Several federal, state and tribal agencies are forming the Lake Michigan Monitoring Coordination Council to support resource management efforts in the Lake Michigan basin. The council responds to the need for enhanced coordination, communication and data management among the many agencies and organizations that conduct or benefit from monitoring efforts in the Lake Michigan basin. The council will provide a forum to identify gaps and establish monitoring priorities; exchange information and form partnerships; and promote standardized methodologies for collecting and managing data to reduce costs and facilitate access to information across agency and jurisdictional boundaries. The council will work in cooperation with the Lake Michigan Lakewide Management Plan in developing and periodically updating a monitoring plan for the Lake Michigan basin.
The Lake Michigan Monitoring Coordination Council reflects and responds to similar initiatives underway at state and federal levels. In 1992 the Intergovernmental Task Force on Monitoring Water Quality (ITFM) was formed to review water quality monitoring activities in the United States. The ITFM's final report recommended a strategy for improving nationwide water-quality monitoring efforts. Specifically, the strategy highlighted the need for comparable and scientifically defensible information, interpretations, and evaluations of water-quality conditions to support decisionmaking at local, state, tribal, interstate and national levels. The 1998 Clean Water Action Plan echoed these recommendations and called for the development of comparable data standards, resource classifications, inventory methods and protocols.
In 1997 the National Water Quality Monitoring Council was formed as the permanent successor to the ITFM. The council's purpose is to support water-quality-information aspects of natural resources management and environmental protection and to coordinate the voluntary implementation of the ITFM's recommendations. The council includes representatives from federal, interstate, state, tribal, local, and municipal government agencies, industry, environmental groups, universities and volunteer monitoring groups. The council is co-chaired by USGS and U.S. EPA, with secretariat support provided by USGS. The council is a subgroup of and reports to the federal Advisory Committee on Water Information (ACWI), which advises the federal government on activities and programs designed to meet the nation's water information needs. The Water Resources Division of USGS chairs the ACWI and has overall responsibility for the federal government=s Water Information Coordination Program. (Additional information on these groups and the Water Information Coordination Program)
Several states, including Maryland, Colorado and Arizona, have formed water quality monitoring councils to promote collaborative efforts aimed at facilitating the effective collection, interpretation, and dissemination of environmental monitoring data. The Lake Michigan Monitoring Coordination Council is the first such entity to be based on an ecosystem rather than political boundaries.
Status and Activities to Date
In 1998 the Midwest Natural Resources Group, composed of managers from numerous federal agencies, recommended a forum for coordinating monitoring activities in the Lake Michigan basin. Subsequent discussions among staff from U.S. EPA, USGS and several state agencies laid the groundwork for the Lake Michigan Monitoring Coordination Council. A preliminary meeting was held in April 1999 to discuss the council's scope and to begin drafting the council's proposed mission, objectives, membership structure and related items. The Great Lakes Commission, a compact agency of the eight Great Lakes states, has been invited to provide secretariat support for the council with funding currently provided by the U.S. U.S. EPA Lake Michigan Team. The Commission will solicit formal representation on the council during the summer of 1999 with the council formally established and the first full meeting in the fall. A council website has been established at http://wi.water.usgs.gov/lmmcc/index.html