Blue Accounting launches major effort to protect sources of drinking water in the Great Lakes region

Feb 1, 2018 | News and Announcements

Ann Arbor, Mich.  – Today, the Blue Accounting initiative launched an effort to protect the waters that serve as the source of drinking water for 48 million people within the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River basin. The Great Lakes Commission (GLC), which co-leads Blue Accounting in coordination with The Nature Conservancy, has worked with a binational coalition of water professionals since May 2017 to identify five shared goals for protecting sources of drinking water in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River basin. The coalition includes representatives from state, provincial, and federal agencies, local governments and suppliers of water, academia, nonprofits, and the private sector.  These goals, along with metrics for measuring progress toward achieving the goals, were released on the Blue Accounting website today.

In 2013, the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers called for a new way to evaluate and protect the region’s natural resources as assets critical to our economic, social, and environmental well-being. Blue Accounting answers that call and serves as a transformative model for organizing information in a way that allows Great Lakes decision-makers to determine whether investments in natural resource assets are achieving desired outcomes. One desired outcome is a safe and sustainable supply of drinking water for citizens and businesses.

“Blue Accounting is bringing together some of the region’s best minds to focus on issues that really matter to the people that live here,” said John Linc Stine, Commissioner of Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency and chair of the GLC. “The public expects and deserves reliable access to safe drinking water and this project has enormous potential to demonstrate that communities can work together across political and geographic boundaries to protect their shared source water resources. Today’s announcement of goals and metrics is a critical first step in using the Blue Accounting model to improve transparency, account for drinking water investments and measure progress.”

The five shared goals announced today are:

  • Sources of drinking water are protected from nutrient impacts.
  • All public water supply systems are guided by up‐to‐date management strategies designed to protect source water.
  • Effective systems for spill prevention and response are accessible and in use by diverse stakeholders.
  • Actions are undertaken to improve our ability to monitor and decrease the number and volume of contaminants of emerging concern entering source water from municipal, industrial, commercial, and institutional sources.
  • Great Lakes states and provinces actively engage to build binational consensus on strategies for source water protection across the Great Lakes basin.

To put these goals into action, the coalition – Blue Accounting’s Source Water Initiative – is recruiting suppliers of water, and organizations working to protect local sources of drinking water, to showcase their unique local strategies and investments that support regional achievement of the five shared goals. These “Showcase Communities” will power the Blue Accounting process and support the Source Water Initiative in delivering a big picture view of progress toward reaching the five goals for source water protection.

More information on Blue Accounting’s Source Water Initiative, including metrics for each goal, is available at Blue Accounting receives funding support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, and the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation.

Communities interested in showcasing their local efforts should contact GLC Program Manager Nicole Zacharda for more information. The project intends to launch additional material on the website, including data from Showcase Communities and results, in spring 2018.

The Great Lakes Commission, led by chairman John Linc Stine, commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, is an interstate compact agency established under state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and its residents. The Commission consists of governors’ appointees, state legislators, and agency officials from its eight member states. Associate membership for Ontario and Québec was established through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.” The Commission maintains a formal Observer program involving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests. The Commission offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Learn more at


For media inquiries, please contact Beth Wanamaker,

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