Great Lakes annual water use data available

The Great Lakes Commission is pleased to announce the release of the Great Lakes Regional Water Use Database annual reports for 2001 and 2002. These reports are now online at

This database provides a centralized source of information on withdrawals, diversions, and consumptive use of Great Lakes water, based on data provided by the eight Great Lakes states and the provinces of Ontario and Québec. Available in both gallons and liters, the reports show water uses by jurisdiction, basin, category of use, and source (groundwater, Great Lakes surface water and other surface water).

“As our ability to collect and report water use data improves, this database has the potential to be a very important tool for both researchers and policymakers,” said Minnesota state Rep. Tom Huntley, chair of the Great Lakes Commission. “In order to properly manage our water resources and protect the Great Lakes from abuse, we need to have access to good data on existing uses, and this database is an important first step toward achieving this goal.”

Water withdrawn for the purpose of generating electricity is the greatest use of Great Lakes water, with hydroelectric, nuclear and fossil fuel power plants representing the top three categories of overall use. However, most of the water withdrawn for power generation is returned to the system without being consumed. Water withdrawals for public water supply, industrial uses and irrigation, which are the next three largest water use categories, have a higher consumptive use rate because water is consumed in processes or products.

Each report is presented in three sections: 1) Introduction, Summary (basin-wide) Tables, and Jurisdictional Analyses and Tables; 2) Basin Tables; and 3) Water Use Category Tables.

Management of the database is an ongoing Commission activity on behalf of the Great Lakes states and provinces to fulfill obligations outlined in the Great Lakes Charter of 1985. In particular, the database addresses the commitment to “pursue the development and maintenance of a common base of data and information regarding the use and management of the basin water resources and the establishment of systematic arrangements for the exchange of water data and information.”

The regional water use database has been operational since the summer of 1988, following a multiyear design and development effort. Additional data and annual reports for 1998-2000 are available

For immediate release: November 9, 2005
Contact: Marilyn Ratliff,, office: 734-971-9135


The Great Lakes Commission, chaired by Lt. Gov. John Cherry (Mich.), is an interstate compact agency established under state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and its residents. The Commission consists of governors’ appointees, state legislators, and agency officials from its eight member states. Associate membership for Ontario and Québec was established through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.” The Commission maintains a formalObserver program involving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests. The Commission offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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