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 Michigan.
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 Michigan
The state of Michigan is gifted with vast natural water resources and is the only state that has direct access to four of the five Great Lakes. More than 3,000 miles of freshwater coast and 11,000 inland lakes provide Michigan residents, businesses, and visitors with access to nearly 20 percent of the world’s surface freshwater. More than 800,000 Michigan jobs and $49 billion in resulting annual wages are directly linked to the Great Lakes.
Additionally, recreational boating contributes nearly $4 billion in spending to Michigan and creates over 50,000 jobs. The fishing industry results in $2 billion in revenue annually to Michigan; tourism in the state, including birding and beach visits, contribute 326,685 jobs and $37.8 billion. Each of these industries benefits significantly from continued local, state, and federal efforts to protect and restore the critical water resources in Michigan on which they rely.
Michigan’s economy benefits from its proximity to the lakes as a primary source of commerce. Great Lakes shipping, freight/commercial traffic, and warehousing are responsible for over 26,815 jobs and $3.19 billion in total business revenue.1
Protecting the lakes
The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) protects Michigan’s environment and public health by managing air, water, land, and energy resources.
EGLE’s Office of the Great Lakes is a leader in Great Lakes policy development and strategic program implementation to protect, restore, and sustain the Great Lakes watershed. The Office collaborates with partner organizations to support sustainable water use and development of maritime resources, support vibrant and resilient communities, foster water stewardship, and advance science, research, and policy to solve the next generation of water challenges.
Taking Action on Lake Erie
Michigan agencies are working collaboratively together to improve the health of Lake Erie. To reduce the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen entering Lake Erie, Michigan released the Lake Erie Domestic Action Plan (DAP) developed by the Michigan Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development; Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy; and Natural Resources. In conjunction with the DAP, Michigan has developed an Adaptive Management Plan that will allow for a more structured way to learn about the impacts of actions to reach the state’s reduction goals and then use the results of those actions to adjust future paths forward.
Michigan is using the Taking Action on Lake Erie website to provide frequent updates on the planning and implementation of Michigan’s Domestic Action Plan (DAP) and companion Adaptive Management Plan. The state agencies will also be developing joint annual progress reports and two-year work plans, along with five-year DAP updates that will capture lessons learned, spell out commitments of responsible agencies and key partners. Tracking progress through these efforts will help align funding, other resource needs, and research with agency management commitments. This regular and predictable planning, assessment, and reporting cycle, with feedback from a Western Lake Erie Basin science advisory group, is designed to give resource managers and stakeholders more confidence and empowerment in the collaborative process of tackling Lake Erie’s nutrient issues together.
Preventing, Detecting and Controlling Invasive Species
Michigan’s Invasive Species Program is a joint effort of the Michigan departments of Agriculture and Rural Development; Natural Resources; and Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. The Departments share responsibility for aquatic and terrestrial invasive species policy, legislation, regulation and enforcement, education, monitoring, assessment, and control. Each Department and Division has unique expertise and authorities; therefore, interdepartmental collaboration along with partnerships with many other entities is integral to programmatic success to prevent, detect, and control invasive species.
Michigan’s invasive species program priorities include:
- Blocking Invasive carp from entering the Great Lakes basin through the Chicago Area Waterway System
- Preventing the movement of aquatic invasive species via ballast water discharges from ships
- Stopping the movement of invasive species through trade routes including the sale of living organisms as food, bait, pets, food markets, and nursery stock.
- Preventing the movement of invasive hitchhikers through firewood, packaging material, and recreational activities like boating.
- Detecting and responding to new invasive species like Hemlock wooly adelgid, red swamp crayfish, and parrot feather milfoil.
- Controlling widespread species like Phragmites, Japanese knotweed, and Eurasian watermilfoil.
Michigan’s Aquatic Invasive Species State Management Plan outlines the program strategy and accomplishments are summarized in annual reports. Additional information is available at www.Michigan.gov/invasives.
1These statistics were last updated in 2018: https://news.umich.edu/more-than-1-3-million-jobs-82-billion-in-wages-directly-tied-to-great-lakes/
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.