Regional goals for the Great Lakes

Through Blue Accounting, experts collaborate to track progress toward shared goals for key issues affecting the Great Lakes. Below is what we are currently tracking for Illinois.

Prevent the introduction of new aquatic invasive species

Progress is reported by metric

Detect and respond to new introduction of aquatic invasive species

in development

Control established aquatic invasive species to reduce negative impacts

in development

Protect sources of drinking water

Progress will be reported by metric

Meet treatment requirements

Progress will be reported by metric

Distribute safe water

Progress will be reported by metric

Additional information about Illinois

Lake Michigan is a beautiful and treasured Illinois resource. Over eight million people in Illinois rely on this great lake for their daily water use as do many businesses and manufacturing facilities in Northeastern Illinois. In addition to its natural beauty, the lake supports large boating, fishing, and tourism economies. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is responsible for preserving and protecting Illinois’ ability to divert water from Lake Michigan through careful water allocation and conservation measures. The Lake Michigan topic in the state water plan includes issues such as equitable water allocation, allocation fees, deteriorating water supply infrastructure, Lake Michigan diversions, water rates, water conservation and reuse, tourism, commercial navigation, coastal resiliency, and offshore wind energy.

Just like there are many aspects to water, such as water quality, water supply, stormwater runoff, groundwater, sanitary sewers, rivers, lakes and wetlands, there are many aspects to the way Lake Michigan is used, managed, and enjoyed. The Illinois State Water Plan includes these recommended actions to improve Lake Michigan water supply programs and the lake’s economic and environmental resiliency.


  1. Improve public outreach and education related to water use and water conservation measures particularly to disadvantaged and under resourced communities via the Illinois Water Center as described in the Integrated Water Management section.
  2. Simplify and improve annual water allocation use reporting and data submittal processes required by the Level of Lake Michigan Act [615 ILCS 50] and Part 3730 Administrative Rules including reduced data requirements and a shift to water volume-based metrics from fiscal (non-revenue water) based metrics.  Investigate incorporating this data into the state’s Water Inventory Program (IWIP).
  3. Develop a new trend-based approach to regulating a water allocation permittee’s conservation effort related to water loss that recognizes the dynamic nature of water loss and moves away from using a single percentage indicator. Update Part 3730 Administrative Rules accordingly.
  4. Expand IDNR Water Resources Lake Michigan Programs, required to preserve and protect Illinois’ ability to divert water from Lake Michigan, to include full time staff dedicated to working with all communities utilizing Lake Michigan Water, but especially under resourced and disadvantaged communities to assist them with their water supply system improvement plans and funding for those plans.  Also work with the communities to improve water conservation programs and help track the status of a community’s implementation and progress related to “conservation practices.”
  5. Implement water allocation review fees based on the volume of Lake Michigan Water supplied to an allocatee in a given Water Year to support and/or enhance implementation of the Lake Michigan Water Allocation Programs.  The fee structure should be capped at $5000 and graduated so that smaller water users pay less than larger users.  Annual funds generated from the fee would be used to both supplement dedicated program staffing to assist communities with the program reporting, water conservation measures, and water system improvement plan implementation, and support a Lake Michigan Water Allocation Grant Program for smaller (<1mgd) and disadvantaged communities to resource professional consulting services for water use data reporting and/or water system improvement plan management.
  6. Emphasize the need for Northeastern Illinois communities to work as a unified body to “preserve and protect Illinois’ ability to divert water from Lake Michigan,” the state of Illinois (via IDNR) by establishing and leading a workgroup comprised of Lake Michigan water diversion users that focuses on the Illinois Lake Michigan Water Allocation Program (Program) that addresses issues related to allocations and conservation programs.
  7. Partner with the Great Lakes Commission, NOAA, and the US Army Corps of Engineers to explore new means to enhance coastal resiliency with a focus on regional high lake level protection.
  8. Work with Illinois port communities to support, increase, and promote sustainable coastal tourism and recreation opportunities including Great Lakes Cruise line industry access to Illinois ports.
  9. Promote increased maritime transportation of commercial goods between the Great Lakes ports and other national and international ports via the Chicago Area Waterway and Gulf of Mexico by improving economic viability and capacity of Illinois’ Lake Michigan coastal ports, harbors, and marinas.
  10. Protect, enhance, and restore important coastal habitats with an emphasis on public owned and accessible land and wetlands hydrologically connected to Lake Michigan.
  11. Explore the viability of Lake Michigan based offshore wind and/or wave green energy by defining acceptable and unacceptable zones of potential turbine construction that would abide by the Public Trust Doctrine.

Additionally, Illinois is the location of the critical Brandon Road Interbasin Project, a complex ecosystem protection effort designed to prevent upstream movement of invasive carp and other aquatic nuisance species into the Great Lakes from the Illinois Waterway. Pre-construction engineering and design of the project were initiated in 2020, when Illinois signed a design agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District. Updates are available on the Rock Island District’s website.

What we do

Blue Accounting is an information service to track the region’s progress toward shared goals for the Great Lakes. Maintained by the Great Lakes Commission, the information developed by Blue Accounting helps elected officials make sure that policies and programs are effective at protecting the largest fresh surface water system on earth.

What we measure

The Great Lakes Commission’s Blue Accounting team works with experts to identify goals and methods to track progress on key Great Lakes issues. Currently, Blue Accounting is tracking progress on protecting the region from aquatic invasive species and keeping phosphorus out of Lake Erie.