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 Wisconsin.
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 Wisconsin
Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)
The state of Wisconsin has three main goals regarding aquatic invasive species. The first goal is to prevent the introduction of new AIS in the Great Lakes basin and Wisconsin. This is done through education and outreach; Wisconsin DNR works with partners to make people aware of the importance of AIS prevention measures. Wisconsin DNR recently has implemented this goal through pathway intervention and local network programs (“pathways” are human assisted ways that AIS enter and disperse in waters and can include maritime commerce, recreational activities, non-recreational fishing and aquaculture, and the trade of live organisms). Pathway intervention will help make new pathway users aware of AIS and help block new introductions of AIS into the Great Lakes basins and the state. The second goal is to contain the spread of AIS in the Great Lakes basin by detecting new species quickly and conducting appropriate response actions. Wisconsin DNR continues to expand early detection and surveillance monitoring within the department and through the new local network programs. The third goal is to control existing population of AIS to minimize harmful impacts. Wisconsin DNR shares its experiences with control actions and provides technical assistance to enhance local networks to better manage existing populations. For additional information, refer to Wisconsin’s Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan and Wisconsin’s Invasive Species Rule, Wis. Admin. Code NR 40.
Wisconsin DNR continues to proactively engage with public water utilities in an effort to protect, quantify, and minimize the impacts of harmful algal blooms which can result from increased nutrient loading to lakes. Wisconsin DNR has collaborated with surface water systems and the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene to conduct microcystin, algal toxin, and cyanobacteria studies on Lake Winnebago water systems. Wisconsin DNR has also used grant funding from EPA to evaluate the role of nutrient pollution and develop models to quantify the effect of proposed management actions designed to reduce harmful algal bloom intensity and frequency at Wisconsin surface water systems. Monitoring from the Lake Winnebago study and cyanotoxin monitoring completed as a part of the EPA’s Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule 4 showed no detects of cyanotoxins in the finished water of the Wisconsin surface water systems, highlighting the capabilities of existing treatment techniques to remove cyanotoxin contaminants, which may be present in the raw water.
Wisconsin adopted phosphorus standards in 2010, incorporating water quality based limits into wastewater permits along with subsequent enabling of innovative permit compliance strategies, including adaptive management and water quality trading. Under adaptive management, permitted facilities may work with landowners, municipalities or counties in their watershed to reduce non-point pollution in lieu of costly facility upgrades. Leadership by the Great Lakes Commission was instrumental in developing Wisconsin’s water quality trading framework, with the first successful trade occurring in 2021. Wisconsin DNR developed specific rules (NR 243) for WPDES permitting of large dairy operations (CAFOs), and all farms regardless of size are required to comply with agricultural standards.
Wisconsin DNR approved 9 key element plans for the state’s highest loading sub-watersheds to support TMDL implementation in the Lower Fox River Basin and Lower Green Bay Phosphorus TMDL (2012) (2012). Recognizing that approximately 50% of the load in the Lower Fox River comes from Lake Winnebago, WDNR developed the Upper Fox Wolf TMDL (approved in 2020), and multiple 9 key element plans are nearing approval. Counties within these basins collaborate by sharing expertise and staff resources. In the Lake Superior Basin, the Lake Superior Collaborative is leading efforts to establish the “Slow the Flow” initiative to minimize sediment and nutrient loading into Lake Superior.
Wisconsin DNR is a partner with the UW-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies in leading the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI). WICCI’s goals are to evaluate climate change impacts on Wisconsin and foster solutions. In fall 2019, Governor Tony Evers launched the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change through Executive Order #52. WICCI subsequently published a report in September 2020, Report to the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change: Strategies to Improve Wisconsin’s Climate Resilience and Readiness. To read about examples highlighting how resiliency has been incorporated in Great Lakes projects, check out the article “Lakes for the long run:
Working together to build resiliency” in the Wisconsin DNR’s 2021 special report, “Wisconsin’s Great Lakes: Vital Assets to Cherish and Champion.”
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.