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 Indiana.
Established in 2016, water quality goals and metrics are challenging to achieve because excess phosphorus has accumulated in streams and ditches over many years. Measuring progress is also complicated by the challenge of slowing the flow of water during spring snowmelt and rain.
Tracking the severity of the cyanobacterial harmful algal bloom (HAB) in western Lake Erie.
Rain and snowmelt during the spring (March 1 through July 31) are a driver of bloom severity later in the summer. Progress is tracked by counting the number of years targets for soluble reactive phosphorus loads were met during the past ten year period.
Limiting the annual total phosphorus load is thought to keep oxygen concentrations in the bottom waters of Lake Erie at an acceptable level to avoid hypoxia (these low-oxygen areas are sometimes referred to as “dead zones." Progress is tracked by counting the number of years targets for total phosphorus loads were met during the past ten year period.
Lake Erie jurisdictions required to create Domestic Action Plans pursuant to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement are currently implementing those plans, including strategies reduce phosphorus contributions to Lake Erie
Progress is reported by metric
Preventing the introduction of new non-native species is the most cost-effective approach to minimize future threats from AIS. Prevention activities aim to reduce the uptake, movement and introduction of non-native species, and may be applied to any of the pathways that introduce AIS into the Great Lakes basin: trade in live organisms, recreational activities, shipping, and canals and waterways.
The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers identified and agreed to prohibit 21 "Least Wanted" aquatic invasive species. Blue Accounting tracks how many of those species are regulated in each jurisdiction, as well as related policies.
Blue Accounting tracks regulatory and non-regulatory approaches used across the region to ensure boaters take specific actions to reduce the risk of spreading aquatic invasive species. No target is currently defined for this metric.
target not defined
Early detection (i.e., monitoring) and response programs are intended to detect new non-native species early while populations are still localized. Early detection increases the likelihood that work to contain, control, and ideally eradicate new populations will be effective. A comprehensive basin-wide approach is needed to coordinate and guide detection and response efforts.
Blue Accounting is reporting on locations in the Great Lakes where surveillance for aquatic invasive species is a priority.
More than 185 non-native species are established in the Great Lakes, some of which are considered invasive and are causing ecological and/or economic damage. While significant progress is being made to prevent the introduction and establishment of new AIS, damaging populations of AIS that already exist should be managed to reduce their negative impacts.
Additional Information about Indiana
Indiana’s Lake Michigan shoreline is small but powerful, as the state has one of the most robust maritime economies in the country. The state’s 43 miles of shoreline are responsible for producing 43 percent of U.S. business revenues generated by Great Lakes shipping and over 25 percent of the country’s steel. As the largest steel-producing state, Indiana relies on Great Lakes shipping for delivery of vital raw materials that fuel steel mills at East Chicago, Gary and Burns Harbor. The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor is a state-run deepwater port that is a leader in handling ocean carriers, 1,000-foot lake vessels and inland river barges.
The Great Lakes maritime shipping industry sustains over 66,000 jobs for Indiana residents and the state’s Great Lakes shipping terminals handle roughly 30 million tons of cargo each year. Additionally, Lake Michigan drives a recreational boating industry that contributes $2 billion to Indiana’s economy each year. A vibrant sport fishing industry accounts for an annual value of over $1 billion. The Indiana Dunes parks and beaches attract roughly 1.8 million visitors each year.
Groundwater level monitoring within the Great Lakes basin
There are thirteen stations that measure groundwater levels within Indiana’s portion of the Great Lakes basin. The information collected is helpful for determining how groundwater levels fluctuate due to seasonal conditions, precipitation cycles, drought and flood events, and water use. Groundwater level data is also useful for water supply planning and management studies where increasing water demand is anticipated.
Ten of the thirteen stations are included in the Indiana Volunteer Groundwater Monitoring Network (VMN). This unique partnership between the United States Geological Survey, Indiana Department of Natural Resources and numerous private-sector and municipal partners provides quality-assured data and enhances water resources monitoring throughout Indiana. More information regarding the VMN can be found here: https://www.usgs.gov/centers/ohio-kentucky-indiana-water-science-center/science/indiana-volunteer-groundwater-monitoring.
To view groundwater level data and information within the Great Lakes basin, please visit any of the following monitoring stations:
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.