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By the numbers: 2023 Michigan State of the Great Lakes Report
January 11, 2024
When words alone can’t describe Michiganders’ deep ties to the Great Lakes, numbers help.
The Office of the Great Lakes (OGL) in the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) prepares the Michigan State of the Great Lakes Report for the Legislature each year on behalf of the governor. The report focuses on accomplishments, challenges, initiatives – and, yes, numbers – related to the lakes and freshwater resources and ecosystems.
Here’s a sampling of numerical facts and figures from the latest report, released at the end of 2023:
- 17% increase in annual precipitation: The amount measured in the Great Lakes region since 1951. Climate models project the region will see a greater increase in total precipitation than most other regions in North America. EGLE’s Water Resources Division responded in fall 2023 with a new Climate Change Implementation Plan to increase the resiliency of Michigan’s water infrastructure.
- 20 invasive carp: A risk assessment finds that as few as 10 males and 10 females in the Great Lakes could establish a reproducing population. Michigan supports a planned barrier system to prevent entry by carp through the Chicago Area Waterway System.
- 52% greenhouse gas reduction: The MI Healthy Climate Plan interim 2030 goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels on the way to carbon neutrality by 2050. The strategy includes conserving 30% of Michigan’s land and water by 2030. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and partners including the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians and The Nature Conservancy held a fall 2023 summit on this “30 by 30” strategy.
- 54 Beneficial Use Impairments (BUI): The number remaining in Michigan’s polluted Areas of Concern (AOC). In May 2023, restoration of two BUIs in the Muskegon Lake AOC moved Michigan past the halfway point toward restoring 111 BUIs in the state’s 14 original AOCs. A “moonshot” goal targets 2030 for completing most of the work to delist Michigan’s 11 remaining AOCs.
- 55 years of international bonding over lakes: In November 2023, Michigan and Japan’s Shiga Prefecture Government – sister states since 1968 – presented together at the 19th World Lake Conference at the International Policy Forum in Hungary on fostering the next generation of water stewards, workers, and leaders.
- 80 plus public harbors and marinas: Facing challenges such as fluctuating water levels, aging infrastructure, and economic shifts, these facilities can benefit from the updated Sustainable Small Harbors Tools and Tactics Guidebook by OGL, Michigan Sea Grant, and partners.
- 100% water service line replacement: The City of Benton Harbor reached this milestone in October 2023 when it finished replacing more than 4,500 lead water lines serving residents. It’s one of many infrastructure improvements financed with assistance from through the state’s MI Clean Water Plan.
- 1,200-foot lock: The newest ship passage under construction at the Soo Locks will accommodate the largest freighters on the Great Lakes, helping to ensure uninterrupted iron ore shipments that fuel the U.S. economy.
- $100,000 water conservation study: The OGL allocated funding for a study to identify innovations in water conservation best practices that can benefit Michigan’s water sectors and support long-term water resource sustainability. EGLE awarded the Alliance for Water Efficiency an $89,648 grant to carry out the project.
- $506,000 maritime grant program: The Fresh Coast Maritime Challenge program Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced in April 2023 awarded its first round of grants to six companies planning to decarbonize and electrify Michigan marinas and watercraft.
- $7.1 million for groundwater data: The state’s competitive Information Technology Investment Fund supports a planned Groundwater Data Management System to improve understanding of groundwater science in the Great Lakes region, increase transparency in water use decisions, and raise awareness of the importance of data and the value of good stewardship.
- $7.2 million plus for Ox Creek: Grant support continues to grow for restoring and redeveloping the Ox Creek corridor in and around Benton Harbor. Local leaders have teamed up with county, regional, academic, federal, and state partners including the OGL to create a vibrant, healthy corridor with trails and bridges, commercial development, housing opportunities, and more.
- $15 million for smart agriculture: Michigan’s bipartisan 2024 budget includes funding to support soil health and climate-smart and regenerative agriculture that can help reduce phosphorus runoff that feeds harmful algal blooms in western Lake Erie. The goal is a 40% reduction in phosphorus by 2025 under an agreement by Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario.
- $30 million plus for fish hatcheries: The bipartisan 2023 state budget included funding for maintenance in six hatcheries among fisheries management measures to support Michigan’s multibillion-dollar sport fishery.
- $932 million plus in water infrastructure projects: Loans from state revolving funds backed 71 wastewater, stormwater, and drinking water infrastructure projects in fiscal year 2023, compared with $352 million and 29 projects just two years earlier. The Clean Water State Revolving Fund has allocated over $6.3 billion to more than 700 projects since 1988, and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund has allocated over $1.8 billion to more than 420 projects since 1998.
Learn more about support for Michigan’s Great Lakes and water resources on the OGL’s webpage.