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 New York.
The 2018-2023 U.S. Action Plan for Lake Erie states “In the Eastern basin, the goal is to maintain levels of algae below that constituting a nuisance condition, and to maintain an oligotrophic state, relative algal biomass, and algal species consistent with healthy aquatic ecosystems, in the open waters.” New York is working with binational partners to better understand nutrient conditions in the nearshore and offshore waters of the Eastern basin, and the extent to which the U.S. Action Plan goal is currently being met. At the same time, we are working at the local level to assess tributary nutrient loads to Lake Erie and to identify watershed areas where increased nutrient reduction efforts may be needed. A better understanding of both the internal lake nutrient processes and watershed nutrient loads are needed if we are to maintain the proper balance of nutrients in both nearshore and offshore waters of the Eastern basin that support New York’s fisheries management efforts and water quality program goals.
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.
Progress will be reported by metric
Protect lakes, streams, and groundwater in the Great Lakes basin to ensure safe and sustainable drinking water sources now and in the future.
Tracking the existence of source water protection plans for the region’s community water supplies.
Progress will be reported by metric
Drinking water is effectively treated to protect public health.
Tracking percentages of community water supplies meeting treatment requirements.
Progress will be reported by metric
Reliable water distribution to ensure safe drinking water.
Tracking progress in implementing policies to reduce lead exposure from drinking water sources.
Additional information about New York
New York participates in various binational initiatives under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) intended to better understand nutrient conditions in Lake Erie and, where appropriate, support nutrient and sediment load reduction efforts if needed. To the extent they apply to the Eastern basin of Lake Erie, these binational efforts are integrated into New York’s Great Lakes Action Agenda (GLAA) that guides the state’s actions “to protect, restore, conserve, and enhance the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the waters and associated natural resources within the Great Lakes basin for sustainable use and enjoyment by the people of New York.”
Included amongst the six priority goals of the GLAA, is the goal to “control sediment, nutrient, and pathogen loadings so that drinking water quality, aquatic life, recreational uses, and people are protected.” Priority strategies that support this goal include:
- Identify sources of impairments and implement plans and projects to improve tributary and nearshore water quality.
- Support municipal efforts to protect water quality through land use protection and policy, and water infrastructure improvements.
- Reduce sediment and nutrient runoff from agricultural sources through best management practices (BMPs), comprehensive farm planning, and soil health programs.
- Expand the protection and restoration of riparian buffers to benefit water quality, climate resiliency, and habitat.
Since New York’s first GLAA was released in 2014, numerous partnerships have been formed, programs have been created, and state and federal investments have been secured. A program assessment revealed that progress has been made on over 83% of the actions listed in the original GLAA.
With annual support from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund, New York State agencies and other partners have leveraged over $215 million in federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding since 2010 to implement projects throughout the basin that prevent and clean up toxic contamination, improve nearshore health through reduced nutrient loading, manage invasive species, restore native fish and wildlife habitat, support efforts to educate the next generation, and conduct important research and monitoring to inform management decisions.
Information on New York’s efforts is available through a number of websites, a partial list is provided below:
- NYS Great Lakes Action Agenda
- NYS Lake Erie Nine Element Watershed Management Plan (under development)
- NYS Lake Erie Fisheries Management
- NYS Nonpoint Source Management Program (2020-2025)
- NYS HAB Action Plans
- NYS HAB Mitigation Studies
- NYS HAB Research Guide
- NYS Agricultural Environmental Management Program
- USGS Lake Erie Eastern Basin Tributary Monitoring
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.