INTRODUCTION
I
Chapter Two provides specific advice to the Commis-
n the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the
sion on aspects of Annex 2 — Remedial Action Plans
United States and Canada commit “to restore and
(RAPs) in particular. It explores the question of how
maintain the chemical, physical, and biological
to accelerate RAP implementation and consequently,
integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes Basin
the restoration of beneficial uses. To paraphrase
Ecosystem.”
some of the analyses, when we set out on a voyage,
we have a choice.  We can follow impulse and
A fundamental role of the International Joint Com-
spontaneity, or we can take a map that leads us to a
mission (IJC) is to evaluate the governments’
particular destination.  The map is akin to the
progress in implementing the Great Lakes Water
Remedial Action Plan, and it must contain coordi-
Quality Agreement, identify unmet challenges, and
nates for the destination.  To answer the question,
recommend solutions.  The IJC provides a report at
“Where is There?” RAP participants need information
least every two years that presents its findings, advice
that will enable them to recognize when the Area of
and recommendations to governments.
Concern achieves the goals and uses formulated by
the community.  Rehabilitation targets, referred to as
From 2001-2003, several IJC advisory boards and
delisting criteria or endpoints are essentially the
council have focused on a discrete set of high
coordinates for the destination.  These targets
priorities assigned to them by the Commissioners.
enabled the team to prioritize actions and to inter-
The results of two years of intensive work are pre-
pret the road signs that direct progress toward the
sented herein to the Commission, for their consider-
restoration of beneficial uses.   Specific advise
ation as they develop advice to governments and
contained here, on the design and execution of RAPs
report to the public through their Twelfth Biennial
should illuminate all readers, particularly those
Report on Great Lakes Water Quality.
associated with an Area of Concern.
This Priorities Report conveys a wealth of informa-
Chapter Three tackles urbanization and the complex
tion and state-of-the-art analyses of select research,
land use-water quality linkages.  The 1997-99 Priori-
scientific and policy arenas that are fundamental for
ties Report noted that “Urbanization in particular has
advancing stewardship of the Great Lakes basin
brought significant changes to natural systems,
ecosystem.
particularly in increased land surface impervious-
ness.” These issues were revisited in the 1999-01
Chapter One begins with a discussion of science
Priorities Report and are further probed here.
substantiating that toxic chemicals cause harm to
Urbanization not only threatens Great Lakes water
both mental and reproductive function in fetuses
quality by pollutants in waste water discharges, but
and adults.  The IJC was among the first of the
also degrades surface water through excessive
international organizations to focus on the presence,
stormwater flows. Beach closings and impaired
transport and effects of persistent toxic substances in
recreational water quality result.  Urban sprawl can
the environment.  In this priority cycle, the
destroy wetlands.  Subdivisions fragment habitat.
Commission’s request that its boards focus on
Our increased use of vehicles pollutes the air, the
mercury has proved most timely, as large reductions
land and the water. Increases in impervious surfaces
in emissions from coal fired utilities are now under
associated with highways, buildings and parking lots
consideration in both the United States and Canada.
increase runoff, exacerbating nonpoint source
Herein you will find the most current science sur-
pollution in our rivers and waterfronts. This chapter
rounding mercury, compelling evidence of its
explores water quality impacts and policy implica-
neurotoxic properties, and an exposé on the risks
tions surrounding the reality of growth and the
associated with consumption of contaminated fish.
necessity to preserve the quality of life.   In this
To guide the formulation of programs and policies
chapter you will find intriguing examples of innova-
that could reduce the inputs of mercury to the basin
tive principles to guide policy development and
ecosystem, the complex atmospheric dynamics of
implementation.
mercury are treated in detail here as well.
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