On April 17, 2020, the Great Lakes Commission gave a virtual tour of its Blue Accounting website and the kinds of data available there.
Eric Brown, senior advisor for external relations, gave an overview of the commission’s history and the history of the Blue Accounting effort, followed by in-depth presentations/looks at pages presented by Program Managers Nicole Zacharda, who spotlighted the page on Lake Erie, and Erika Jensen, who spotlighted the page on Aquatic Invasive Species.
CIO Rhonda Wille also discussed how the website was developed, stressing the importance of feedback from legislators who are the site’s primary audience, and asked legislators for ongoing feedback to help the site’s continuing development.
Sen. Janet Bewley of Wisconsin asked if adequate attention is being paid to hydrology and flood prevention or recovery as climate patterns shift. Zacharda said Brown is working on resilience around the Great Lakes region; hydrology is an apt topic for consideration as a better understanding of how water moves through the entire system is needed. The Commission is also working on restoration of natural features, which will ultimately aid flood prevention.
Rep. Michael Sheehy of Ohio asked if it’s true that Great Lakes high and low water levels are cyclical on a 15-year basis. Brown said yes, and that the cycles’ high- and low-water marks are not only becoming more extreme, but the cycles are starting to come faster.
Rep. Tim Butler of Illinois asked how and why the name “Blue Accounting” had been chosen. Brown said the name was developed during branding work done in the project’s early days.