Lake Superior Facts
Average Depth*: 483 ft.
Maximum Depth*: 1,332 ft.
Volume*: 2,900 cubic mi.
Water Area: 31,700 sq. mi.
Land Drainage Area: 49,300 sq. mi.
Shoreline Length (including islands): 2,726 mi.
Retention Time (the mean time that water spends in the lake): 191 yrs.
* measured at low water
Lake Superior is the largest of the Great Lakes in terms of water volume. It is also the deepest and coldest of the five Great Lakes. Most of the Lake Superior basin is forested, with little agriculture because of a cool climate and poor soils. The forests and sparse population result in relatively few pollutants entering Lake Superior, except through airborne transport.On this page:
Lake Superior Environmental Monitoring Collaborative
EPA is planning to hold meetings in early June 2015 to discuss the Lake Superior Environmental Collaborative with non-governmental organizations and the regulated community in the Lake Superior Basin. The meeting with non-governmental organizations will be held on June 9th at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland, Wisconsin. The meeting with the regulated community will be held on June 16th at the EPA Region 5 Office in Chicago.
Environmental Monitoring Collaborative Contacts
Wendy Carney (firstname.lastname@example.org) 312-353-6553
Eileen Deamer (email@example.com) 312-886-1728
March 2015 Meeting
On March 19-20, 2015, EPA hosted a Lake Superior Environmental Monitoring Collaborative meeting in Houghton, Michigan at Michigan Tech. Seventeen academic researchers made presentations describing their environmental monitoring work in the Lake Superior Basin. After the presentations, representatives of federal, state and tribal agencies continued discussions about their joint efforts to develop an online catalogue to expand access to environmental monitoring data.
Materials from the March 2015 meeting:
- G. Meadows - Michigan Tech - Under Ice Water Quality (PDF) (10 pp, 1.9 MB)
- W.C. Kerfoot - Michigan Tech - A Plague Of Water Fleas: Spiny Cladoceran Impacts On Lake Food Webs (PDF) (41 pp, 3.4 MB)
- R. Sterner - U of MN/Duluth - Large Lakes Observatory Lake Superior (PDF) (26 pp, 1.3 MB)
- C. Mouw - Michigan Tech - Optical Observations and Visible Remote Sensing of Lake Superior (PDF) (25 pp, 3.1 MB)
- A. Marcarelli - Michigan Tech - Water chemistry and nutrient cycling in tributaries of Lake Superior (PPTX) (21 pp, 4.7 MB)
- A. Mayer - Michigan Tech - Environmental monitoring work in the Lake Superior basin: Indicators and Primary Data (PDF) (11 pp, 1.1 MB)
- M. Cooper - Central Michigan - Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Monitoring for Protection and Restoration (PDF) (26 pp, 1.5 MB)
- P. Xue - Michigan Tech - Great Lakes Research Center: Hydrodynamic Modeling of Lake Superior (PDF) (16 pp, 2.3 MB)
- A. Mayer - Michigan Tech - Mobile Environmental Citizen Science (PDF) (11 pp, 816 K)
- E. Reavie - U of MN/Duluth - Lake Superior Collections (PDF) (29 pp, 5.2 MB)
- K. Juneau - Michigan Tech - Control, Monitoring, and Effects of Eurasian Watermilfoil (PDF) (14 pp, 2.6 MB)
- K Meingast - Michigan Tech - Investigating optical properties and dissolved organic matter composition in near-shore Lake Superior with emphasis on the spring freshet (PDF) (12 pp, 629 K)
- R. Lehr - Northland College - Monitoring and Assessment in the Chequamegon Bay Area (PDF) (13 pp, 1.1 MB)
- D. Watkins - Michigan Tech - Great Lakes Net Basin Supply and Water Level Monitoring (PDF) (14 pp, 878 K)
- T. Ledder - U of WI/Superior - National Estuarine Research Reserve System-Wide Monitoring Program (PDF) (23 pp, 2.8 MB)
- J. Wagenbrenner - Michigan Tech - Applied Watershed Hydrology in the Superior Basin (PDF) (11 pp, MB)
- D. Schneider - Michigan Tech - Historical Production of Mine Pollution (PDF) (13 pp, 511 K)
- M. Dijkstra – Michigan Tech - The Impact of “Big Heat” (2012) and “Big Chill” (2014) on Lake Superior (PDF) (18 pp, 1.3 MB)
- L. Johnson - U of MN/Duluth - Great Lakes Environmental Indicators (PDF) (20 pp, 3.6 MB)
- R. Schuchman - Michigan Tech - Retrieving Chlorophyll, Dissolved Organic Carbon, and Suspended Minerals from Great Lakes Satellite Data: Examples for Lake Superior Monitoring (PDF) (4 pp, 821 K)
- Approaches for Data Sharing:Science in the Great Lakes (SiGL) Mapper (PDF) (25 pp, 1.8 MB)
- Overview of SiGL USGS
- Update on Implementing SiGL USGS/EPA
- Overview of Great Lakes Monitoring System IL/IN Sea Grant
On Dec. 3, 2014, U.S. Geological Survey hosted a webinar to demonstrate the on-line catalogue under development for collecting information on Lake Superior basin environmental monitoring work. More than 50 people representing 19 different organizations, including tribes and federal and state agencies, participated in the webinar.
