ANN ARBOR, Mich., Dec. 10, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new $9 millionUniversity of Michigan Great Lakes research and education center will guide efforts to protect and restore the world's largest group of freshwater lakes. With a $4.5 million, three-year grant from the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, and an additional $4.5 million from the University, the new University of Michigan Water Center, will provide solid scientific framework for more efficient and effective Great Lakes restoration. The Erb Family Foundation is a supporter of the University's sustainability initiative. Established in 2007, the Foundation aims to nurture environmentally healthy and culturally vibrant communities in metropolitan Detroit and to support initiatives to restore the Great Lakes basin. The U-M Water Center grant is the third grant from the Erb Foundation to the University. In 2009, the Foundation awarded $500,000 to a U-M-led research team for the Great Lakes Environmental Assessment and Mapping project (GLEAM). Last year, the Foundation provided a $200,000 challenge grant to fund third-year students at the Frederick A. and Barbara M. Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at U-M. The Institute was established in 1996 with a $5 million endowment gift from Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb. "The Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation is very pleased to provide U-M with this grant to identify and fill critical knowledge gaps and help develop a science framework for the restoration of the Great Lakes," said John Erb, president of the Erb Family Foundation. "The lakes are a unique and precious ecosystem that we must steward for the benefit of current and future generations." The Erb Family Foundation envisions that efforts during the first three years of funding to the U-M Water Center will lead to more effective and powerful integration of scientific input for, and evaluation of, restoration and protection of the Great Lakes.