LRP - Licenses

LRP - Regulations

LRP - Permits

Recreation - Statewide

Recreation - Trapping

Recreation - Fishing

Recreation - Hunting

Env. Protection - Management

Env. Protection - Emergency

Env. Protection - Resources

To sign up for updates or to access your subscriber preferences, please enter your contact information below.

about Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and their watersheds.
Wisconsin´s Great Lakes from invasive species and pollution.
critical Great Lakes habitat and lakeshore value.
your Great Lakes photos and writings.

Great Lakes Compact

The Great Lakes Compact is a formal agreement between the Great Lakes states. A parallel agreement includes the two Canadian provinces that border the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway. In these agreements, the states and provinces agree to manage the water in the Great Lakes watershed collectively. The agreements also ban Great Lakes water from being "diverted," or piped out of the basin with a few limited and strictly regulated exceptions.



The Great Lakes Compact became effective on December 8, 2008 after final consent from the U.S. Congress [PDF]. This date began the ban on diversions of water out of the basin. It also starts the five year clock for each of the Great Lakes states to develop a water management program with the elements required by the compact. Wisconsin passed implementing legislation [PDF exit DNR] for the compact in 2008 and will have its required management program fully in place by the end of 2011.

Two regional organizations oversee the implementation of the compact and the parallel agreement with the provinces.



Compact effective – December 8, 2008

The Great Lakes Compact becomes effective in the eight Great Lake states. This date starts the five year clock for states to implement their water management programs. It also begins the ban on diversion of water out of the Great Lakes Basin.

Submit grandfathered water use – December 8, 2009

The states are required to submit their "baselines" to the Compact Council. Part of the compact allows existing users to grandfather their current water use as of December 8, 2008. This grandfathering occurs by defining a "baseline" for each water user. State water management programs will then apply to new users or increases in water use over this grandfathered "baseline" amount.

Registration and reporting – December 2010

Wisconsin’s implementing legislation calls for statewide registration of all water uses – groundwater and surface water – and annual reporting of the amount withdrawn. The requirement to register and report water use is dependant on how much is actually withdrawn. Online registration will be available by 2011.

State water use permits issued – December 8, 2011

General and individual permits will be issued to all water users in the Great Lakes Basin. These permits will establish the amount of water the user can withdraw, the requirements for water conservation and the requirements for monitoring and reporting that water use.

Statewide water use report – June 2016

Wisconsin’s compact implementing legislation calls for a statewide water use report to identify trends in water use by subbasin, potential areas with water supply problems and options for sustainability. This report is first due in 2016 and every five years after that.

Water supply service area plan – December 2025

Wisconsin’s compact implementing legislation calls for all communities with populations over 10,000 to have an approved water supply service area plan by the end of 2025.



For questions related to Wisconsin's implementation of the Great Lakes Compact, including questions on rule drafts, registration and reporting, water conservation and efficiency and diversion applications, contact:

Adam Freihoefer
Drinking Water & Groundwater Program
Water use section chief

For questions related to Wisconsin's participation in the Great Lakes Basin Regional Implementation of the Great Lakes Compact, contact:

Shaili Pfeiffer
Drinking Water & Groundwater Program
Water use section

Additional information

Additional information

Last revised: Wednesday October 04 2017