November 2014 Meeting
On Nov. 19-20, 2014, EPA hosted a meeting in Duluth, Minnesota to kick off a Lake Superior Environmental Monitoring Collaborative. Ten tribes, eight federal agencies and the states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin participated in the meeting. Technical experts from state and federal agencies and tribes made presentations describing ongoing environmental monitoring work in the Lake Superior Basin and discussed opportunities to improve access to this information.
At the end of the meeting, participants agreed on several next steps:
- Agencies and tribes will submit information about their Lake Superior basin environmental monitoring work to an on-line catalogue being developed by the U.S. Geological Survey.
- The Lake Superior Binational Program will convene a workgroup to propose directions for future environmental monitoring work in the Lake Superior Basin.
- EPA will convene additional meetings over the coming months to discuss the Lake Superior Environmental Collaborative with academia, non-governmental organizations, and the regulated community in the Lake Superior Basin.
Materials from November 2014 Meeting
- Agenda (PDF) (3 pp, 204 K)
- List of Attendees (PDF) (1 pg, 2 K)
- Summary of Environmental Monitoring Presentations (PDF) (10 pp, 244 K)
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency #1 Surface Water Quality Data (PDF) (6 pp, 1.4 MB)
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency #2 Great Lakes Monitoring and Surveillance Programs (PDF) (39 pp, 2.9 MB)
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency #3 Lake Superior Monitoring (PDF) (11 pp, 1.6 MB)
- Bureau of Indian Affairs (PDF) (20 pp, 2.9 MB)
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (PDF) (12 pp, 1.7 MB)
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (PDF) (12 pp, 4.1 MB)
- U.S. Forest Service (PDF) (8 pp, 480 K)
- U.S. Geological Survey (PDF) (31 pp, 6.3 MB)
- National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (PDF) (17 pp, 3.7 MB)
- National Park Service (PDF) (21 pp, 3.5 MB)
- Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (PDF) (24 pp, 4.7 MB)
- Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (PDF) (43 pp, 16.9 MB)
- Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (PDF) (17 pp, 3.2 MB)
- Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (PDF) (1 pg, 116 K)
- Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (PDF) (13 pp, 1.1 MB)
- Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (PDF) (24 pp, 2.8 MB)
- Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (PDF) (45 pp, 5.2 MB)
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (PDF) (11 pp, 1.7 MB)
- National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (PDF) (14 pp, 3.2 MB)
- U.S. Geological Survey (PDF) (16 pp, 2.5 MB)
- Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (PDF) (11 pp, 837 K)
- Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (PDF) (8 pp, 0 MB)
Lake Superior Binational Program
Lake Superior Binational Program Contact
Elizabeth LaPlante (firstname.lastname@example.org) 312-353-2694
Lake Superior is a vast fresh water resource that has not experienced the same levels of development, urbanization and pollution as the other Great Lakes. Recognizing the unique qualities of this resource, the United States and Canada developed A Binational Program to Restore and Protect the Lake Superior Basin. This program focuses on the entire Lake Superior ecosystem - air, land and water – to restore degraded areas and protect this unique headwater lake for the people and wildlife that use it.
