You are on page 1of 42

IDENTIFYING FUTURE IMPROVEMENTS TO GREAT

LAKES ECOSYSTEM & HUMAN HEALTH INDICATORS

A Contractor Report Submitted to the International


Joint Commissions Science Advisory Boards
Research Coordination Committee

Prepared by:

April, 2016

Thispageintentionallyleftblankasthisreportismeanttobeprinteddoublesided.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
ThisworkwascarriedoutwithfundingfromtheInternationalJointCommission(IJC)byaproject
consultingteamledbyEnvironmentalConsulting&Technology,Inc.(ECT).
LizhuWang,VicServeiss,GlennBenoy,andAnkitaMandeliaoftheIJCstaff,providedleadershipand
usefulguidanceforthisproject,andaredeeplyappreciated.InadditiontotheIJCstaff,theIJCGreat
LakesBoardsIndicatorWorkGroup,withthefollowingmembership,wascontinuallyengagedinthe
project:
Dr.IanCampbell,AgricultureandAgrifood,
Mr.KyleMcCune,U.S.ArmyCorpsof
Canada
Engineers
Mr.GavinChristie,Fisheries&Oceans,
Mr.DalePhenicie,CouncilforGreatLakes
Canada
Industries
Dr.JohnDellinger,ConcordiaUniversity
Dr.HowardShapiro,TorontoPublicHealth
Wisconsin
Dr.ThomasSpeth,U.S.Environmental
Dr.ElaineFaustman,Universityof
ProtectionAgency
Washington
Mr.DavidUllrich,GreatLakesandSt
LawrenceCitiesInitiative
Mr.NormGrannemann,U.S.Geological
Survey
Dr.ChrisWinslow,OhioStateUniversity
Dr.LucindaJohnson,Universityof
Minnesota

Theseexpertsparticipatedinmonthlyphonecalls,providedsubstantiveandconstructivecriticism,and
guidedthedirectionoftheproject.Theirassistanceandoversightisgratefullyacknowledged.
Last,butnottheleast,ourutmostappreciationtoanumberoftechnicalexperts(identifiedinSection4)
thatparticipatedinaworkshopthatwaskeytocompletingthisproject.
Forpurposesofcitationofthisreport,pleaseusethefollowing:

IdentifyingFutureImprovementstoGreatLakesEcosystemandHumanHealthIndicators,S.K.
SinhaandR.Pettit,EnvironmentalConsulting&TechnologyInc.Report,35pp,April2016.

AnyrelatedcommunicationscanbedirectedtoSanjivSinha,Ph.D.,atssinha@ectinc.com.

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Section
1.0

2.0

3.0

4.0

5.0

Page

EXECUTIVESUMMARY1
PROJECTBACKGROUND4
2.1
GREATLAKESWATERQUALITYAGREEMENT(GLWQA)4
2.2
IJCSPROPOSEDWATERQUALITYINDICATORS5

2.2.1 HumanHealthIndicators6

2.2.2 EcosystemIndicators6
2.3
STATEOFTHEGREATLAKESINDICATORS&ITSRELEVANCE8
2.4
DATAAVAILABILITYFORINDICATORS9

2.4.1SpatialAvailabilityoftheData9

2.4.2TemporalAvailabilityoftheData9
STATUSOFIJCINDICATORSANDTHEIRMETRICS10
3.1
IJCINDICATORSWITHFULLDATA10
3.2
IJCINDICATORSWITHINCOMPLETEDATA11

3.2.1 BiologicalHazardIndexforSourceWater12

3.2.2 ChemicalIntegrityofSourceWater12

3.2.3 IllnessRiskatGreatLakesBeaches13

3.2.4 SourceofRisksatGreatLakesBeaches14

3.2.5 ContaminantLevelsinGreatLakesEdibleFishSpecies14

3.2.6 Abundance&DistributionofFisheating&ColonialNestingBirds15

3.2.7 CoastalHabitatShorelineAlterationIndex(SAI)15

3.2.8 FishSpeciesofInterest16

3.2.9 PhosphorousLoads&InLakeconcentrations16

3.2.10 Harmful&NuisanceAlgae17

3.2.11 ContaminantsinGroundwater17

3.2.12 TributaryPhysicalIntegrity17
3.3
SUMMARY19
WORKSHOPINDICATOREVALUATION20
4.1
IJCINDICATORSWORKSHOP:GOALS&ATTENDEES20
4.2
ADOPTEDPROCEDURE21
4.3
SUMMARY21
WORKSHOPFINDINGSAREVIEWOFGAPS&PRIORITIEZEDINDICATORS22
5.1
WORKSHOPFINDINGS22

5.1.1 AlgalBlooms23

5.1.2 Biological/ChemicalIntegrityofSourceWater24

5.1.3 AquaticInvasiveSpeciesInvasionRates&Impacts24

5.1.4 CoastalShorelineAlternationIndex25

5.1.5 LowerFoodWeb26

5.1.6 PhosphorusLoads&InlakeConcentrations26

5.1.7 FishSpeciesofInterest27

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

ii

5.1.8 IllnessRiskatGreatLakesBeaches27

5.1.9 ContaminantsinGroundWater28

5.1.10 SourcesofRisks28

5.2
GAPSANALYSESANDFINALLISTOFINDICATORS29

5.3
ADDITIONALMEASURESFORFUTUREINCLUSION34

6.0
WORKCITED 35

ListofFigures
FigureE1:Bubblechartsummarizingthefindingsoftheworkshop3
Figure21:ChangesinGLWQAovertime4
Figure51:Bubblechartsummarizingthefindingsoftheworkshop23

ListofTables
Table21:NineObjectivesofthe2012GLWQA5
Table22:IJCsHumanHealthIndicators6
Table23:IJCsEcosystemIndicators7
Table31:IJCIndicatorswithFullData10
Table32:IJCIndicatorswithPartialorNoData11
Table33:SummaryofDataGapsforIndicatorBiologicalHazardIndexforSourceWater12
Table34:SummaryofDataGapsforIndicatorChemicalIntegrityofSourceWater13
Table35:SummaryofDataGapsforIndicatorIllnessRiskatGreatLakesBeaches13
Table36:SummaryofDataGapsforIndicatorSourceofRisksatGreatLakesBeaches14
Table37:SummaryofDataGapsforIndicatorContaminantsinGreatLakesEdibleFishSpecies14
Table38:SummaryofDataGapsforIndicatorAbundanceandDistributionofFisheating

AndColonialNestingBirds15
Table39:SummaryofDataGapsforIndicatorCoastalHabitatShorelineAlterationIndex15
Table310:SummaryofDataGapsforIndicatorFishSpeciesofInterest16
Table311:SummaryofDataGapsforIndicatorPhosphorousLoadsandInlake

Concentrations16
Table312:SummaryofDataGapsforIndicatorAlgalBlooms17
Table313:SummaryofDataGapsforIndicatorContaminantsinGroundwater17
Table314:SummaryofDataGapsforIndicatorTributaryPhysicalIntegrity18
Table41:ListofIJCIndicatorsWorkshopAttendees20
Table51:PrioritizedListofIJCIndicators22
Table52:FinalListofStateoftheGreatLakes(SOGL)andIJCIndicators30

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

iii

1.0 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

FundedbytheInternationalJointCommission(IJC),thisprojectwasafivemontheffort(December2015
April2016)thatsoughttoidentifyimprovementstotheGreatLakesecosystemandhumanhealth
indicators.Theprojecthadthreeobjectives:a)assessthecompletenessofdataforvariousmetricsof
thetwentyoneIJCindicators,b)assessthegapsoffortythreeStateoftheGreatLakes(SOGL)metrics
visvisthenineobjectivesoftheGreatLakesWaterQualityAgreement(GLWQA),andc)assesswhich
IJCindicatorsandmetricsmaybeabletofillthosegaps.

Choosingeffectiveindicatorsforhumanandecosystemhealthisvitaltothelongtermviabilityof
programsthatprotectandrestoretheGreatLakesecosystem.Thisneedwasfirstrecognizedbythe
GLWQAamendmentof1987thatincludedmultipleecosystemandhumanhealthprioritiesundera
singledocument.Afterthatlandmarkexpansion,multiplegroupsledbytheUnitedStates
EnvironmentalProtectionAgency(EPA)andEnvironmentCanada(EC)(nowEnvironmentalandClimate
ChangeCanadaorECCC),undertheStateoftheLakesEcosystemConference(SOLEC),havedeveloped
indicatorsthataddresstheGLWQApriorities.Groupsofexpertswerealsoconvenedbythe
InternationalJointCommission(IJC)toevaluatetheeffectivenessoftheSOLECindicatorsat
communicatingthehealthoftheGreatLakestoageneralaudience.Oneofthelargestchallengeshas
beencreatingasystemidentifyingindicatorsandmeasureswithdatafromthatworksacrossthetwo
countries,multiplestatesandprovinces,andlocalgovernmentsthatcoversedifferencesamongthefive
GreatLakes.

Tomeetsuchchallenges,theIJChasidentifiedecosystemandhumanhealthindicatorsthrough
consultationwiththeGreatLakesregionalexperts.Tomeetthemandatesofthe2012GLWQAon
assessingprogress,theIJChasrecommendedthatthegovernmentsofUnitedStatesandCanada
considerusingthesetofindicatorsidentifiedbytheIJCexpertinvolvementprocess.Thegovernments
haveacceptedthoseindicatorsthathaveavailabledatafortheassessmentofprogressin2017Stateof
theGreatLakes(SOGL)report.TheIJCisinterestedinidentifyingpossibleimprovementforthefuture
assessmentofprogress(SOGLreportin2020)byreviewingtheindicatorsidentifiedbytheIJCthathave
notbeenusedbythegovernmentduetotheirunavailabilityofdata.Morespecifically,indicatorsand
metricsthatwerenotadoptedbythePartieswerereviewedintermsofavailabilityofdataandeaseof
implementation.

Thisprojectsoughttoidentifyareasofassessmentofprogressforimprovementthroughtheuseof
expertworkinggroupthathelpedidentifywhichindicatorslackdataandwerenotintegraltoaccurate
assessmentofGreatLakessystems.Overall,theprojectfoundthatthefollowingnineIJCindicatorshave
detaileddata,andthuscanbeusedeffectively:
PersistentBioaccumulativeToxics(PBT)in
Lowerfoodweb
biota
Aquaticinvasivespecies(AIS)
Chemicalsofmutualconcern(CMC)in
Waterlevels
water
Watertemperature
AirdepositionofCMC
Landuses
Coastalwetlands
IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

Fortheremaining12indicators,thereweresignificantlimitationstoacquiringfulldatathatincluded
someofthefollowingreasons:
Datadoesnotcurrentlyexistandhighbarriersexisttodevelopthedata(federallawmay
precludepublicknowledgeofsourcewaterlocationsandintakes).
Thedatadoesexistformanyareasonbothsidesofthelake,buthasntbeenbroughttogether
inasingleformat.Theestimatedefforttocompletelyintegratedatasetsacrossnational
boundariesandformatsisconsiderable.
Majorgapsexistwithnotemporalinformationattachedtosurveys.
Multipleagenciesandjurisdictionscollectdatausingdifferentsamplingmethods,making
comparisonacrossyearsandacrossstateschallengingandtimeconsuming.
Somestatesandprovinceshavemadeimportantstridestowardsmappingbiological
characteristics,howeverthisprogresshasnotbeenuniform.
Dataforsturgeonandotherspeciesislackingthroughoutthebasin.Thesespecieswillneedto
beassembledfromsurveydatathatisfisheryindependent.
ForPhosphorusloadingdata,certainareashavefinescaleestimates,whileotherareashave
largescale,averagedestimates.

