neview Construction Begins on MTU's Great Lakes Research CenterMichigan Technological University celebrated the groundbreaking of its newest building last week on the shores of the waters that it aims to study and help protect.

“It’s heartwarming to see this many people who are passionate about the Great Lakes,” Michigan Tech president Glenn D. Mroz told the crowd.

The Great Lakes Research Center will be located on Michigan Tech’s waterfront on the Keweenaw Waterway, which connects on both ends to Lake Superior. The state is funding three-quarters of the $25.3 million center, with the university providing the remaining $6 million.

The center was an obvious choice for state support, said Mroz, considering that it will house research and education on one of the world’s most precious and increasingly rare resources.

“I taught hydrology and watershed management for 25 years,” he said. “I used to tell my students, 97 percent of the water in the world is salt.”

Most of the rest is tied up in glaciers, he said. Of the tiny remainder, about 20 percent is found in the Great Lakes, and half of that total is contained in Lake Superior, where much of the center’s work will be focused.

State Rep. Mike Lahti, D-Hancock, who was instrumental in helping secure funds for the center, spoke at the ceremony. He noted that the new center would have other benefits as well.

“This is an investment in our state and in the economic recovery of the nation,” he said.

The Great Lakes Research Center will include aquatic laboratories, a hydraulics lab, coastal research instrumentation, boathouse facilities, offices and conference rooms, providing a home at Michigan Tech for interdisciplinary research and education related to the Great Lakes.  It will also house a research and educational partnership between Michigan Tech and the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Research and Development Center Environmental Laboratory in Vicksburg, Miss. The Vicksburg lab is the Corps of Engineers’ water resources research hub.

Construction is expected to be completed in about 18 to 24 months under the direction of general contractor Granger Construction Co. of Lansing.

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