Blue Accounting for the Great Lakes

July 2021

Blue Accounting

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“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.”

This free, online database allows you to click through the three main segments of the website: Issues, Resources, and News. You can also look into the background of who Blue Accounting is, how they got started, partners, and services they offer. It is geared towards members of the public, decision-makers, students, research participants, educators, and anyone interested in issues regarding the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Commission and The Nature Conservancy co-lead Blue Accounting and collaborate with federal, state, provincial, local and private sector organizations. This website is currently under construction and has a few hiccups when navigating through.


Issues that Blue Accounting is working on include Aquatic Invasive Species, Coastal Wetlands, Maritime Transportation, Phosphorous Control – ErieStat, and Source Water. Their progress is measured by nine desired outcomes for the Great Lakes region:

Economic and Sustainable Human Use Outcomes
  1. Safe and sustainable domestic water supply
  2. Flourishing and sustainable natural resource-based economies, such as agriculture, aquaculture, nurseries, forestry and commercial fishing
  3. Flourishing and sustainable water-withdrawing economies, such as manufacturing and energy production
  4. Flourishing and sustainable non-consuming water-based economies, such as recreation, tourism and shipping
Social Outcomes
  1. Awareness of water value
  2. Stewardship of, and investment in, water resources
Environmental Outcomes
  1. Functional nearshore and coastal processes
  2. Healthy, diverse and connected habitats
  3. Healthy and abundant wildlife


Blue Accounting has 359 resources in its database. These can be filtered very easily. First, you can search by type of issue (issues mentioned above). Then by the type of resource you are looking for such as article, job, tool, funding opportunity, plan, etc. You can also find resources based on the location — included are all Great Lakes coastal states, connecting channels, and Canada. Next, you can filter by topic: agriculture, restoration, monitoring, and research, etc. Finally, these resources can be arranged from newest to oldest, or A-Z. There are 26 tools that can be found in these resources. Many of these tools are also hosted on the NOAA Digital Coast webpage, some of which have broken links. While there are some great tools available many of them are location specific and others cost money to use.

Two tools, in particular, stood out:

The Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Decision Support Tool (CWDST) “allows users to interact with a variety of information relevant to coastal wetland conservation and management. Through the decision support tool, users can select and rank coastal wetlands within Western Lake Erie and Saginaw Bay based on a variety of filters, including ownership, area, population, structural, chemical, and physical characteristics”.

The Great Lakes Coastal Reporting Tool allows people to report on coastal issues “including erosion sites, habitat impacts, polluted runoff, dumping sites and improper off-road vehicle use. The inventory is designed for the entire shoreline of Lake Superior, as well as all Great Lakes coastal areas in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan; Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The Superior Watershed Partnership, along with other partners, will use the inventory to prioritize sites and seek resources to address coastal impacts.”


The news section of Blue Accounting has a running list of news articles that have been published by their team. Unfortunately, the most recent news article is from over two years ago. The news article “Launching a Comprehensive Coastal Wetlands Acreage Database” was published July 16, 2019.