InNovemberof2015,aninvitationwassenttonearly35expertsintheregiontoparticipateinthe
indicatorreviewandprioritizationprocess.Overhalfofthoseinvitedwereabletoattendtheworkshop
heldonDecember17and18,2015,inAnnArbor,Michigan.Duringthisworkshop,factorsfordeciding
whichindicatorstorecommendincludedcompletenessofdataaswellasdiscussionsrelatedtothe
relevancetoecologicalfunction,dataquality,measurementerror,discriminatorypower,linksto
thresholds,andlinkagetomanagementactionetc.

Inaddition,oftheremainingtwelveindicatorswithpartialornodata,theexpertsprioritizedeightfor
theirrelevancetomeasuringthehealthoftheGreatLakes.Thetopnineindicatorsare:
AlgalBlooms
FishSpeciesofInterest
IllnessRiskatGreatLakesBeaches
BiologicalHazards/ChemicalIntegrityof
SourceWater
ContaminantsinGroundWater
CoastalShorelineAlterationIndex
SourcesofRiskatGreatLakesBeaches
Phosphorus(P)LoadsandInlake
oncentrations

Insummary,thefollowingthreeindicatorswithno/incompletedatawerenotconsideredahighpriority
bytheworkgroup:
AbundanceandDistributionofFishEatingColonialNestingBirds
ContaminantLevelsinGreatLakesEdibleFishSpecies
TributaryPhysicalIntegrity

Notethatwhileprioritizingtheindicatorswithfullornodata,expertsalsorankedlowerfoodweband
aquaticinvasivespecies,indicatorspreviouslyidentifiedwithfulldata,ashighpriorityindicators.This
discussionwasnotmeanttoconveythattheotherindicatorswithfulldatahadlowerpriorities.

AdiscussionwasalsocarriedouttoassesstheefficientpresentationofdatabytheIJCandSOGL
indicators.AsummaryoftheexpertdeliberationsispresentedinFigureE1.

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators


FigureE1:Bubblechartsummarizingthefindingsoftheworkshop
(notethatthesizeofthecirclesisproportionaltothetimecommitmentscoresassignedbytheattendees)

PLoadsandinlake
concentrations

Sourcesofrisk

2.5

Harmfuland
nuisancealgae

Contaminantsin
groundwater
AIS
Illnessrisk

EffortNeeded(1=
LowEffort,3=High
Effort)

Coastalshoreline
Lowerfoodweb
2

Biological/chemical
concentrations

Fishspeciesof
interest

1.5
1

Priority(1=NotImportant,5=ExtremelyImportant)

WorkshopattendeesagreedthatonlyfourofthenineobjectivesoftheGLWQAwerefullyaddressed,
andadditionalinputwasneededforthefollowing:
AssessmentofthequalityofdrinkingwatersourcesintheGreatLakes(pursuanttoObjective1)
AssessmentofrecreationalimpairmentsintheGreatLakes(pursuanttoObjective2)
AssessmentoftheintegrityofthefoodwebintheGreatLakes(pursuanttoObjective5)
AssessmentofnonwetlandshorelinehabitatsintheGreatLakes(pursuanttoObjective5)
AssessmentofnutrientsintheGreatLakes(pursuanttoObjective6)
AssessmentofthecurrentstatusofinvasivespeciesintheGreatLakes(pursuanttoObjective7).

Toaddressthesegaps,theattendeesagreedtotheadditionofthefollowing:
BiologicalHazardsandChemicalIntegrityofSourceWater(Objective1)
IllnessriskatGreatLakesbeaches(Objective2)
UndefinedBiologicalShorelineMetric(Objective5)
Nearshorepredators(Objective5)
Nutrientsinlakes(openwater)(Objective6)
Plankton,AsianCarps,RoundGoby,andRuffe(Objective7)

Overall,thisreporttotheIJCsResearchCoordinationCommittee(RCC)hasrecommended
improvementsoutlinedabovetothemonitoringandindicatorstobeusedbeyond2016,andprovides
thebackgroundandrationalefortheIJCinitsTriennialReporttomakearecommendationtotheParties
onthisissue.

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

2.0 PROJECT BACKGROUND

2.1
GREATLAKESWATERQUALITYAGREEMENT(GLWQA)
TheGreatLakesWaterQualityAgreement(GLWQA)isacommitmentbetweentheUnitedStatesand
CanadatorestoreandprotectthewatersoftheGreatLakes.GLWQAprovidesaframeworkfor
identifyingbinationalprioritiesandimplementingactionsthatimprovewaterquality.TheUnitedStates
andCanadafirstsignedtheagreementin1972.Atthetime,thefocusofGLWQAwasnutrientloadings
withinthelakes.Itwasamendedin1978,1983,1987,and2012.The1978and1983revisionsofthe
GLWQAwasaimedtoreflectamorenuancedunderstandingoftheecologyanddynamicswithinthe
GreatLakes,andtocodifyotherprioritiesbeyondreducingalgalblooms.Whenrevisedagainin1987,
GLWQAincludedAreasofConcern(AOCs),aswellasparametersthatmeasuredprogresstowards
restoringbeneficialusestotheGreatLakes.

Figure21:ChangesinGLWQAovertime

Mostrecently,in2012,theGLWQAwaschangedbyprotocoltoenhancewaterqualityprogramsthat
improvethechemical,physical,andbiologicalintegrityoftheGreatLakes.The2012agreement
facilitatedactionsagainstthreatstoGreatLakeswaterqualityandstrengthenedmeasurestoanticipate
andpreventecologicalharm.Newprovisionsaddressedaquaticinvasivespecies,habitatdegradation,
andtheeffectsofclimatechange,whilesupportingcontinuedworkonexistingthreatssuchasharmful
algae,toxicchemicals,andballastandwastedischargesfromvesselstotheenvironmentintheGreat
LakesBasinaswellashowthesethreatsmayaffecthumanhealth.

The2012protocoloftheGLWQAincludesninegeneralobjectives,whicharepresentedinTable21.

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

Table21:Nineobjectivesofthe2012GLWQA

GENERALOBJECTIVES
OFTHEGLWQA
Objective1
Objective2
Objective3
Objective4
Objective5
Objective6

Objective7

Objective8
Objective9

DESCRIPTION
Beasourceofsafe,highqualitydrinkingwater.
Allowforswimmingandotherrecreationaluseunrestrictedbyenvironmentalquality
concerns.
Allowforhumanconsumptionoffishandwildlifeunrestrictedbyconcernsduetoharmful
pollutants.
Befreefrompollutantsinquantitiesorconcentrationsthatcouldbeharmfultohuman
health,wildlife,oraquaticorganisms,viadirectorindirectexposurethroughthefoodchain.
Supporthealthyandproductivewetlandsandotherhabitatstosustainresilientpopulations
ofnativespecies.
Befreefromnutrientsthatdirectlyorindirectlyenterthewaterasaresultofhumanactivity,
inamountsthatpromotegrowthofalgaeandcyanobacteriathatinterferewithaquatic
ecosystemhealth,orhumanuseoftheecosystem.
Befreefromtheintroductionandspreadofaquaticinvasivespeciesandfreefromthe
introductionandspreadofterrestrialinvasivespeciesthatadverselyimpactthequalityofthe
watersoftheGreatLakes.
Befreefromtheharmfulimpactofcontaminatedgroundwater.
Befreefromothersubstances,materials,orconditionsthatmaynegativelyimpactthe
chemical,physical,orbiologicalintegrityofthewatersoftheGreatLakes.

2.2
IJCSPROPOSEDWATERQUALITYINDICATORS
TheGLWQAchargestheIJCwiththeresponsibilitytoassessandreporttheprogressofthegovernments
ofCanadaandtheUnitedStatesregardingtheirimplementationoftheAgreement.Tomeetthischarge,
theIJCestablishedathreeyearpriority(20122015)todevelopapproachesandtoolsforundertaking
theassessmentofGreatLakesIndicators.TheIJC(2014)reportonecosystemindicatorswasasynthesis
ofextensivescientificanalysesandprovidedadditionaltechnicalanalysisbuildingupontheworkofthe
governmentsofU.S.andCanadaonindicatorsandrecommendationsofIJCstwo2013binational
workgroupreportstitledGreatLakesEcosystemIndicatorsSummaryReport:theFewThatTellUsthe
MostandTechnicalReportonEcosystemIndicatorsAssessmentofProgressTowardsRestoringthe
GreatLakes20122015PriorityCycle.

The2014reportconcludedthatanassessmentoftheAgreementsprogressshouldincludemeasuring
andreportingquantifiableindicatorsrelatedtotheobjectives.Scientificallysoundindicatorsapplied
consistentlyovertimeweredeemedessentialtotrackchangesinGreatLakeswaterquality(IJC2014).

IJCsTriennialReporthasthedualpurposeofassessingprogressandoutliningtheprogrameffectiveness
bythegovernmentswithintheGreatLakes.Thereportinggoalservesasanoverarchingsummaryofthe
GreatLakessystemthatiseasilycommunicabletothepublicanddecisionmakers,andnecessitates
usingtheleastnumberofindicatorsthatwouldtellthemostaboutthehealthoftheGreatLakes.These
indicatorsneededtobescientificallysoundaswellasabletobeappliedconsistentlyovertime,ensuring
continuedmonitoringeffortsthroughouttheregion(IJC2014).Identifyingalimitedsetofindicators
wouldalsoallowfundingtobeprioritizedaseffectivelyaspossibletosupportlongtermmonitoring
efforts(IJC2014).

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

Tothisend,theIJCcreatedalistof21indicatorstosummarizeprogresswithintheGreatLakes,drawing
fromtheSOGLindicatorsinsomecases,andinotherscreatingindicatorstoensurecapturingvarious
aspectsofthenineobjectives.TheIJCalsorecommendedthatthenewsetofindicatorsbeincludedin
futureSOGLreports,whendataareavailable,toimprovetrackingofGLWQAobjectives(IJC2014).

IJCsindicatorscanbedividedintotwogeneraltypes.ThefirsttypeaddressesGLWQAObjectives13
andprimarilyfocusonmonitoringfactorsthatimpacthumanhealth.Thesecondtypeofindicator
focusesontheremainingobjectives(fourthroughnine)andprimarilymeasuretheGreatLakes
ecosystem.Thesetwotypesaredescribedbelow.

2.2.1 HumanHealthIndicators
IJCshumanhealthindicatorsrangefromdirectmeasuresofwaterqualitytotheabilitytousetheGreat
Lakesforrecreation,andarepresentedinTable22.

Table22:IJCsHumanHealthIndicators(Bodkinetal2014)

TYPEOFECOSYSTEM
INDICATOR

INDICATOR

PURPOSE

HumanHealth

BiologicalHazardsofSource
Water

Examinestrendsintheendemic,seasonal,andepisodic
presenceofsewageandagriculturaleffluentandother
contaminatedrunoffintheGreatLakes,andexamines
seasonalandgeographicdistributionofselectedhuman
pathogens
Examinestrendsinseasonalandgeographicvariabilityor
targetedchemicalcompoundsinwatersusedassourcesfor
regionaldrinkingwatersupply,andassessesthelevelofhazard
andinferstheimpactofchemicalcontaminantsinthedrinking
watersources
Inferspotentialharmtohumanhealthatroutinelymonitored
beachesthroughuseoffecalindicatororganismsassurrogates
forpathogens
IdentifiespollutionsourcesatindividualbeachesintheGreat
LakesintheUnitedStateandCanada
Measuresthecontaminantlevelsinthevariousfishspecies
(LakeTrout,Walleye,YellowPerch,Whitefish,andSmallmouth
Bass)thatareroutinelyconsumedwithintheGreatLakes

ChemicalIntegrityofSource
Water

IllnessRiskatGreatLakes
Beaches
SourceofRisksatGreatLakes
Beaches
ContaminantLevelsinGreat
LakesEdibleFishSpecies

2.2.2 EcosystemIndicators
The16ecosystemindicatorsthatIJChasdefinedcanbefurthersubdividedintothefollowingthree
subcategoriespresentedinTable23.

