Lake Michigan

About Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan, the second largest Great Lake by volume with just under 1,180 cubic miles of water, is the only Great Lake entirely within the United States. Approximately 118 miles wide and 307 miles long, Lake Michigan has more than 1,600 miles of shoreline. Averaging 279 feet in depth, the lake reaches 925 feet at its deepest point.

The lake’s northern tier is in the colder, less developed upper Great Lakes region, while its more temperate southern basin contains the Milwaukee and Chicago metropolitan areas. The drainage basin, approximately twice as large as the 22,300 square miles of surface water, includes portions of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Lake Michigan is hydrologically inseparable from Lake Huron, joined by the wide Straits of Mackinac.

Partners working together

In addition to being part of a large, complex system, each Great Lake possesses unique attributes that warrant specifically tailored approaches to restoration and protection. A key mechanism for identifying priorities and coordinating restoration actions at a lake basin scale are Lakewide Action and Management Plans (LAMPs). LAMPs are plans of action to assess, restore, protect and monitor the ecosystem health of each Great Lake and its connecting river system. They provide a mechanism to coordinate the efforts of government and nongovernmental partners working to improve the lake's ecosystem.

LAMPs are called for in the Lakewide Management Annex of the 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Under this binational agreement, Canada and the United States have committed to: “contribute to the achievement of the General and Specific Objective of this Agreement by assessing the status of each Great Lake, and by addressing environmental stressors that adversely affect the Waters of the Great Lakes which are best addressed on a lakewide scale through an ecosystem approach.”

LAMPs are established for each of the five Great Lakes and their connecting river systems, as follows:

The Lake Michigan LAMP, 2008, is an ecosystem-based strategy for protecting and restoring Lake Michigan’s water quality. The LAMP is coordinated by the Lake Michigan Partnership, which is led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with participation from federal, state, tribal and local governments or agencies, and with input from nongovernmental stakeholders and the public. The next LAMP will be issued in 2022 and in the coming years, the Lake Michigan Partnership will be working to assess the state of the lake, measure progress towards LAMP goals and objectives, and promote management

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.