About Blue Accounting

The future of our region hinges on the Great Lakes, which fuel a $6 trillion economy and provide drinking water for more than 40 million people in the U.S. and Canada. Blue Accounting helps decision-makers understand the region’s progress toward a healthy and vibrant Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River region.

Lake Superior

Blue Accounting is an information service that tracks the region’s efforts to tackle critical issues facing the Great Lakes. Currently these issues include stopping aquatic invasive species; reducing nutrients that contribute to harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie; and safeguarding drinking water.

Blue Accounting is a service of the Great Lakes Commission, a binational government agency established in 1955 to protect the Great Lakes and the economies and ecosystems they support. Its membership includes leaders from the eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces in the Great Lakes basin. Learn more at www.glc.org.

How We Work Together

Great Lakes Commission staff works with experts to identify goals and track progress on key Great Lakes issues.

Blue Accounting starts with diverse work groups that include representatives of the state, provincial and federal governments, as well as the academic, nonprofit and private sectors. Connecting leading scientists and policy experts across sectors is one of the key values Blue Accounting brings to the region.

The Great Lakes Commission asks these diverse groups to identify available data, share information about their efforts, and help translate those pieces into the information our region’s leaders need when making decisions that impact Great Lakes restoration and protection.

How We Track Progress

Explore by Great Lakes issue, jurisdiction, or lake

This website features pages for each of the Great Lakes, each state or province, and each issue tracked by Blue Accounting. Users can also explore our resource library and data portal.

The top of each page identifies shared regional goals being examined by Blue Accounting work groups, as well as metrics. Goals are considered mutually desired outcomes, while metrics are the tools used to track progress toward a goal. If no goals are visible on a page, they have not yet been identified for that issue, jurisdiction, or lake.

For goals and metrics with an established, regionally-agreed upon target, a gauge is used to show progress toward that target. For metrics without an defined target, information is compiled and made available, as potential targets are considered.

Blue Accounting’s History


In 2013, the Great Lakes governors and the premier of Ontario called for a smarter and more comprehensive approach to monitoring Great Lakes water resources. In response, a Great Lakes Commission-led work group issued a report proposing the adoption of a “Great Lakes Blue Accounting Process.”


Following the recommendations in this report, the Great Lakes Commission and The Nature Conservancy launched Blue Accounting as a pilot initiative in 2015. This effort received generous support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, and the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation.


After a five-year pilot effort, Blue Accounting is now led by the Great Lakes Commission in partnership with federal, state, provincial, local, nongovernmental, and private sector organizations.