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

Table23:IJCsEcosystemIndicators(GreatLakesEcosystemIndicatorsProjectReport2013)

PhysicalIndicators

TYPEOFECOSYSTEM
INDICATOR

INDICATOR

PURPOSE

CoastalhabitatShoreline
AlterationIndex(SAI)
Extent,Composition,and
QualityofCoastalWetlands

Tomeasureofthelengthofhumanmodifiedshorelinethatis
physicallyandbiologicallyunfavorabletoGreatLakesecosystems
TrackstrendsinGreatLakescoastalwetlandecosystemhealthby
measuringwetlandareaandextent,monitoringwaterquality,and
calculatingconditionindicesforvegetation,macroinvertebrates,
fish,plants,amphibians,andbirds
Trackstrendsintheaverage,timing,andvariabilityoflakewater
levels
Examinesthephysicalconditionsoftributariesthroughoutthe
GreatLakeswatershedsincludingdailydischargemeasurements,a
measureofconnectivitytoreceivingwaters,totalmainstem
lengths,andameasureofturbidity
Monitorsthetemperaturefluctuationsofthelakesthroughtime
Assesseslandcoverchangeaswellastherateofhabitat
fragmentationwithintheGreatLakes
Trackstherateofinvasionandstatusandimpactsofaquatic
invasivespecies(AIS)intheGreatLakes
MonitorsthehealthofGreatLakeslowerfoodwebbytracking
phytoplankton,zooplankton,Mysis,benthos,andpreyfishes
Measuresstatusandtrendsinpopulationabundanceand
recruitmentforlaketrout,lakewhitefish,walleye,lakesturgeon,
andasuiteofnearshorepredators(northernpike,smallmouth
bass,largemouthbass,andyellowperch)
MeasuresthechemicalintegrityofGreatLakessourcewaterand
impactsfromagriculturalandindustrialactivities,pointsource
contaminationbywastewatertreatmentfacilitiesanduncontained
landfills,andindustrialpopulationinducedsprawlbymonitoring
thepresencesofpesticides(atrazine),endocrinedisrupting
compounds(estrogenicityassay),andharmfulalgalblooms
(cyanotoxinlevels).
Measuresthebiologicalintegrityoffisheatingandcolonialbirds,
and
linksthebiologicalintegritytobothchemicalintegrityandphysical
integrity(indicatorsofphysicalandchemicalstress)
Assessestheimpactofchemicalsofmutualconcern(CMCs)on
GreatLakesaquaticecosystems

WaterLevels
TributaryPhysicalIntegrity

WaterTemperature
LandCover

BiologicalIndicators

AquaticInvasiveSpecies:
InvasionRatesandImpacts
LowerFoodWeb
ProductivityandHealth
FishSpeciesofInterest

AlgalBlooms

ChemicalIndicators

BiologicalIntegrityofFish
EatingandColonialNesting
Birds
AtmosphericDepositionof
ChemicalsofMutual
Concern
ChemicalsofMutual
ConcerninWater
Contaminantsin
Groundwater

Persistent,
Bioaccumulating,andToxic
SubstancesinBiota
PhosphorusLoadsandIn
LakeConcentrations

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

Assessesthemagnitudeanddirectionoftrendsofchemicalsof
mutualconcern(CMCs)insurfacewatersoftheGreatLakes
Assessesthequantityofgroundwater;groundwaterandsurface
waterinteractions;changesingroundwaterqualityas
developmentexpands;and,ecosystemhealthinrelationto
quantityandqualityofwater
Describesthespatialandtemporaltrendsofbioavailable
contaminantsthroughouttheGreatLakes,andinfersimpactof
contaminantsonthehealthoffishandbirdpopulations
Tracksthemagnitudeandtrendsintotalphosphorous(TP)and
dissolvedreactivephosphorus(DRP)loadsdeliveredtotheGreat
Lakesfrommultiplesources,andtracksthefateofdeliveredTP
andDRParereflectedinmeasurementsofinlakeconcentrations
andtrendsinconcentrationfromnearshoreandoffshoreareasin
theGreatLakes

2.3
STATEOFTHEGREATLAKES(SOGL)INDICATORS&ITSRELEVANCE
Since1994,theU.S.EnvironmentalProtectionAgency(EPA)andEnvironmentCanadahavehosteda
conference,StateoftheLakesEcosystemConference(SOLEC),everytwoyearsinresponsetothe
binationalGLWQA.Theconferencesareintendedtoprovideaforumforexchanginginformationonthe
ecologicalconditionoftheGreatLakesanditswatershed.AmajorpurposeofSOLECwastoreacha
largeaudienceofpeopleingovernment(atalllevels),corporate,andnotforprofitsectorswhomake
decisionsthatimpactthelakes.ThestatedobjectivesofSOLECare(SOLEC2015):
1. AssessthestateoftheGreatLakesecosystembasedonacceptedindicators
2. StrengthendecisionmakingandenvironmentalmanagementconcerningtheGreatLakes
3. InformlocaldecisionmakersofGreatLakesenvironmentalissues
4. ProvideaforumforcommunicationandnetworkingamongGreatLakesstakeholders

Until2008,theConferenceswereheldinevennumberedyears,andwerethefocalpointofengaginga
varietyoforganizationsandgatheringthebestavailablesciencetostudytheGreatLakes.Intheyear
followingeachconference,thegovernmentspreparedareport,calledStateoftheGreatLakes(SOGL),
basedinlargepartuponthesciencepresentedandthestakeholdersattheconference.Thisreportwas
widelydistributedtoinformGreatLakesdecisionmakersofcurrenttrendsintheecosystems.

The2012GLWQAmodifiedthereportingcycletoeverythreeyears.Intheefforttoapplyscientifically
soundindicatorsconsistentlyovertime,theU.S.andCanadiangovernmentsacceptedthoseIJC
recommendedindicatorswithavailabledatabut,correctly,notedthatsomeIJCIndicatorsdidnothave
datatocreateareport(16thBiennialReport2013).Forthe2016governmentsSOGLreport,43sub
indicatorswereputforwardtoassessprogresstowardachievingtheninegeneralobjectivesofthe
GLWQA(Table21).TheSOGLsubindicatorsare:
TreatedDrinkingWater
CoastalWetlands:Extentand
Composition
BeachAdvisories
HardenedShorelines
ContaminantsinEdibleFish

Phytoplankton(openwater)
ToxicChemicalsinGreatLakesWhole
Fish(LakeTrout/Walleye)
Zooplankton(openwater)
Benthos(openwater)
ToxicChemicalsinGreatLakesHerring
GullEggs
Diporeia(openwater)
ToxicChemicalConcentrations(open
Preyfish(openwater)
water)
LakeTrout
ToxicChemicalsinSediment
Walleye
AtmosphericDepositionofToxic
LakeSturgeon
Chemicals
NutrientsinLakes(openwater)
WaterQualityinTributaries
HarmfulAlgalBlooms
FishEatingandColonialNestingWater
Cladophora
Birds
AquaticInvasiveSpecies
CoastalWetlandInvertebrates
SeaLamprey
CoastalWetlandFish
DreissenidMussels
CoastalWetlandPlants
TerrestrialInvasiveSpecies
CoastalWetlandAmphibians
WaterLevels
CoastalWetlandBirds
SurfaceWaterTemperature
IceCover
IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

PrecipitationEvents
BaseflowDuetoGroundwater
WatershedStressors
ForestCover

LandCover
TributaryFlashiness
HabitatConnectivity
HumanPopulation

ThenumberofSOGLindicatorsandthedetaileddocumentationofeachonemeansthattheSOGL
documentsarelengthy.

2.4
DATAAVAILABILITYFORINDICATORS
ForboththeSOGLandtheIJCindicators,whetherornotsufficientandnecessarydataexiststoevaluate
eachindicatorisakeyaspectofunderstandingifanindicatorcanbeconsideredfunctionallyviable.This
functionalviabilityhastwocomponents,spatialandtemporalavailabilityofthedata.

2.4.1 SpatialAvailabilityoftheData
DatathatiscompleteshouldbeavailablethroughouttheGreatLakesregionandnotbelimitedto
onlyoneortwoofthelakes.AsthepurposeoftheindicatorsistotrackthehealthoftheGreatLakesin
itsentirety,datathatispartiallyavailabledoesnotservethepurpose.Indicatorswithpartialdataneed
tobecarefullyassessedforthelengthoftimeandamountofeffortnecessarytoobtaintheremaining
data.

2.4.2 TemporalAvailabilityoftheData
Datathatiscompleteshouldalsohaveabaseline.Whetherthatbaselineisahistoricaldatasetora
referencegoal,itisayardsticktomeasureagainstandisnecessarytomonitorthelakes.IntheGreat
Lakes,datasetssuchasthoseforthehealthandpopulationsoffishoranimalspecies,havebeen
collectedforseveraldecades.Ontheotherhand,thereareindicators,likelandcover,whichdonot
havecontinuousreferencedatasetsthroughouttheGreatLakes.Fortheseindicators,thereference
conditionforthedatamustbereconstructed,whichcanbeverydifficultandcostlyintimeand
resources.Thus,similarforspatialavailability,indicatorswithpartialtemporaldataneedtobecarefully
assessedfortheamountofeffortnecessarytoobtaintheremainingdata.

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

3.0 STATUS OF IJC INDICATORS & THEIR


METRICS

Recognizingtheneedforcontinuousimprovementtomeettheneedsoffutureassessments,additional
reviewsofIJCindicators/metricsthatcurrentlyhavepartialornodataisneeded.Becausedata
collectionisexpensiveandtimeconsuming,itiscriticaltoevaluatethenecessityoftheadditional
indicators.

Tocarryoutthiswork,IJCprovidedtheRothetal.(2015)reporttotheprojectteam.Asummaryofthe
reportisprovidedbelow.

3.1
IJCINDICATORSWITHFULLDATA
Basedontheprojectteamsanalyses,nineoutof21IJCindicatorshaddatathatcouldbeprocuredfor
carefulanalysesoftheGreatLakes.Theseindicatorsdependonavarietyofdatasets,fromlongterm
chemicalsamplingeffortstocontinuoussamplingofcoastalwetlandspecies,and,accordingly,thedata
needsarevarying,butallsharetwoimportantqualities:
ThedatasetdrawsfromsamplesitesdistributedthroughouttheGreatLakesatanappropriate
spatialscalewithwidespread,pastandpresentcomprehensivesamplingefforts.
Thedatasetincludesareferenceorbaselineagainstwhichcontinuingmonitoringeffortscanbe
compared.

TheseindicatorsarepresentedinTable31.Forbrevity,nofurtherexplanationsareprovided,andthe
readerisreferredtoRothetal.(2015)foradditionalinformation.

