Lake Superior

About Lake Superior

Not only is Lake Superior the largest of the Great Lakes, it also has the largest surface area of any freshwater lake in the world. It contains almost 3,000 cubic miles of water, an amount that could fill all the other Great Lakes plus three additional Lake Eries.

With an average depth approaching 500 feet, Superior also is the coldest and deepest (1,332 feet) of the Great Lakes. The lake stretches approximately 350 miles from west to east, and 160 miles north to south, with a shoreline almost 2,800 miles long. The drainage basin, totaling 49,300 square miles, encompasses parts of Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ontario.

Most of the Superior basin is sparsely populated, and heavily forested, with little agriculture because of a cool climate and poor soils.

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 Superior LAMP, 2015 – 2019, was written by members of the Lake Superior Partnership, including representatives of federal, state, provincial and tribal agencies from both the U.S. and Canada. The LAMP documents:

    • Current environmental conditions;
    • Threats to the ecosystem;
    • Lakewide objectives;
    • Priorities for future scientific investigations; and
    • Actions and projects to address threats and to achieve lakewide objectives.

The Lake Superior Partnership uses the LAMP as a guide to identify, prioritize, and implement actions to restore and protect the Lake Superior ecosystem.

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.