Detroit River-Western Lake Erie Basin Indicator Project

Welcome the Detroit River-Western Lake Erie Basin Indicator Project

There is a long history of U.S.-Canada cooperation on investigating, monitoring, and managing the Great Lakes, including the Detroit River and Western Lake Erie. The Detroit River-Western Lake Erie ecosystem has many long-term data sets because of its manufacturing history that contributed to many long-standing environmental and natural resource problems. This Detroit River-Western Lake Erie indicator project will:

  • compile and analyze available, U.S. and Canadian data on various indicators of ecosystem status, quality, and trends, and the factors that affect them;
  • translate and communicate indicator trends clearly for policy-makers and managers; and
  • identify data gaps and future indicators to be able to comprehensively assess the state of this ecosystem.

What is an Indicator?

An indicator is a measurable feature that provides useful information on ecosystem status, quality, or trends and the factors that affect them. Examples of indicators used in this report include contaminants in fish, coastal wetland loss, reproductive success of threatened and endangered species, urban sprawl, land-use changes, pollutant emissions, and many others. Indicator reporting clearly communicates ecosystem trends to policy makers and managers to aid in decision-making.

Indicators are frequently placed into three different categories to illustrate causal relationships: pressure, state, and response.

  • Pressure indicators describe the direct and indirect pressures, including human activities that impact the environment.

  • State indicators describe the physical, chemical, and biological condition of the natural world and human health and welfare.

  • Response indicators describe societal actions in policy or behavior undertaken to improve and protect the environment.

Policy-makers and decision-makers at all levels need timely, reliable, and relevant information on indicators for management purposes. Indicators measure progress toward management goals and objectives. From a management perspective, particular emphasis needs to be placed on quantifying targets and endpoints for management programs.


Purpose of the Indicator Project

The purpose of this project is to:

  • Compile and interpret long-term data bases for ecosystem indicators from the Detroit River-Western Lake Erie basin;
  • Translate the information into understandable terms for policy-makers and managers; and
  • Make these indicator data and trends readily available.
In order to narrow the scope of this project and keep it manageable, particular emphasis will be given to ecosystem indicators from the Detroit River-Western Lake Erie basin, however, it is recognized that some indicators will be larger in scope and include the entire Huron- Erie corridor (St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, Detroit River and Western Lake Erie).


Benefits of the Indicator Project

This indicator project will help:
  • Educate policy-makers and decision-makers on status and trends of indicators;
  • Improve accessibility of data and information;
  • Measure and celebrate success;
  • Foster adaptive management;
  • Fabricate watershed level ecological health assessment;
  • Build support for additional remedial and preventive management actions; and
  • Promote stewardship through broad-based education.

Indicator Project Partners:

  • Canadian Consulate
  • Canada Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  • Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan
  • Detroit Audubon Society
  • Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant
  • DTE Energy
  • Environment Canada
  • Essex Region Conservation Authority
  • Heidelberg College
  • International Association for Great Lakes Research
  • International Joint Commission
  • Metropolitan Affairs Coalition
  • Michigan Department of Natural Resources
  • Michigan Sea Grant
  • Monroe Water Intake
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Ohio Department of Natural Resources - Division of Geological Survey
  • Ontario Ministry of Environment
  • Southeast Michigan Council of Governments
  • Southeast Michigan Raptor Research
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • University of Michigan - Dearborn
  • University of Michigan - School of Natural Resources
  • University of Windsor
  • U.S. Coast Guard
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • Wayne State University

Join the Indicator Project Team:

To become a partner in this Indicator Project please contact:

Co-Chair - John H. Hartig

Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research
University of Windsor

Co-Chair - Jan Ciborowski

University of Windsor

Collin Knauss

School of Environment and Sustainability
University of Michigan

For website inquiries or technical difficulties please contact:

Webmaster - Kyle Swiston

University of Windsor