Table31:IJCindicatorswithfulldata

IJCINDICATORS
PBTinBiota
ChemicalsofMutualConcerninWater
AirDepositionofChemicalsofMutualConcern

CoastalWetland

LowerFoodWeb

RateofInvasion
AquaticInvasiveSpecies

StatusandImpacts

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

IJCMETRICS
PBTchemicalsinGreatLakeswholefish
PBTchemicalsinGreatLakes,herringgulleggs,andinbaldeagles
BasedonAnnex3recommendation
BasedonSOLECindicatorAtmosphericDepositionofToxicChemicals
Invertebrates
Fish
Plants
Amphibians
Birds
Areaandextent
Phytoplanktonbiovolume
Zooplanktonbiomass
Benthosabundance
Mysisbiomass
Prefishbiomassanddiversityindex
Plottingcumulativenumbersofinvasionsversustime
Plankton
Asiancarps

10

IJCINDICATORS

IJCMETRICS

WaterLevel

WaterTemperature

LandConversionRate
LandUses
LandFragmentation

Roundgoby
Ruffe
Sealamprey
Dreissenidmussels
Longtermwaterlevelvariability
Timingofseasonalwaterlevelmaximumandminimum
Magnitudeofseasonalriseanddecline
Laketolakewaterleveldifference
Annualsummer(JulySeptember)surfaceaveragetemperaturefor
eachlake
Falllakewaterturnoverdate
Maximumandaverageiceconcentrations
Percentnaturallandtypeunchanged
Percentchangeinnaturallandtypes
Percentchangetononurbanorindustrialland
Percentchangetourbanorindustrialland
Averagenumberofpatchesforeachnaturallandcoverclass
Averagepatchsizeforeachnaturallandcoverclass

3.2
INDICATORSWITHINCOMPLETEDATA
Basedontheprojectteamsanalyses,12outof21IJCindicatorshadpartialornodata.Theseindicators
arepresentedinTable32.

Table32:IJCindicatorswithpartialornodata

IJCINDICATORS

IJCMETRICS

BiologicalHazardsofSourceWater

ChemicalIntegrityofSourceWater
IllnessRiskatGLBeaches
SourceofRisksatGLBeaches

ContaminantLevelsinGLEdibleFishSpecies

AbundanceandDistributionof
FishEatingandColonial
NestingBirds

Population
Status
Health
Status

E.coli
Nitrate
Turbidity
Atrazine
Estrogenicity
Cyanotoxins
95th%#ofE.coli/colonyformingunitsofE.coliper100ml
PercentbeacheswithBeachSanitarySurveyorEnvironmentalHealth&
SafetySurveyinagivenyear
ConcentrationsofPCBs,dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane(DDT),mercury,
chlordanes,toxaphane,andmirexinedibleportionsoflaketrout
ConcentrationsofPCBs,DDT,mercury,chlordanes,toxaphane,andmirex
inedibleportionsofwalleye
ConcentrationsofPCBs,DDT,mercury,chlordanes,toxaphane,andmirex
inedibleportionsofyellowperch
ConcentrationsofPCBs,DDT,mercury,chlordanes,toxaphane,andmirex
inedibleportionsofwhitefish
ConcentrationsofPCBs,DDT,mercury,chlordanes,toxaphane,andmirex
inedibleportionsofsmallmouthbass
Nestcountsofbaldeagles,doublecrestedcormorants,herringgulls,and
othercolonialwaterbirds
Numberofadultandnumberofyoungbirds
Baldeagleproductivityandhatchratesfordoublecrestedcormorants,
herringgulls,andothers
Deformitiesofbaldeagles,doublecrestedcormorants,andherringgulls

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

11

IJCINDICATORS
ShorelineAlteration

FishSpeciesofInterest

PhosphorusLoadingandInlake
Concentration
AlgalBlooms
ContaminantsinGroundwater
TributaryPhysicalIntegrity

IJCMETRICS
Physicalshorelineindicator
Biologicalshorelineindicator
SAICombinedphysicalandbiologicalindex
Recruitmentandabundanceoflaketroutandwhitefish
Recruitmentandabundanceofwalleye
Recruitmentandabundanceoflakesturgeon
Recruitmentandabundanceofnorthernpikeoryellowperchor
smallmouth/largemouthbass
InLakeTotalPhosphorus(TP)andDissolvedReactivePhosphorus(DRP)
concentrations
TPandDRPloadingfromtributaries
HarmfulAlgalBlooms
NuisanceAlgalBlooms
ExcessiveAlgalAbundance
Measuregreaterthantenchemicalsfromagandurbanwatersheds
HydrologicAlteration(RBFlashinessIndex)
Sedimentturbiditymeasure
TributaryconnectivitytoGreatLakes

Ashortsummaryofeachindicatorfollows,alongwithabriefdescriptionoftheavailabledataset,
metrics,calculationmethodologies,spatial,andtemporalresolutions.

3.2.1 BiologicalHazardsIndexforSourceWater
Thepurposeofthisindicatoristo(Rothetal.2015):
Examinetrendsintheendemic,seasonal,andepisodicpresenceofsewageandagricultural
effluentandothercontaminatedrunoffintheGreatLakes,
Examineseasonalandgeographicdistributionofselectedhumanpathogens,and
Infertheeffectivenessofmanagementactionstakentoreducetheimpactofpathogensand
nitratesinsourcewaters.

Table33:Summaryofdatagapsforindicatorbiologicalhazardsindexforsourcewater

METRICS
Trendanalysesonextremesand
exceedancesofmeasurementsbeyond
provisionalbaselinesforE.coli
Trendanalysesonextremesand
exceedancesofmeasurementsbeyond
provisionalbaselinesforNitrate
Trendanalysesonextremesand
exceedancesofmeasurementsbeyond
provisionalbaselinesforturbidity

SPATIAL
RESOLUTION
Datawouldbe
associatedwithsites
neardrinkingwater
intakesaroundthelake.
Thisdatadoesnot
currentlyexist.

TEMPORAL
EXTENT
Ifavailable,data
wouldbe
collecteddaily.
Datadoesnot
currentlyexist.

RECOMMENDATIONS
Aftersurveyswereconducted,it
wasdeterminedthatthedata
doesnotcurrentlyexistandhigh
barriersexisttodevelopthedata
(federallawmayprecludepublic
knowledgeofsourcewater
locationsandintakes).

3.2.2 ChemicalIntegrityofSourceWater
Thepurposeofthisindicatoristo(Rothetal.2015):
Examinetrendsinseasonalandgeographicvariabilityortargetedchemicalcompoundsin
watersusedassourcesforregionaldrinkingwatersupply,
IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

12

Assessthelevelofhazardandinfertheimpactofchemicalcontaminantsinthedrinkingwater
sourcesonthehealthofthehumanpopulationintheGreatLakesthatareservedbywaterfrom
theLakes,
Infertheeffectivenessofmanagementactionstakentoreducetheoveralllevelsofpesticides,
nutrients,andendocrinedisruptingchemicalsintheGreatLakesourcewaterfordrinking,and
Examineindicationsforpossibleimprovementstopotableandwastewatertreatment.

Table34:Summaryofdatagapsforindicatorchemicalintegrityofsourcewater

SPATIAL
RESOLUTION

METRICS
Trendanalysesonextremesandexceedances
ofmeasurementsbeyondprovisionalbaselines
foratrazine
Trendanalysesonextremesandexceedances
ofmeasurementsbeyondprovisionalbaselines
forendocrinedisruptingcompounds
Trendanalysesonextremesandexceedances
ofmeasurementsbeyondprovisionalbaselines
forcyanotoxins

Datawouldbe
associatedwith
specificsites
aroundthelake,
butitdoesntexist
currently.

TEMPORAL
RESOLUTION

RECOMMENDATIONS

Ifavailable,data
wouldbe
collecteddaily.
Datadoesnt
currentlyexist.

Aftersurveyswereconducted
itwasdeterminedthatthe
datadoesnotcurrentlyexist
andhighbarriersexistto
developingthedata(federal
lawmayprecludepublic
knowledgeofsourcewater
locationsandintakes.).

3.2.3 IllnessRiskatGreatLakesBeaches
Thepurposeofthisindicatoristo(Rothetal.2015):
Inferpotentialharmtohumanhealthatroutinelymonitoredbeachesthroughuseoffecal
indicatororganismsasasurrogateforpathogens,
DescribetemporalandspatialtrendsinrecreationalwaterqualityatmonitoredGreatLakes
beaches,and
Allowcomparisonsofrecreationalwaterqualityacrossjurisdictionsusingacommon
methodology.

Table35:SummaryofdatagapsforindicatorillnessriskatGreatLakesbeaches

METRICS

SPATIALRESOLUTION

95thpercentileof

Dataissampledona
beachtobeachbasison
bothsidesofthelakes.
Certainareas,especially
thoseheavilyusedby
people,havehigher
samplingclustersthan
areaswithlesstraffic.

numbersofE.coli
measuredasthemost
probablenumber
(MPN)/colonyforming
units(CFU)ofE.coli
per100mlofwaterat
GreatLakesbeaches
todeterminechange
overtime

TEMPORAL
RESOLUTION
Somebeacheshave
verylongterm
samplingrecords(10
years<)butothershave
onlybeensampledfora
fewyears;itishighly
sitedependent.

RECOMMENDATIONS
Thedatadoesexistformanyareasonboth
sidesofthelake,buthasntbeenbrought
togetherinasingleformat.Theestimated
efforttocompletelyintegratedatasets
acrossnationalboundariesandformatsis
considerable.OntheCanadianside,the
dataismaintainedbymultiple,separate
agencies,requiringalotofefforttobring
togetherunderonedatabase.TheU.S.
maintainsadatabaseunderBEACONbut
thereisalsodatamaintainedbystate
agenciesnotincludedinthissystem.

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

13

Finally,howtousethisdatatocalculatethemetricisunclearbecausewhiletheE.colidataexists,itslink
totheriskofillnessisnotexplicit.Clarifyingthecalculationmethodisessentialtousingthisindicator
effectively.

3.2.4 SourceofRisksatGreatLakesBeaches
Thepurposeofthisindicatoristo(Rothetal.2015):
CharacterizesourcesofriskatGreatLakesbeaches,
Identifythemainpollutionsources,
MeasurethepercentageofbeachesthatemployBeachSanitarySurveys(USA),and
EnvironmentalHealthandSafetySurveys(Canada)inagivenyear.

Table36:SummaryofdatagapsforindicatorsourceofrisksatGreatLakesbeaches

METRICS
Mainpollutionsources
identifiedatbeachesthat
employBeachSanitary
SurveyorEnvironmental
HealthandSafetySurvey
Percentageofbeachesthat
employBeachSanitary
SurveyorEnvironmental
HealthandSafetySurveyin
agivenyear

SPATIALRESOLUTION

TEMPORALRESOLUTION

RECOMMENDATIONS

Beachtobeachsanitary
surveysareconductedtoa
varyingdegreeof
completenessthroughout
thebasin(e.g.,somelakes
mayhaveaverysmall
percentageofbeaches
surveyed).

Dataonlyshowswhetheror
notasurveyhasbeen
conducted,notthedateof
thefirstsurveyorthe
surveysfrequency.

Majorgapsexistwithno
temporalinformation
attachedtosurveys,very
fewofthebeacheshave
latitudesorlongitudes
recorded,andacomplete
lackofsourceidentification
whenconductingsurveys.

3.2.5 ContaminantLevelsinGreatLakesEdibleFishSpecies
Thispurposeofthisindicatoristo(Rothetal.2015):
AnalyzetemporaltrendsincontaminantsinGreatLakeFishSpecies,and
Assistinfurtherinvestigationofexposurepathwaysthroughfishconsumption.

Table37:SummaryofdatagapsforindicatorcontaminantsinGreatLakesediblefishspecies

METRIC

SPATIALRESOLUTION

None
identifiedto
date

Samplingregimesare
variable.Someareashave
randomsamplinglocations
withlittleconsistencyyear
toyearwhileotherareas
havesetlocationsrevisited
throughouttheyear.
Anothervariableissample
time,whichcanrange
anywherefromannuallyto
biannually.

