The International Joint Commission (IJC) has released its draft Triennial Assessment of Progress (TAP) report, in which it found much to commend on the progress of Canada and the US in meeting the objectives of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA).
The report points to the successful meeting of deadlines on developing priorities for science and action, proposing a nearshore framework, and setting targets for Lake Erie phosphorus reduction. And the report stated, “Achievements realized in the past three years reflect robust binational public and governmental support and continuing investments in cleaning up past pollution and preventing new damages to the Great Lakes.”
The goal of the report is to address two prevailing questions in managing the trans-boundary waters of the Great Lakes:
- Are the Canadian and US governments progressing towards the objectives of the 2012 revision of the GLWQA?
- And what can the IJC give to the governments to help them better meet those objectives?
Under that mandate, the report reviewed the accelerated restoration of contamination Areas of Concern and no new introductions of aquatic invasive species, which were successful under the guidance of the GLWQA. Despite that, these areas require continued vigilance as pressures increase on those areas due to climate change and globalization. Areas of challenge for the two governments remain, including around the decline of water quality in Lake Erie, the slow pace in addressing chemicals of mutual concern, and the continued spread of previously introduced invasive species.
Equally urgent, the governments have “not demonstrated sufficient progress toward the achievement of the human health objectives in their implementation of the GLWQA. Greater binational focus on the achievement of drinkability, swimmability and fishability objectives is needed.”
The draft report is open for public comment for three months. Comments on the IJC’s draft TAP report as well as on the two countries’ progress report are being sought until April 15, 2017, via email, ParticipateIJC@ottawa.ijc.org, and online, ParticipateIJC.org.
Public meetings also will be held at the following locations:
- March 2, 2017: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
- March 21, 2017: Detroit, Michigan and Toledo, Ohio
- March 22, 2017: Sarnia, Ontario
- March 28, 2017: Buffalo, New York
- March 29, 2017: St. Catharines, Ontario