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Exploring the State of the Great Lakes in 2023

Coast to coast to coast to coast, and everywhere in between: That’s the area covered by the 2023 Michigan State of the Great Lakes Report, released today to the Michigan Legislature and the public.

2023 State of the Great Lakes Report


The report by the Office of the Great Lakes (OGL) in Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), explores major accomplishments, issues, and initiatives related to the health and sustainability of the world’s greatest surface freshwater system, including the four Great Lakes that border Michigan.

By state statute, the OGL prepares and submits the annual report to the state Legislature on behalf of the governor. This year’s 42-page report includes 17 articles by experts from state and federal agencies, academia, and the private sector.

The report highlights regions including the Lake Michigan shoreline, the Upper Peninsula, the northern Lower Peninsula, and Southwest and Southeast Michigan, and topics including cleanups of polluted Areas of Concern (AOC), strategies to combat invasive flora and fauna, investments in clean marine transportation and infrastructure, land and water conservation to advance greenhouse gas reduction goals in the MI Healthy Climate Plan, and historic reinvestment in Michigan’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

EGLE Director Phil Roos said the report reinforces Michigan’s national leadership on environmental issues.

“The matchless water resources all around us give Michiganders a unique responsibility and drive to build knowledge and promote stewardship,” Roos said. “They’re a major reason Michigan is at the forefront of environmental protection in the U.S., and this report makes clear we will continue to lead the way.”

The 2023 report is posted on OGL’s webpage along with recent years’ editions.

“While it’s impossible to sum up a subject as vast as the Great Lakes in a single report, the articles represent many areas where people are making a difference for the better,” said EGLE Great Lakes Senior Advisor and Strategist Emily Finnell. “Expect to be informed, inspired, and challenged.”

Here’s a complete list of topics covered in the 2023 report:

  • OGL projects and priorities: Sustainability, climate, community well-being, environmental justice and equity, Michigan’s “blue economy,” Great Lakes literacy, and more.
  • Stewardship lake by lake: Priorities for the four Great Lakes that border Michigan, including collecting water quality data and restoring wetlands and coastal habitat.
  • Areas of Concern: Broadening Public Advisory Councils at the heart of remediation and restoration efforts through the U.S.-Canada AOC program.
  • Ox Creek revitalization: EGLE’s continued support of the community-driven plan for economic revival and environmental justice along the waterway in and around Benton Harbor.
  • Michigan fisheries management: Scientific and economic factors making their marks on Michigan’s freshwater ecosystem, past, present, and future.
  • Aquatic invasive species: Efforts to keep invasive carp out of the Great Lakes and stop a spread of hydrilla, one of the world’s most noxious aquatic plants.
  • Phosphorus reduction in the Western Lake Erie Basin: Focusing on agriculture’s role in improving water quality and reducing harmful algal blooms.
  • Water infrastructure investment: Highlighting new investments that protect public health and the environment after decades of underfunding.
  • A new lock at the Soo: A progress report on construction of a second passage for 1,000-foot freighters that serves as an economic insurance policy.
  • Maritime clean energy and transportation: A sampling of significant developments in electric vessels, clean port facilities, and more.
  • Sustainable small harbors: An update of a Tools and Tactics Guidebook to help communities develop shared visions for sustainable, economically successful waterfronts.
  • Water and land conservation: A closer look at the MI Healthy Climate Plan’s “30 by 30” goal of conserving 30% of Michigan land and water by 2030 to lower carbon emissions.
  • Stormwater standards for water infrastructure: Increasing the capacity of water facilities to address a changing climate, protect health and safety, and reduce flood risks.
  • Coastal resiliency: A multistate study will consider the impact of future conditions on communities, infrastructure, and habitat along the Great Lakes shoreline.
  • Groundwater Data Management System: Turning abundant information into an accessible database to guide responsible groundwater stewardship.
  • Higher education and workforce development: The career-building focus of Lake Superior State University’s new College of Great Lakes Ecology and Education.