TEMPORAL
RESOLUTION

Samplinggoesbacktoas
lateas1970insome
datasetswithvariationon
whetherthesampling
eventisannualorbiannual,
andwhetherthesample
siterotatesornot.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Multipleagenciesandjurisdictionscollect
thisdatausingdifferentsamplingmethods,
makingcomparisonacrossyearsandacross
stateschallengingandtimeconsuming.
Statesarealsonotrequiredtoreportthis
datatotheEPAaffectingthetotaloverall
coveragethatexistswithintheregion.
Finally,howtocalculatethismetricwas
nevermadeexplicit,whichhasprevented
fullassessmentoftheindicator.

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

14

3.2.6 Abundance&DistributionofFishEating&ColonialNestingBirds
Thepurposeofthisindicatoristo(Rothetal.2015):
Measurethebiologicalintegrityoffisheatingandcolonialbirds,
Measureindicatorsofphysicalandchemicalstress,and
Allowdirectcomparisonofavianhealthacrossspatialandtemporalscales.

Table38:Summaryofdatagapsforindicatorabundanceanddistributionoffisheatingand
colonialnestingbirds

METRICS

SPATIALRESOLUTION

Nestcountsofbaldeagles,double
crestedcormorants,herringgulls,
othercolonialwaterbirds
Numberofadultandnumberof
youngindividuals
Baldeagleproductivityandhatch
ratesfordoublecrestedcormorants,
herringgulls,andothers
Deformitiesofbaldeagle,double
crestedcormorants,herringgulls,
andothers

Thespatialscaleis
variablewithmanysites
beingsampledallowing
foranalysisonanyscale,
fromprovincesandstates
downtowatersheds.This
istrueforbaldeagles,
herringgulls,aswellas
colonialnestingbirds.

TEMPORAL
RESOLUTION

RECOMMENDATIONS

Bothspecieshavelong
termsampleregimesthat
havebeenveryeffective.

Definitionofindicator
calculationmethodis
necessarybeforegaps
canbeknown.
Additionally,adefinition
ofthesamplingregimeis
necessary.

3.2.7 CoastalhabitatShorelineAlterationIndex(SAI)
Thepurposeofthisindicatoristomeasurethelengthofhumanmodifiedshorelinethatisphysicallyand
biologicallyunfavorabletoGreatLakesecosystems(Rothetal.2015).

Table39:Summaryofdatagapsforindicatorcoastalhabitatshorelinealterationindex(SAI)

SPATIAL
RESOLUTION

METRICS

TEMPORAL
RESOLUTION

RECOMMENDATION

Surveyscanbe
quitecostlyso
tremendous
amountsoftime
canpassbetween
major,formal
surveysofshoreline
characteristics.Itis
difficulttopinpoint
initialsurveydates
butmanyofthe
firstformalsurveys
weredoneinmid
1970to80s.

Detailedshorelinedataon
biologicalcharacteristicsof
thelakeshoredoesnotexist
widelywithinthelakes.Some
statesandprovinceshave
madeimportantstrides
towardsmappingbiological
characteristics,howeverthis
progresshasnotbeen
uniformandthebiological
componentdoesnothave
enoughdataavailabletobe
calculated.Howtocalculate
thebiologicalindicatorhas
alsobeenleftambiguous,
preventingfullassessmentof
thismetric.

SAI=1(PRatioxBRatio)
Biologicalcomponent:theratioofthelineal
lengthofbiologicallyincompatiblestructures
(shoreperpendicularstructures,verticalsheet
pile,concretewalls,andotherhumanmade
structuresthatcannotserveasbiological
habitat)relativetototallineallengthof
humanmodifiedshoreline(BRatio).
Physicalcomponent:Ratioofthelineallengthof
armoredshorelinerelativetototallineallength
oftheshoreline(i.e.theratiox100=percentof
armoredshoreline).Morespecifically,theP
Ratioequalshumanmodifiedshoreline/total
shoreline.ThePRatioisalsoassignedscoresof
"poor"(0.7to1.0),"fair"(0.4to0.7),"good"
(0.15to0.4),and"excellent"(<0.15).

Surveydatacan
betakenfrom
multiple
different
sources(AVHRR,
orthographic
photos,Landsat,
etc.)andmany
oftheseare
quitefinescale
allowing
detailedanalysis
oftheshoreline
characteristics.

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

15

3.2.8 FishSpeciesofInterest
Thepurposeofthisindicatoristomeasurethestatusandtrendsinpopulationabundanceand
recruitmentforlaketrout,lakewhitefish,walleye,lakesturgeon,andasuiteofnearshorepredators
(northernpike,smallmouthbass,largemouthbass,andyellowperch)(Rothetal.2015).

Table310:Summaryofdatagapsforindicatorfishspeciesofinterest

METRICS

SPATIALRESOLUTION

Recruitmentandabundanceoflake
troutandwhitefish

Trawlsandsurveys
generallyareassociated
withmanagementunits
orbasins,butare
sometimespresentedat
thelakelevel.Other
surveys,suchascreel
surveys,haveavery
specificlocationandare
georeferenced.

Recruitmentandabundanceof
walleye
Recruitmentandabundanceoflake
sturgeon
Recruitmentandabundanceof
northernpikeoryellowperchor
smallmouth/largemouthbass

TEMPORAL
RESOLUTION

RECOMMENDATIONS

Datahasbeencollected
inmanydifferentways
throughoutthebasin
withsomeareas
conductingyearly
collectionsandother
areasonlydoingso
sporadically.

Dataforlaketrout,lake
whitefish,andwalleyeis
generallyeasytoobtainand
readilyavailablethroughout
thebasin.Dataforsturgeon
andotherspeciesislacking
throughoutthebasin.These
specieswillneedtobe
assembledfromsurveydata
thatisfisheryindependent.

3.2.9 PhosphorusLoads&InLakeConcentrations
Thepurposeofthisindicatoristo(Rothetal.2015):

Trackthemagnitudeandtrendsintotalphosphorus(TP)anddissolvedreactivephosphorus
(DRP)loadsdeliveredtotheGreatLakes,

AssessthefateofdeliveredTPandDRPinlake,and

Monitorconcentrationsandtrendsinconcentrationfromnearshoreandoffshoreareasinthe
GreatLakes.

Table311:Summaryofdatagapsforindicatorphosphorousloadsandinlakeconcentrations

METRICS
Totalphosphorus(TP)load
formajortributariesofeach
lakebasinusingthemethods
inDolanandChapra(2012).
Dissolvedreactive
phosphorus(DRP)loadfor
majortributariesofeachlake
basinusingthemethodsin
DolanandChapra(2012).
AverageinlakeTP
concentrationasmeasured
byspringandsummer
samplingprograms
AverageinlakeDRP
concentrationasmeasured
byspringandsummer
samplingprograms

SPATIAL
RESOLUTION

TEMPORALRESOLUTION

RECOMMENDATIONS

DolanandChapra
(2012)haveloads
downtothe
tributarylevel
withsomeareas
generalizedinto
complexesor
subbasins.The
lakewide
informationisa
resultof
averagingstation
samples,though
individualstation
leveldataisalso
available.

DolanandChapra(2012)used
TPloadsfrom1994to2008,
but,byandlarge,thedataprior
to1994istoogeneralizedtobe
usefulforcalculationofthefirst
metric.DRPhasbeencollected,
atsomesites,forLakeMichigan
from19942000andfrom2010
to2014,andHeidelberg
Universityhasestimated
tributaryloadsintheWester
LakesErieBasinasfarbackas
1975buttheperiodofrecord
varieswidely.Dependingonthe
monitoringprogramforinlake
TP,thesamplingintheperiodof
recordspansfrom1970to
present.

Whilethereisgoodcoverage
withinthelakes,therearetwokey
issueswiththeTPloadingdatain
tributaries.First,isthat
improvementshavebeenmadeto
loadestimationtechniquesand
reassessingthedatawould
produceamoreaccuratepicture
ofTPintheGreatLakes.That
reassessmentneedstobedone.
Secondly,thelakesarenot
sampleduniformly.Certainareas
havefinescaleestimates,while
otherareashavelargescale,
averagedestimates.This
discrepancyprevents
straightforwardcomparisons
amongsystems.

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

16

3.2.10 AlgalBlooms
Thepurposeofthisindicatoristotrackspatialandtemporaltrendsintheoccurrenceofharmfuland
nuisancealgalbloomsintheGreatLakes(Rothetal.2015).

Table312:Summaryofdatagapsforindicatoralgalblooms

METRICS

SPATIAL
RESOLUTION

Harmfulalgalbloom(HAB):
Occurrence/frequencyofMicrocystinLR
contrations>10ug/L(pelagic)or>300ug/gram
(benthic)oralgalcommunitydominatedbyasuite
ofpotentiallytoxiccyanobacterialspecies
Nuisancealgalbloom(NAB):
Occurrence/frequencyofchlorophylla>30ug/L
andlevelsofcommonalgalodorcompoundsare
greaterthanhumandetectionthresholdsor
significantnumberofbeachpostingorclosures
duetoexcessivealgalmaterial
Excessivealgalbloom(EAB):
Occurrence/frequencyofhighlevelsofpercent
coverageofnearshorebynuisancealgae(>50
percentcoverageor50gramsdwt/m2)or
extensivepelagicbloomasmeasuredbytiming,
intensity,duration,andarealextent.

Thereare40sites
sampledinwestern
LakeErieforHABs,
howevernosampling
occursfornuisance
orexcessiveblooms
becausethereareno
establishedsampling
methods.Noother
lakeissampled
routinelyforalgae,
however,samplingin
GreenBayand
SaginawBayare
ongoing.

TEMPORAL
RESOLUTION

Samplingin
westernLake
Erieoccurs
everyother
weekor
monthlyand
thereare
810yearsof
dataavailable.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Dataisonlyavailablefor
veryspecificlocations
aroundtheGreatLakes
andmonitoringdoesnt
occurinareaswhere
bloomshavenotbeena
probleminthepast.
Additionally,integration
ofdatafrommultiple
sourcesisdifficultand
theresnoeasysolutionto
theproblem.

3.2.11 ContaminantsinGroundwater
Thepurposeofthisindicatoristo(Rothetal.2015):

Trackthequantityofgroundwater,

Assessgroundwaterandsurfacewaterinteractions,

Assesschangesingroundwaterqualityasdevelopmentexpands,and

Documentecosystemhealthinrelationtoquantityandqualityofwater.

Table313:Summaryofdatagapsforindicatorcontaminantsingroundwater

METRICS
Thereiscurrentlynodefined
metricforthisindicator,
however,metricsbasedon
nitrateandchloridefrom
groundwaterarebeing
developed.

SPATIAL
RESOLUTION

TEMPORAL
RESOLUTION

RECOMMENDATIONS

Dataistakenfrom
individualwellswithina
watershedandmustbe
generalizedtoother
spatialscales.

Manydifferentsampling
regimesareusedacross
thewatershedand,
consideringthedifferent
durationsandfrequencies,
moreguidancemustbe
appliedinordertofully
calculatethismetric.

Therecurrentlyisnoguidance
onhowexactlytocalculatethis
metric,whichmakes
identifyinggapsdifficult.The
datalikelyexiststocalculate
thismetricmanydifferent
waysonceamethodologyis
decidedupon.

3.2.12 TributaryPhysicalIntegrity
Thepurposeofthisindicatoristo(Rothetal.2015):
MeasurephysicalintegrityofGreatLakeswatersheds,

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

17

Measureconnectivitytoreceivingwaters,and
Measureturbidityinrelationtoaturbiditythreshold.

Table314:Summaryofdatagapsforindicatortributaryphysicalintegrity

METRICS
SPATIALRESOLUTION:Thecalculations
arebasedonsinglegaugedlocationsand
riverswithinthelakesratherthanhaving
anyinlakecalculation.Extrapolatingout
fromtheselocationstobasinwide
trendscanbedifficultsincenotalllakes
havethesamenumberofgauged
tributariesandthereisnosystemfor
placingthegaugesinauniformway.

