so we determined that Alaska and Michigan have the most fresh water. But what about freshwater lakes? My initial guess would be Minnesota. Looks like I am wrong again! Here’s a list of the states with the most freshwater lakes:

  • Alaska 3,000,000
  • Kansas 120,000
  • Florida 30,000
  • Wisconsin 15,074
  • Minnesota 14,380
  • Michigan 11,000
  • Washington 8,000
  • New York 7,600
  • Texas 7,000

With all this water surrounding us, the likelihood of floods happening is probably relatively high and, as mentioned earlier, has the potential to affect our livelihoods. The National Geographic Society states, “Floods cause sedimentation and erosion. Floodwater can also alter the landscape, for instance, by eroding riverbanks and causing them to collapse. As floodwater carries material from the eroded banks, it suspends sediment in the water, which can degrade water quality and lead to harmful blooms of algae,”.

This truly underscores the importance of water management and flood preparedness in states rich in freshwater resources. With the varying statistics, it’s fascinating to uncover how different states harness and manage their water areas. Michigan and Alaska certainly dominate in sheer volume, but Minnesota’s reputation as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” makes sense when considering the significant number of freshwater lakes.

What is the difference between flood control and flood management?

Flood control seeks to eliminate floods, while flood management seeks to reduce the threat from floods. Managing floods is a critical aspect of disaster preparedness and resilience. While flood control and flood management may sound similar, they differ in their ultimate goal.

In the U.S., the Nation’s environmental engineer is the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), owning and operating more than six hundred dams, maintaining 12,000 miles of commercial inland navigation channels, dredging more than two hundred million cubic yards of construction and maintenance dredge material annually. If that’s not enough, they maintain nine hundred and twenty-six coastal, Great Lakes, and inland harbors.

Information from the USACE shows that the, “USACE FRM Framework includes the following four components:

AWARENESS of potential risks associated with flooding events – Collaborate with communities to better understand their past experiences and concerns for future flooding.

ANALYSIS of flood risk – Conduct studies and investigations to better understand flood risks, such as where, when, and at what magnitude the flooding may occur and to identify the potential impacts to community safety and property.

ADDRESS flood risk – Work with community leaders to determine what risk-reducing actions are feasible and cost-effective. This could range from construction of structural, nonstructural, or nature-based projects to planning activities, such as developing evacuation plans.

ADJUST approach to operating and maintaining F.R.M. structures – Monitor and re-evaluate operation of F.R.M. structures due to changed conditions, as needed; renourish beaches, shorelines, and streambanks; or rehabilitate F.R.M. structures to continue providing the intended protection from flood risk,”.

Floods are natural events we can’t completely stop, but we can reduce their impact. Effective flood management combines structural measures like floodwalls, levees, and evacuation routes with nonstructural strategies such as land-use planning and public education. Structural solutions physically control floodwaters, while nonstructural methods emphasize innovative policies and awareness. Early warning systems and well-prepared emergency plans are essential to help communities respond and recover quickly from floods. Public education campaigns also play a crucial role in ensuring everyone knows how to stay safe during floods.

Which state has the most fresh water?

In conclusion, although research varies based on what the polls consider fresh water, most place Alaska and Michigan at the top, with states like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, and Vermont coming in below them.

As a Pure Michigan Native, I am grateful to live in a state with plenty of water sources and have zero plans of ever leaving (except to become a snowbird in my retirement).

While we continue to appreciate and benefit from these natural resources, it’s essential to maintain sustainable practices to protect and preserve our invaluable freshwater lifelines for future generations.