Great Lakes Commission releases report on uses of Great Lakes water in 2021

Jan 13, 2023 | News and Announcements

ANN ARBOR, MI – A report released by the Great Lakes Commission finds that 37.5 billion gallons of water per day were withdrawn from the Great Lakes basin in 2021, representing about a 1% decrease from 2020 withdrawals. According to the 2021 Annual Report of the Great Lakes Regional Water Use Database, thermoelectric power production, public water supply, and industrial use were the primary water use sectors. Only 5% of the total reported water withdrawn was consumed or otherwise lost from the basin. Considering both consumptive use and diversions, the basin gained a total of 156 million gallons of water per day in 2021.

The report’s findings were shared at the December meeting of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Water Resources Regional Body and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Compact Council. Since 1988, the eight states and two provinces in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River basin have submitted water use data to the Great Lakes Commission. The GLC compiles and summarizes these datasets into an annual report, which is presented to the Regional Body and Compact Council.

“The Great Lakes Commission provides an essential regional service by annually coordinating and publishing water use data for Great Lakes jurisdictions,” said Timothy Bruno, Great Lakes Commissioner, coordinator of Great Lakes programs at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and immediate past chair of the Regional Body. “The states and provinces will be confronted with increasingly complex water use questions in the future; we must know how much water we have, how much we’re using, and how much we can expect to be renewed to assure the sustainability of the resource both now and in the future.”

To read the report, visit To view a fact sheet summarizing the 2021 report, click here.

The Great Lakes Commission, led by chair Todd L. Ambs, deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (retired), is a binational government agency established in 1955 to protect the Great Lakes and the economies and ecosystems they support. Its membership includes leaders from the eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces in the Great Lakes basin. The GLC recommends policies and practices to balance the use, development, and conservation of the water resources of the Great Lakes and brings the region together to work on issues that no single community, state, province, or nation can tackle alone. Learn more at


For media inquiries, please contact Beth Wanamaker, [email protected].

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