Analyses of Great Lakes Regional Poll Data

Detroit, MI

Alterations to Great Lakes land cover, changes in hydrologic patterns in the region, and outdated hydrologic systems have exacerbated the water quality impairments in the Great Lakes. As many of the changes occurring across the Great Lakes basin are driven by human decisions and impacts, it is critical to assess, understand, and incorporate human behavior in the strategic/operational planning to improve water quality in the basin.

Project Scope

  • Public Polling
  • Research & Analyses
  • Online Survey & Analyses
  • Water Quality & Ecosystem Health
  • Indigenous Participatory Research
  • State of Great Lakes Reporting
  • Statistical Analyses of Data

Public opinion polls, if done well, provide a scientifically calibrated point-in-time measure of opinion and attitudes toward issues. The Great Lakes Regional Poll (GLRP) is an excellent barometer to gauge attitudes, beliefs and understanding of the Great Lakes system among the region’s residents and to track temporal changes on important topics relevant to the Great Lakes.

Accordingly, the International Joint Commission (IJC) hired a team that included CIS staff to analyze public opinion from three rounds of GLRP – conducted in 2015, 2018, and 2021 – and an online poll conducted in 2021. Responses to the GLRP questions generally tracked those asked in other public surveys and complement scientific assessments of the Great Lakes published under State of the Great Lakes (SOGL) reports.


As a part of this project, CIS staff identified trends across the three rounds of GLRP, conducted regression analysis of individual responses (including willingness to pay for water quality improvements), and spatially mapped responses to select questions. Based on the analyses, several recommendations were made in the final report. 

These included an emphasis on an inclusive approach that blends western science with Indigenous community-based participatory research to better understand the complexity of the Great Lakes region, and interconnections between the people and the environment.


International Joint Commission
Ontario Ministry of Environment


2022 – 2023