HydrologicAlteration(RBFlashinessIndex):Thismeasuredescribesthe
hydrologicresponseofarivertochangesinprecipitation/runoffevents.TheRB
IndexiscalculatedusingUSGSmeandailyflowsonanannualbasisbydividing
TEMPORALRESOLUTION:Datahasbeen thesumoftheabsolutevaluesofdaytodaychangesinmeandailyflowbythe
totaldischargeoverthattimeinterval(Bakeretal.2004).
collectedonamonthlybasisfrom1960
through2013.

Theflowsreportedaremeandaily,not
monthly.
RECOMMENDATION:Thereareno
knowngapsforflashinessand
connectivity,howeverthatdoesntmean
therearentissuesrelatedtotemporal
andsamplingcomponents.Someareas
haveveryfewgaugesandothergauges
haveonlybeenactiveforaveryshort
periodoftime,compromisingtheoverall
usefulnessofthisdata.

RECOMMENDATION:Thesediment
turbidityindexhasdatagapsthat
revolvearoundonly23stationshaving
thefulldataneededtocalculatethe
turbidityindex.

Tributaryconnectivitytoreceivingwaters:Tributaryconnectivityforan
individualwatershed=(Lb/Lm)100whereLbisthedistancebetweenthe
GreatLakesandthefirstbarrieronthemainstemchannelandLmisthetotal
lengthofthemainstemchannel.
Tributaryconnectivitytoreceivingwaters:TributaryConnectivityformultiple
watershedsiscalculatedbysummingthetotallengthofmainstemchannels
withoutbarriersandthendividingbythetotalsumofmainstemchannel
lengths.
Sedimentturbiditymeasure:TurbidityExceedanceTimeistheproportionof
timethattheturbiditythreshold(T)isexceededduringthetimeseries(tn>T)
dividedbythetotaltimewithintheseries(seeequationincelltotheright).For
example,aturbidityexceedancevalueof0.50indicatesthattheturbidity
thresholdwasexceeded50percentofthetimeonanannualbasis(N=365).In
otherwords,daysintheyearthatthemeandailyturbidityvalueexceededthe
thresholddividedbydaysofdatainthatyear.
Sedimentturbiditymeasure:TurbidityConcentrationRatioisthemagnitudeof
exceedanceabovetheturbiditythresholdexpressedastheratioofthemean
turbidityvaluethatexceedstheturbiditythreshold(cn>T)dividedbythe
turbiditythresholdvalue.Forexample,aturbidityconcentrationratioof3.6
indicatesthatthemagnitudeofexceedanceis3.6timesgreaterthanthe
turbiditythreshold.Inotherwords,ofthedaysthatthethresholdwas
exceeded,findtheaverageturbidityvalueacrossthoseexceedancedaysand
divideitbythethresholdvalue.

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

18

3.3
SUMMARY
TheIJCspreparedindicatorsvaryintheirreadinesstouseduetotheamountofdatareadilyavailable.
Manycanbeeasilyintegratedbecausetheappropriatedataexists,whileothersrequiresignificant
effortstobringthemtoalevelatwhichtheycanbeincludedintheindicatorsuite.Onlynineofthe21
indicatorshadfulldata.

Accordingly,aprioritizationoftheremainingindicatorswasneededtoconsiderthenecessityofthose
indicators.ThatprioritizationprocessisdescribedinSections4and5.

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

19

4.0 WORKSHOP INDICATOR EVALUATION

4.1
IJCINDICATORSWORKSHOP:GOALS&ATTENDEES
BasedupondiscussionswithandfeedbackfromtheIJCsindicatorsworkgroup,itwasnecessarytohost
anIJCindicatorreviewworkshopthathadthefollowinggoals:
ReviewtheIJCindicatorsandtheirmetricssofarasdataavailability,andassessifanygapsexisted
withtheGLWQAobjectives
ReviewtheSOGLsubindicatorsandassessifanygapsexistedwiththeGLWQAobjectives
ReviewIJCindicatorswithpartialornodata,andprioritizethemforfillinggaps

InNovemberof2015,aninvitationwassenttonearly35expertsintheregiontoparticipateinthe
indicatorreviewandprioritizationprocess.Ahighpercentageofthoseinvitedwereabletoattendthe
workshopheldonDecember17and18,2015,inAnnArbor,Michigan.AslistedinTable41,nearly30
attendeesparticipatedintheworkshop,withthemajorityattendinginperson.

Table41:ListofIJCIndicatorsWorkshopAttendees

BYWEBINAR
DEC17,2015 DEC18,2015

IndicatorExperts
BillTaylor,UniversityofWaterloo
CarolMiller,WayneStateUniversity
CatherineRiseng,UniversityofMichigan
ChrisWinslow,OhioSeaUniversity
DaleK.Phenicie,CouncilforGreatLakesIndustries
DebbieLee,NOAA
DonaldUzarski,CentralMichiganUniversitry
EdRuthford,NOAA
GavinChristie,FisheriesandOceansCanada
GregBoyer,SUNY
HowardShapiro,TorontoPublicHealth
IanDCampbell,AgricultureandAgriFoodCanada
JanCiborowski,UniversityofWindsor
JeffRidal,St.LawrenceRiverInstitute
JimLudwig,retiredwaterbirdstoxicologist
JosephV.DePinto,Limnotech
LucindaJohnson,UniversityofMinnesota
MichaelMurray,NationalWildlifeFederation
NormGrannemann,U.S.G.S.
PhillipChu,NOAAGreatLakesEnvironmental
ResearchLaboratory
RogerKnight,GreatLakesFisheriesCommission
SteveCole,GreatLakesCommission
TomSpeth,U.S.EnvironmentalProtectionAgency
VicServeiss,IJC
VirginiaRoberts,U.S.CenterforDiseaseControl
Facilitators
AnkitaMandelia,IJC
JamesRidgway,P.E.,ECT

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

x
x

x
x
x

x
x
x

INPERSON
DEC17,2015 DEC18,2015

x
x

x
x
x

x
x
x
x
x

x
x

x
x

x
x
x

x
x
x
x
x

x
x

x
x

20

BYWEBINAR
DEC17,2015 DEC18,2015

Facilitators
LiWang,Ph.D.,IJC
RobertPettit,ECT
SanjivSinha,Ph.D.,P.E.,ECT

Total

INPERSON
DEC17,2015 DEC18,2015
x
x
x
20

x
x
x
20

4.2
ADOPTEDPROCEDURE
Based upon discussions with and feedback from workshop attendees, the following questions were
agreeduponasprimaryvariablesforprioritization:

Howimportantis thisindicator,asfar asfillingagapbetweenSOGLindicatorandthe GLWQA


objective,tobeincludedintheGreatLakesmonitoringefforts?

Estimateoftherelativeeffort,i.e.levelofprofessionalresourcesnecessarytocreateappropriate
datasets,requiredtoresolveanyissueswiththatindicator

Estimateofthetimecommitment,suchasweeksormonthsoryears,requiredtoresolvetheissues
withthatindicator

Afterashortpresentationoneachindicator,theattendeeswererequestedtodiscusstheindicators
relevancetotheGLWQAobjectives.Eventually,foreachindicator,responsestotheabovethree
questionswererecordedfromtheparticipants,whichwereanalyzedandaresummarizedinSection5.

4.3
SUMMARY
Theprocessemployedbytheprojectteamhelpedsynthesizetheexpertopinionsintoeasilycomparable
responsessoeachindicatorcouldsimultaneouslyberankedbymultiplecriteria.Asummaryofthese
resultsispresentedinSection5.

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

21

5.0 WORKSHOP FINDINGS A REVIEW OF


GAPS & PRIORITIZED INDICATORS

5.1
WORKSHOPFINDINGS
WorkshopattendeesidentifiedgapsinaddressingGLWQAobjectivesbySOGLsubindicatorsthatcould
beimprovedbyusingthefollowingeightIJCindicatorsthathadpartialornodata:
BiologicalHazards/ChemicalIntegrityof
AlgalBlooms
SourceWater
FishSpeciesofInterest
IllnessRiskatGreatLakesBeaches
CoastalShorelineAlterationIndex
SourcesofRiskatGreatLakesBeaches
ContaminantsinGroundWater
PhosphorusLoadsandInlake
Concentrations

Alongwiththeabovelist,expertsalsoreviewedlowerfoodwebandaquaticinvasivespecies,
indicatorspreviouslyidentifiedwithfulldata,forprioritizationpurposes,becausetheirmeasureswere
different.TheSOGLindicatorsuitetracksinvasivespeciesasanaggregatemetricwithoutbreakingthe
informationoutbyspecies.IncontrasttheIJCindicatorsmakeexplicitwhatspeciesarebeingtracked
providinganopportunitytoexaminetrendsinspecificspeciesofinterestovertime.Similarly,theIJCs
lowerfoodwebindicatorexaminesmysisaswellasotherspeciesinwaysthataredistinctfromthe
SOGLsuite,andtheattendeesfeltthatitwasimportanttousethemorecomprehensiveIJCindicators.

Theseindicatorswerediscussedcarefully,andasurveyofthethreegoals(presentedinSection4.1)was
carriedout.TheseIJCindicatorswereprioritizedbytheattendees,andthatprioritizedlistispresented
inTable51.Inaddition,adescriptionofrelateddiscussionsamongtheattendeesisalsooutlinedin
Sections5.1.1through5.1.10inthepriorityorderofTable51.

Table51:PrioritizedlistofIJCindicators

AVERAGE
SCORE
INDICATOR

(1=NOT
IMPORTANT,5=
EXTREMELY
IMPORTANT)

PRIORITY
BASED
ONSCORE

AVERAGE
SCORE
(1=LOW
EFFORT,
3=HIGH
EFFORT)

RELATIVE
EFFORT
BASEDON
SCORE

AVERAGESCORE
(1=NOTIME
COMMITMENT,4=
HIGHTIME
COMMITMENT)

TIME
COMMITMENT
BASEDON
SCORE

AlgalBlooms

4.55

Essential

2.53

High

3.93

High

BiologicalHazards/Chemical
IntegrityofSourceWater

4.18

Essential

1.95

Middle

3.68

High

4.12

Essential

2.5

High

3.56

High

4.10

Essential

2.25

High

High

4.06

Essential

2.07

High

2.87

Middle

3.90

Important

2.72

High

2.61

Middle

3.90

Important

1.93

Middle

AISInvasionratesand
impacts
CoastalShorelineAlteration
Index
Lowerfoodweb
PhosphorusLoadsandInLake
Concentrations
FishSpeciesofInterest

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

High

22

AVERAGE
SCORE
(1=NOT
IMPORTANT,5=
EXTREMELY
IMPORTANT)

INDICATOR

AVERAGE
SCORE

PRIORITY
BASED
ONSCORE

RELATIVE
EFFORT
BASEDON
SCORE

(1=LOW
EFFORT,
3=HIGH
EFFORT)

AVERAGESCORE
(1=NOTIME
COMMITMENT,4=
HIGHTIME
COMMITMENT)

TIME
COMMITMENT
BASEDON
SCORE

IllnessRiskatGLBeaches

3.79

Important

2.35

High

2.6

Middle

ContaminantsinGround
Water

3.33

Important

2.47

High

3.68

High

SourcesofRiskatGLbeaches

2.06

Neutral

2.44

High

3.55

High

Figure51:Bubblechartsummarizingthefindingsoftheworkshop
(notethatthesizeofthecirclesisproportionaltothetimecommitmentscoresassignedbytheattendees)

PLoadsandinlake
concentrations

Sourcesofrisk

2.5

Harmfuland
nuisancealgae

Contaminantsin
groundwater
AIS
Illnessrisk

EffortNeeded(1=
LowEffort,3=High
Effort)

Coastalshoreline
Lowerfoodweb
2

Biological/chemical
concentrations

Fishspeciesof
interest

1.5
1

Priority(1=NotImportant,5=ExtremelyImportant)

5.1.1 AlgalBlooms
Theattendeesagreedthatmonitoringalgalbloomsandenhancingtheexistingalgalbloomdatasetswas
veryimportant.TheattendeesfeltthatthisIJCindicatoraddedsignificantvaluetothecurrentSOGL
indicatorsuitebytrackingseveraldifferenttypesofalgae,insteadoffocusingexclusivelyonmicrocystis.
However,thegroupalsofeltthatrewordingofthemetricswasnecessarytoshowcasethealgalspecies
beingmeasured,beforetheindicatorwasincluded.

