Great Lakes Compact

tree-lined shoreland on the lake superior

These historic documents were approved by the Governors of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and the Premiers of Ontario and Quebec in order to act together to protect, conserve, restore, improve and effectively manage the waters and water dependent natural resources of the Basin.

10 Years Protecting the Great Lakes

October 3, 2018 marks the tenth anniversary of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact being signed into law by former President George w. Bush.

Lake Superior Watershed

Click to enlarge

Map showing the Lake Superior Watershed covering the southern halves of Cook, Lake, and St. Louis counties, the eastern half of Carlton County, the northeastern corner of Pine County, and dipping a little into the eastern edges of Itasca and Aitkin counties.

Regional, National, and Bi-National Information

  • The Conference of Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers  encourages and facilitates environmentally responsible economic growth through a cooperative effort between the public and private sectors among the eight Great Lakes States and with Ontario and Quebec.
  • Through the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River Water Resources Council and Regional Body  the Great Lakes Governors and Premiers work to put the Agreement into action.
  • The Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council  (Compact Council ) was established on December 8, 2008, when the Compact became State and federal law (Public Law No: 110-342  ). The Compact details how the States will work together to manage and protect the Basin. It also provides a framework for each State to enact programs and laws protecting the Basin.

Compact Implementation in Minnesota

  • In 2007 Minnesota enacted the Great Lakes Compact into law (Minnesota Statutes, section 103G.801   ). This law includes the water conservation goals in Compact Section 4.2.1. The document, Minnesota Water Conservation Goals and Objectives, provides a summary of these. The law also provides that new diversions of water from the Great Lakes Basin are prohibited with limited exemptions. The Lake Superior-North, Lake Superior-South, Cloquet River, St. Louis River, and Nemadji River watersheds in Minnesota are within the Great Lakes Basin.
  • Minnesota's water appropriation permit program addresses water withdrawal requirements in the Compact. In Minnesota, permits are required for water uses of 10,000 gallons or more per day and 1 million gallons or more per year - a lower threshold than that in the Compact.
  • Annually, Minnesota submits a Water Conservation and Efficiency Program Assessment Report . These and other states' program reports are available online.
  • Water use data in Minnesota is updated annually and is available online.
  • Section 4.12 of the Compact requires each state to submit a list to the Compact Council of all diversions, consumptive uses and withdrawals of Basin water that existed in each of the states on December 8, 2008. The information submitted established a baseline for determining what is a new or increased diversion, consumptive use or withdrawal of Basin water. Minnesota has established its baseline water use   data for the Great Lakes Basin.
  • Data from water use in Minnesota's portion of the Great Lakes Basin are submitted annually to the Great Lakes Regional Water Use Database  repository.
  • The Compact Council and Regional Body have found that Minnesota's Water Conservation and Efficiency Program and Water Management Program meet or exceed the current requirements of the Agreement and Compact (Joint Declaration of Finding   , December 2015).
  • Minnesota's Water Management Program Report and a summary of Water Conservation and Efficiency Programs were updated and submitted to the Compact Council in November 2014. These and other states' Program Reports   are available online.


  • Jess Richards, Department of Natural Resources Assistant Commissioner, 651-259-5025