- Lake Superior Aquatic Invasive Species Complete Prevention Plan (PDF) (92 pp, 1.5 MB) January 2014
- Lake Superior Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation - January 2014 (PDF) (139 pp, 3.4 MB) January 2014
- Lake Superior Lakewide Action and Management Plan Annual Report 2013 (PDF) (4 pp, 741K)
- Lake Superior Zero Discharge Demonstration Program (PDF) (8 pp, 587K) November 2012
- Lake Superior 2012 Lakewide Management Plan Annual Report (PDF) (4 pp, 753 K)
- Lake Superior 2011 Lakewide Management Plan Annual Report (PDF) (4 pp, 948 K)
- Lake Superior Lakewide Management Plan: 1990-2010 Critical Chemical Reduction Milestones (PDF) (118 pp, 2 MB) October 2012
- DRAFT Lake Superior Aquatic Invasive Species Complete Prevention Plan (PDF) (89 pp, 1.4 MB) September 2010
- Lake Superior 2008 Lakewide Management Plan
- Strategic Outcomes and Ecosystem Goals (PDF) (9 pp, 83 K)
- Lake Superior Lakewide Management Plan: 1990-2005 Critical Chemical Reduction Milestones (PDF) (217 pp, 175 MB)
- Lake Superior Lakewide Management Plan 2006
- Lake Superior Highlights 2005 (PDF) (4 pp, 270 K)
- Lake Superior Day: July 17, 2005 (PDF) (2 pp, 341 K)
- Making A Great Leake Superior! Spring 2005 (PDF) (4 pp, 380 K)
The Lake Superior Binational Forum's newspaper insert about Lake Superior Binational Program accomplishments and activities in three cities around Lake Superior.
- Lake Superior Lakewide Management Plan Highlights 2004 (PDF) (8 pp, 274 K)
- Lake Superior Lakewide Management Plan 2004
- Lake Superior Lakewide Management Plan 2002 Progress Report:
- Lake Superior LaMP 2002 Progress Report: Part A (PDF) (20 pp, 1.3 MB)
- Lake Superior LaMP 2002 Progress Report: Part B (PDF) (23 pp, 1.8 MB)
- Lake Superior LaMP 2002 Progress Report: Part C (PDF) (28 pp, 6.4 MB)
- Ecosystem Principles and Objectives, Indicators and Targets for Lake Superior (PDF) (118 pp, 324 K)
- Lake Superior Binational Monitoring Workshop Proceedings (PDF) (95 pp, 270 K)
- Lake Superior Lakewide Management Plan 2000 - Summary Version (PDF) (64 pp, 761 K)
- Lake Superior Lakewide Management Plan 2000
What is a beneficial use impairment?
Impairment of beneficial use is a change in the chemical, physical, or biological integrity of the Great Lakes system sufficient to cause any of the following 14 use impairments:
- restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
- tainted fish and wildlife flavor
- loss of fish or wildlife habitat
- degraded fish and wildlife populations
- fish tumors or other deformities
- bird or animal deformities or reproductive problems
- degradation of benthic macroinvertebrate communities
- restrictions on dredging activities
- eutrophication or undesirable algae
- restrictions on drinking water consumption or taste and odor problems
- beach closings
- degradation of aesthetics
- added costs to agriculture and industry
- degradation of phytoplankton and zooplankton
What is a remedial action plan?
The remedial action plan, or RAP, is a process to clean up the waterfront, rivers, habitats and waters. The United States and Canada, as part of the Great Lake Water Quality Agreement, committed to cooperate with State and Provincial Governments to ensure that RAPs are developed and implemented for all Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes basin. Forty-three AOCs have been identified: 26 located entirely within the United States; 12 located entirely within Canada; and five that are shared by both countries. RAPs address impairments to any one of 14 beneficial uses (e.g., restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption, dredging activities, or drinking water consumption) associated with these areas.
What is a delisting target?
In order to move towards formal delisting, RAPs need delisting targets to gauge their success:
- Delisting targets should be premised on local goals and related environmental objectives for the watershed; they should be consistent with the applicable federal and state regulations, objectives, guidelines, standards and policies, when available, and the principles and objectives embodied in Annex 2 and supporting parts of the GLWQA.
- Delisting targets should have measurable indicators.
- Delisting targets should be developed and periodically reviewed on a site specific basis (allowing for flexibility in addressing local conditions) by the respective state agencies, in consultation with local stakeholder groups. This is particularly important if new information becomes available.