Lake Erie is one of the five large freshwater Great Lakes in North America, the world's largest such lakes.
It has a surface area of 24,000 km² (10,000 sq. miles), an average depth of 19 meters (62 feet), and a retention time of 2.6 years. It contains 483 cubic kilometers of water. (For comparison, Lake Superior has an average depth of 483 feet, a volume of 12,232 cubic km and a retention time of 191 years.)
Lake Erie is primarily fed by the Detroit River (from Lake Huron and Lake St. Clair) and drains via the Niagara River and Niagara Falls into Lake Ontario. Navigation downstream is provided by the Welland Canal, part of the Great Lakes Waterway.
Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes and became famously polluted in the 1960s and 1970s. Environmental regulation led to a great increase in water quality; however, invasive Zebra mussels currently threaten the entire Lake Erie ecosystem.
The American states Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York are located to the south of Lake Erie; Michigan lies to the west, and the Canadian province of Ontario lies to the north. Point Pelee National Park, the most southerly point of the Canadian mainland, is located on a peninsula extending into the lake.
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