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

23

5.1.2 BiologicalHazards/ChemicalIntegrityofSourceWater
Forthepurposesofdiscussion,theBiological/ChemicalintegrityofSourceWaterindicatorswere
combinedintoonetopic.Ultimately,theworkgroupfeltthatitwasvitaltoincludetheseIJCindicatorsin
theSOGLsuiteofindicatorsinordertoensurethatsourcewaterwasbeingassessed(i.e.,notjustthe
treatedwater).

5.1.3 AISInvasionRates&Impacts
TheIJCAISInvasionratesandimpactsindicatorissimilartotheSOGLindicatorintermsofthespecies
thatittracks,however,theIJCindicatorpresentsthisinformationdifferently.TheIJCindicatortracks
manyspeciesindividually,butalsoincludesanoverarchingrateofinvasionindicator.Thistrackingof
bothindividualspeciesandaggregateinvasionswasconsideredtobevitalbytheworkgroup,andsoit

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

24

wasrecommendedforinclusion.Additionalconversationsrevolvedaroundensuringcertainspeciesof
concern.

5.1.4 CoastalShorelineAlterationIndex
TheIJCCoastalShorelineAlterationIndexindicatorhadsomesimilaritiestothecurrentSOGL
assessments,butalsoincludedabiologicalmetricthattheSOGLindicatordidnot.Thismetricisnotfully
definedatthispoint,buttheworkgroupfeltthatcapturingthequalityofhabitatalongshorelineswas
anessentialexercisetocarryout.Further,theworkgroupfeltthatassessingnonshorelineandnon
wetlandhabitats(e.g.,interiorstreamhabitats)wereessentialtomakingthisbiologicalintegrity
indicatormoreuseful.

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

25

5.1.5 LowerFoodWeb
TheLowerFoodWebindicatorisprimarilyfocusedontrackingseveralimportantspeciesthat
contributetothebaseoftheGreatLakesfoodchain.WhilebroadlysimilartotheSOGLindicator,
attendeesrecommendedincludingMysisbiomassandnearshorebenthicmacroinvertebrates.The
workgroupultimatelychosetorecommendthisindicatorforinclusion.

5.1.6 Phosphorusloads&InlakeConcentrations
Theattendeesfeltthatitwasimportanttocapturenearshorenutrientconcentrationsaswellasinlake
concentrationstomoreaccuratelyreflectphosphorusdynamicswithintheGreatLakessystem.The
groupalsosuggestedadifferentmethodofcalculatingloadthanwhatiscurrentlyemployedbyeither
setofindicators.Thismethodusesflowweightedmeanstomoreaccuratelyreflectphosphorusloading
bysmoothingoutthevariabilityduetotimeofyearorotherfactors.

Ultimately,itwasfeltbytheworkgroupthattrackingphosphorousandnitrogenasseparatemetrics
wouldbeuseful,substitutingtheseparatedmetricsoftheIJCforthecombinedNitrogenand
PhosphorousmetricofSOGL.

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

26

5.1.7 FishSpeciesofInterest
TheFishSpeciesofInterestindicatorisbroadlysimilartotheexistingindicatorsintheSOGLsuite.
AttendeesrecommendedthatitwasimportanttoincludeafewnewelementsintheSOGLindicator
suitetoensurethatmultiplefishspecieswerebeingtrackedseparatelyinsteadofasasingleindicator.

Theattendeesalsospecifiedthatitwasessentialtoincludenearshorepredatorsintheindicator
measures,astheIJCindicatordoes,becausenearshorepredatorsshowsomeofthefastestresponse
timestoenvironmentalperturbations.Lastly,theattendeesfeltthatincludingmeasuresofnaturaland
artificialrecruitmentwerenecessarytoassesstheintegrityofGreatLakesfishspecies.

5.1.8 IllnessRiskatGreatLakesBeaches
TheworkgroupfeltthatitwouldbeimportanttoaddthisindicatortotheSOGLindicatorsuite,primarily
becauseitsmetric(95thpercentileE.colimeasurementsatGreatLakesbeaches)captureselementsof
humanhealthintheGreatLakesthatarecurrentlygoingunassessed.ThecurrentSOGLmeasurerelies
onbeachclosuresasameasureofbeachhealthinsteadofusingabettersurrogateformeasuringhealth
risks.Theworkshopattendeespointedoutthatbeachclosurescanoccurforanynumberofreasons,
suchasregularmaintenancetoundertowstoalgalblooms.Tothisend,theIJCmeasureofcolony
formingE.coliwasfelttobeamoreeffectivemeasureofillnessrisk,eventhoughit,too,isnotdirectly
measuringapathogen.

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

27

5.1.9 ContaminantsinGroundwater
TheContaminantsingroundwaterindicatorwasevaluatedbyattendeesanddeemedtobeahigh
valueindicator.TheindicatorappearsinboththeSOGLandIJCsuites,buttheIJCdatasetfurther
definedthetypesofcontaminantsmonitored.Thus,untiltheSOGLreportfullydefinestheindicator,the
attendeesrecommendedtheIJCindicatorbeincluded.

5.1.10 SourcesofRisksatGreatLakesBeaches
TheworkgroupalsoconsideredtheindicatorSourcesofRisksatGreatLakesBeaches,ameasurethat
attemptedtoassesswhatthespecificsourcesofbeachimpairmentsispresentacrosstheGreatLakes.
Theworkgroupsconsensuswasthat,whilethiswouldbeinformationwithpotentialutility,itseemedto
bedifficulttoobtainwithcertainty,andwouldrequireatremendousinvestmentoftimeandresources
toproduceafunctionaldataset.TheindicatorfocusedonE.coliwhichmaynotleaveauniqueenough
signaturetobetraceabletoitssource.Assuch,theworkgroupdidnotrecommendthisindicatorfor
inclusioninthefinalsuite.

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

28

5.2
GAPSANALYSESANDFINALLISTOFINDICATORS

Afterreviewingallindicatorslackingdata,theworkgroupfeltthattwoindicators(Abundanceand
distributionoffisheatingandcolonialnestingbirds,andContaminantsinGreatLakesediblefish),were
adequatelyaddressedandmonitoreddespiteimperfectdataavailability.Theworkgroupdidnotdiscuss
anyimprovementstotheseindicators.

WorkshopattendeesagreedthatthefollowingSOGLindicatorsdidnotfullyassesstheobjectivesofthe
GLWQA:
AssessmentofthequalityofdrinkingwatersourcesintheGreatLakes(pursuanttoObjective1)
AssessmentofrecreationalimpairmentsintheGreatLakes(pursuanttoObjective2)
AssessmentoftheintegrityofthefoodwebintheGreatLakes(pursuanttoObjective5)
AssessmentofnonwetlandshorelinehabitatsintheGreatLakes(pursuanttoObjective5)
AssessmentofnutrientsintheGreatLakes(pursuanttoObjective6)
AssessmentofthecurrentstatusofinvasivespeciesintheGreatLakes(pursuanttoObjective7).

Toaddressthesegaps,theattendeesagreedtotheinclusionofthefollowingindicatorsandmetricsin
ordertomorefullymonitorprogresstowardstheGLWQA:
Chemicalintegrityofsourcewaterandbiologicalintegrityofsourcewater(Objective1)
IllnessriskatGreatLakesbeaches(Objective2)
Nearshorepredators(Objective5)
UndefinedBiologicalshorelinemetric(Objective5)
Nutrientsinlakes(openwater)(Objective6)
Plankton,AsianCarps,RoundGoby,andRuffe(Objective7)

TheattendeesalsosuggestedmodificationstothefollowingSOGLmetrics:
HarmfulandNuisanceAlgae
AIS
Foodweb(Benthos(nearshore),Mysis,LakeTrout,Walleye,LakeSturgeon)
Contaminantsingroundwater

ThemodificationstotheSOGLmetricsaredetailedinTable52.Themodificationsaremeantto
enhancethelegibilityofdata(asinthecaseofmodificationstothereportingregimeforAquatic
InvasiveSpecies),orensurethatthemetricisbeingfullyassessed(asinthecaseofLakeTroutwhereit
issuggestedthatnaturalandartificialrecruitmentforthepopulationbeconsidered).
Basedontheworkshopsdiscussions,afinallistofindicatorswasthenputtogetherandispresentedin
Table52.IndicatorshighlightedinREDareIJCindicatorsthathavebeensuggestedforinclusioninthe
SOGLsuite.IndicatorsinBLACKareSOGLindicators.MetricswithREDtexthavebeenmodifiedunder
theadvisementoftheworkgroup.

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

29

Table52:FinallistofSOGLandIJCindicators(redfontindicatingchangesrecommendedintheworkshop)

GLWQAGENERAL
OBJECTIVES

HIGHLEVEL
INDICATORS

Objective1:
Beasourceofsafe,
highqualitydrinking
water

SUGGESTED
INDICATORS

SUGGESTEDMETRICS

TreatedDrinkingWater

BiologicalHazardsof
SourceWater
ChemicalIntegrityof
SourceWater

Objective2:
Allowforswimming
andotherrecreational
use,unrestrictedby
environmentalquality
concerns

BeachAdvisories
HUMANHEALTH
IllnessRiskatGL
Beaches

Objective3:
Allowforhuman
consumptionoffish
andwildlife
unrestrictedby
concernsdueto
harmfulpollutants

ContaminantsinEdible
Fish

ToxicChemicalsin
GreatLakesWholeFish
(LakeTrout/Walleye)
Objective4:
Befreefrom
pollutantsin
quantitiesor
concentrationsthat
couldbeharmfulto
humanhealth,
wildlife,oraquatic
organisms,through
directexposureor
indirectexposure
throughthefood
chain

TOXIC
CHEMICALS

ToxicChemicalsin
GreatLakesHerring
GullEggs

ToxicChemical
Concentrations(Open
Water)

ToxicChemicalsin
Sediment

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

E.coli
Nitrate
Turbidity
Atrazine
Estrogenicity
Cyanotoxins
PercentageofGreatLakesbeachseasondaysthatare
monitoredbybeachsafetyprogramsandareopenand
safeforswimming
95th%#ofE.coli/colonyformingunitsofE.coliper100
ml,suggestedmeasuresincludevirusesandphages

Concentrationsofcontaminantsofconcern(e.g.,
polychlorinatedbiphenyls(PCBs),mercury)infishfillet
species,mostconsumedbyGreatLakesbasincitizens

