The International Joint Commission (IJC) has released summary reports from its public meetings in Milwaukee and Toronto on the health of Lakes Ontario and Michigan.

The Toronto forum covered:

  • Waterfront restoration,
  • Toronto Area of Concern and Remedial Action Plan,
  • wastewater treatment,
  • toxic substances,
  • fish habitat,
  • and a variety of other issues.

Stakeholders in these areas provided assessments of the health and trends in lakes Ontario and Michigan.

The Michigan forum focused on:

  • Green infrastructure and Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District’s 2035 vision,
  • water centric cities initiative,
  • citizen-based monitoring and its importance for water quality,
  • nutrients and aquatic invasive species,
  • and Great Lakes implications from Shifting Currents, the 2016 Waters of Wisconsin Report.

A video from the IJC Toronto Forum is available through the link.

Major issues that were addressed across all presentations in Toronto and Milwaukee were:

  • The need for more and enhanced public engagement by governments;
  • Greater involvement of indigenous communities;
  • Improved funding, coordination, and regulations for integrated watershed management;
  • An expedited, improved process to identify, monitor, and implement regulations and action plans for chemicals of mutual concern;
  • The need to consider radionuclides and radioactive nuclear waste from the energy production as a chemical of mutual concern, and take action to prevent their storage in the Great Lakes basin;
  • A lack of specifics in governments’ progress report on timeframes, locations for actions, and implementation funding for nutrient management;
  •  And the need to develop adaptation actions as a result of climate change.

The forums conveyed a sense that there has been progress in improving the health of the Great Lakes since 1989 when bi-national efforts were implemented to improve their health. However, clear gaps and challenges remain in the protection of the Great Lakes that urgently need to be addressed.

The full IJC reports are available at the links below. Also listed is the most recent IJC newsletter, which provides links to articles related to some of the issue discussed in the public forums.

Toronto Summary:

Milwaukee Summary: 

IJC Newsletter:



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