The Great Lakes Commission: Creating Resources for Source Water Protection

August 4, 2018

By Jannice Newson, University of Missouri.

This summer, I spent my time as an intern at the Great Lakes Commission (GLC), working on their Blue Accounting Program’s Source Water Initiative under program manager Nicole Zacharda. The Source Water Initiative is one of the six projects that currently comprise the Blue Accounting information system. This project looks to secure a safe and sustainable domestic water supply through collaboration among water professionals in the Great Lakes basin and St. Lawrence River The initiative currently has five goals and several metrics under evaluation to determine how to best measure progress toward source water protection goals in the region.

Source Water Library

The Blue Accounting website is still under construction, so the complete aggregate of information on the Source Water Initiative is not yet available. Upon completion, there will be a Source Water Library for anyone to utilize and find relevant information regarding source water protection in the Great Lakes. Each resource in the library will fall into one of the following categories: data, maps, tools, programs, partnerships, plans, reports, funding opportunities, projects, best practices, jobs, training, success stories, and articles.

During my stint with the GLC, I started to compile, organize, and describe resources for the Source Water Library. This library will be searchable by keyword and filtered by the aforementioned categories. I also created a form for members of the Source Water Work Group to fill out with any recommendations for resources that should be included in the library.


Infographics are a great way to convey ideas and processes in a concise manner. I have created two infographics using Piktochart pertaining to source water. One of the infographics connects source water terminology used in the United States and in Canada in order facilitate binational communication. It also includes community water system size categories and statistics on source water in the U.S. The other infographic is a general overview of the Source Water Initiative. It includes definitions for source water and source water protection, draft goals and metrics, and a proposed value statement. I hope that these graphics will break down barriers to binational communication on source water and explain the purpose and trajectory of the Blue Accounting Source Water Initiative.

Infographics may be viewed at

Brown Bag Lunch

To wrap up the summer, Yorick Oden-Plants, my fellow DDCSP intern, and I did a presentation on our last day at the GLC. We talked about each of our respective projects and what we did collectively with DDCSP.

Source Water Webinar and Erie P Market Meeting

Blue Accounting Source Water Webinar – July 13, 2017

Prior to the webinar, the GLC met with the Source Water Work Group and came up with draft goals for the Source Water Initiative. During the webinar, the Work Group voted on those goals, and whether to keep them or change them. The workgroup also voted on proposed metrics tied to these goals and made suggestions for additional metrics. The menu items for the website were introduced, as well potential pilot communities to administer services to.

Erie P Market Meeting – July 17, 2017

The Erie P Market is an approach for reducing phosphorus in the Western Lake Erie Basin through water quality trading. Industrial and municipal facilities purchase credits from agricultural operations using conservation practices. By purchasing these credits, these industries and municipalities remain in compliance with their pollution permits, agricultural operations have a new source of revenue, and phosphorus entering the basin is limited. The GLC met with the Erie P Market Trading Advisory Group to discuss options for contracting and templates.

So Now What

I have enjoyed my time spent at the Great Lakes Commission. I have learned much more about this organization and the extent of work done here to protect the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. I appreciate the opportunity to have worked with Nicole, Victoria, Dan, and Ned on the Blue Accounting Program’s Source Water Initiative and I cannot wait to see where the project goes!