ContaminantlevelsinwholefishfromthefiveGreat
Lakes,legacycompounds(e.g.,PCBs),compoundsthatare
incurrentorrecentuse(e.g.,polybrominateddiphenyl
ethers(PBDEs)),aswellasresultsofsurveillanceactivities
forchemicalsofemergingconcern
AnnualconcentrationsofPCBs;dioxinsandfurans;
organochlorinepesticides,suchas
Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane(DDT)andrelated
metabolites;otherorganiccontaminants;and,trace
metalsincludingmercuryinherringgull(Larusargentatus)
eggsfrom15EnvironmentCanadasGreatLakesHerring
GullMonitoringProgram(GLHGMP)sitesthroughoutthe
GreatLakes(U.S.andCanada)
Organochlorinepesticides,polychlorinatedbiphenyls,
polycyclicaromatichydrocarbons,chlorobenzenes,
polybrominateddiphenylethers,metals,currentuse
pesticides,andothercompoundsofmutualconcernfor
Annex3oftheGLWQA
ThechemicalsthatwillbeassessedmayincludeHCB,
PCBs,DDT,dioxins,lead,andmercury,aswellasPBDEs,
nonbrominatedflameretardants,andchlorinated
paraffins

30

GLWQAGENERAL
OBJECTIVES

HIGHLEVEL
INDICATORS

SUGGESTED
INDICATORS
Atmospheric
DepositionofToxic
Chemicals
WaterQualityin
Tributaries

FishEatingandColonial
NestingWaterbirds

CoastalWetland
Invertebrates
CoastalWetlandFish
CoastalWetlandPlants
CoastalWetland
Amphibians

Objective5:
Supporthealthyand
productivewetlands
andotherhabitatsto
sustainresilient
populationsofnative
species

HABITATS
&
SPECIES

CoastalWetlandBirds

CoastalWetlands:
ExtentandComposition

HardenedShorelines

FOODWEB

UndefinedBiological
ShorelineIndicator
SAICombinedPhysical
andBiologicalIndex
Phytoplankton(Open
Water)
Zooplankton(Open
Water)
Benthos(openwater)
Benthos(nearshore)
Mysis
Diporeia(OpenWater)

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

SUGGESTEDMETRICS
Leadandmercury,aswellasPBDEs,nonbrominated
flameretardants,andchlorinatedparaffins

Elevenfocalspeciesofcolonialwaterbirdsbreedatsites
(predominantlyislands)distributedacrossalloftheGreat
Lakes:Herring,RingbilledandGreatBlackbackedgulls,
Caspian,Common,ForstersandBlackterns,GreatBlue
Herons,GreatEgrets,BlackcrownedNightHeronsand
DoublecrestedCormorant
Nestcountsofcolonialwaterbirdspeciesacrossallwater
bodiesandconnectingchannelsAnnualand10year
Clutchsize,eggvolume,hatchingandfledgingsuccess,
natalandbreedingsitefidelity,ageatfirstbreeding,and
agespecific
survivorship
Relativeabundanceofsensitivetaxa(e.g.,mayflies,
caddisflies),toleranttaxa(e.g.Chironominiasa
proportionoftotalChironomidaeabundance,Isopoda),
richnessofspecifictaxa,andfunctionalfeedinggroups
(e.g.,herbivores,detritivores,carnivores)
IndexofBioticIntegrity
Presence,abundance,anddiversityofaquatic
macrophytes
Measuresofcompositionandrelativeabundanceof
callingfrogsandtoads
Compositionandrelativeabundanceofwetlandbreeding
birds
Arealextentofcoastalwetlandsbyhydrogeomorphictype
inafiveyearperiod;datafromLandsat8,Sentinel2,and
LbandSARdatafromJapansPALSAR2andArgentinas
SaoCom(tobelaunchedinearly2016)willallowforan
approximatefiveyearupdate
Ratioofhumanmodifiedshorelinetothetotalshoreline,
inkilometers
Shouldincludenonwetlandecosystemquality

Biovolumeanddensityofphytoplanktonandtaxonomic
compositionforspringandlatesummer
Offshorezooplanktonindexisoverallarealbiomass(gdry
weight/m2)
OligochaeteTrophicIndex

Biomass
Density(number/m2)ofDiporeiaincold,deepwater
habitatsoftheGreatLakes

31

GLWQAGENERAL
OBJECTIVES

HIGHLEVEL
INDICATORS

SUGGESTED
INDICATORS
Preyfish(OpenWater)

LakeTrout

Walleye

LakeSturgeon

NearshorePredators
Objective6:
Befreefromnutrients
thatdirectlyor
indirectlyenterthe
waterasaresultof
humanactivity,in
amountsthatdirectly
orindirectlyenterthe
waterasaresultof
humanactivity,in
amountsthatpromote
growthofalgaeand
cyanobacteriathat
interferewithaquatic
ecosystemhealth,or
humanuseofthe
ecosystem

Objective7:
Befreefromthe
introductionand
spreadofaquatic
invasivespeciesand
freefromthe
introductionand
spreadofterrestrial
invasivespeciesthat
adverselyimpactthe
qualityoftheWaters
oftheGreatLakes

NutrientsinLakes
(OpenWater)

HARMFUL&
NUISANCE
ALGAE

INVASIVE
SPECIES

AlgalBlooms

SUGGESTEDMETRICS
Twotimeseriesincluding:1)thepreyfishcommunity
diversityasquantifiedbytheShannondiversityindex,and
2)theproportionofnativepreyfishinthetotalpreyfish
catch;naturalandartificialrecruitment
Absoluteabundance,relativeabundance,harvest,and
selfsustainabilitythroughnaturalreproduction;natural
andartificialrecruitment
Abundance,spawnerbiomass,recruitment,age/lengthat
maturity,andfisheryperformance(effort,catchrate,
yield);naturalandartificialrecruitment
Standardizedscoringoflakespecificadultabundance,
juvenileabundance,andnumberofselfsustaining
populationsforlakesturgeon;naturalandartificial
recruitment
Naturalandartificialrecruitmentandabundanceof
northernpike,yellowperch,orsmallmouth/largemouth
bass
Nitrates(NO3)concentrationsintheWatersofGL
suggestedmetricsincludeothernitrogenspecies
InLakeTPandDRPconcentrations
TPandDRPloadingfromTribs(suggestedmeasurements
includeflowweightedmeansinparttoaccountfor
seasonalvariability.
HarmfulAlgalBlooms
NuisancePelagicAlgalBloom
ExcessiveBenthicAlgalAbundance

Cladophora

BiomassofCladophoraingramsdryweight(DW)/m2;no
regularmeasurementsofbiomassbyprovinces,states,or
federalgovernment;lackofsystematicsurveys

AquaticInvasive
Species

CumulativenumberofAISestablishedintheGreatLakes
basin;rateofnewAISfoundinGLorannualnumeric
reductioninestablished
AIS

Plankton
AsianCarps
RoundGoby
Ruffe
SeaLamprey

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

Indicesofadultsealampreyabundance(sumofspawning
runestimatesforasubsetofstreamsinagivenlakebasin.
Thenumbersofadultsealampreysmigratingintoeach
indexstreamareestimatedwithtrapsusing

32

GLWQAGENERAL
OBJECTIVES

HIGHLEVEL
INDICATORS

SUGGESTED
INDICATORS

DreissenidMussels
TerrestrialInvasive
Species
Objective8:
Befreefromthe
harmfulimpactof
contaminated
groundwater

GROUND
WATER

CLIMATE
CHANGE

Contaminantsin
Groundwater

Measure>10chemicalsfromagricultureandurban
watershedsMoredefinitionneeded

Longtermwaterlevelvariabilitytimingofseasonalwater
levelmaximumandminimum,andmagnitudeofseasonal
riseanddeclinelaketolakewaterleveldifference

SurfaceWater
Temperature

Annualsummer(JulySeptember)surfaceaverage
temperatureforeach;firstdateatwhichwater
temperatureswarm/cooltothenaturalmarkerof4C.

PrecipitationEvents
BaseflowDueto
Groundwater

WatershedStressors

TRANSFORMING
WATERSHEDS

mark/recaptureestimates.Indicesofadultsealamprey
abundanceareupdatedonanannualbasis
Dreissenidabundances,biomass,sizefrequency
distributions,andlengthweightrelationships

WaterLevels

IceCover

Objective9:
Befreefromother
substances,materials
orconditionsthatmay
negativelyimpactthe
chemical,physicalor
biologicalintegrityof
theWatersofthe
GreatLakes

SUGGESTEDMETRICS

Annualmaximumandaverageiceconcentrationsofthe
GreatLakes

Measurelongtermaveragebaseflowrelativetototal
streamflow,referredtoastheBaseflowIndex;indexisa
dimensionlessvaluebetween0and1
Useacombinedagricultureanddevelopmentstressindex
(AgDev)tocalculatescoresforindividualGreatLakes
watershedsusingaconsistentscaleamongreporting
periods

ForestCover

Measure,usingremotesensing,theforestcover
percentagechangedovertimewithinGreatLakes
watersheds,andtheforestcoverpercentagechanged
overtimewithinriparianzonesbywatershed

LandCover

Measurearealcoverage(km2)ofvarioustypesofland
coverandthepercentchangedovertimerelativetoa
benchmarksetin2000(shouldmeasureremediation
actions)

TributaryFlashiness

HabitatConnectivity
HumanPopulation

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

RichardsBakerFlashinessIndex(RBIndex)
Countthenumberofdams/barriersintheGreatLakes
basin,numberoffish,andrestoration/mitigationprojects,
andmeasurethelengthoftherivertothefirstdam
Calculatepercentagechangefortotalhumanpopulation
usingCanadianandU.S.censusdataandintercensaldata

33

5.3
ADDITIONALMONITORINGSUGGESTIONSFORFUTUREINCLUSION
Lastly,workshopattendeesrecommendedthefollowingtopicsshouldbeconsideredforfutureinclusion
astheymeritfurtherdiscussioneitheraspotentialindicatorsoraspotentialmetrics.Theyare
conceptualinnature,andarepresentedheretoillustrateboththescopeoftheconversationsaswellas
generalareasthatmaynotbebeingmonitoredfullywiththeproposedindicatorsuite:

Septicsystemmonitoring

Spinywaterflea

Phragmites

Bacterialcommunitybiomass

Harmfulimpactsofinvasivespecies

Positiveimpactsofbestmanagementpractices

Tributaryhabitatquality

Nearshorephosphorus

Agriculturalimpairments

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

34

6.0 WORK CITED

GreatLakesWaterQualityAgreementof1978,Article31a(2012).

WhatistheGreatLakesWaterQualityAgreement?(2012).RetrievedJanuary17,2015.
http://ec.gc.ca/Publications/85E1427235DD4DE782E244890DC7FABD/COM
1555_OVERVIEW_WEB_e.pdf

AssessmentofProgressMadeTowardsRestoringandMaintainingGreatLakesWaterQualitySince
1987:16thBiennialReportonGreatLakesWaterQuality(2013).Windsor,ON:TheInternationalJoint
Commission.

GreatLakesEcosystemIndicatorsProjectReport(pp.1248,Rep.).(2014).Windsor,ON:The
InternationalJointCommission.

M.Roth,B.,Riseng,C.,SparksJackson,B.,W.Fetzer,W.,&R.Infante,D.(2015).AssessmentofProgress
IndicatorDataIntegrationandDatagaps,aFinalReporttotheInternationalJointCommission.
InternationalJointCommission

Brodkin,D.,Dellinger,J.,Keifer,M.,Orris,P.,Shapiro,H.,&Takaro,T.(2014).RecommendedHuman
HealthIndicatorsforAssessmentofProgressontheGreatLakesWaterQualityAgreement(pp.1248,
Rep.).Windsor,ON:TheInternationalJointCommission.

IdentifyingFutureImprovementsToGreatLakes
Ecosystem&HumanHealthIndicators

35

Thispageintentionallyleftblankasthisreportismeanttobeprinteddoublesided.

www.ectinc.com