About the Authors of the Report
Chapter Four considers the impacts of climate
change on water quality in the Great Lakes basin.
The principal advisor to the IJC, the Water Quality
Priority work on this issue is still in progress. The
Board comprises 20 program managers and adminis-
fundamental questions being explored concern the
trators from the two federal governments, the eight
types of water quality impacts that might be the
states and two provinces in the Great Lakes - St.
consequence of more severe storm events and
Lawrence River basin. The Science Advisory Board,
warmer temperatures, how the impacts might vary
whose 18 members represent a broad range of
across Great Lakes regions, and the implications for
disciplines, provides scientific advice to both the IJC
decision making and planning to respond to or
and Water Quality Board.
mitigate the impacts. The importance of climate
change on ground water resources is particularly
The Council of Great Lakes Research Managers
noted, in light of drought conditions, low precipita-
has 23 members who provide advice related to the
tion and increasing average temperatures. These
coordination and evaluation of Great Lakes research
themes are not often front and center in the minds of
efforts. Given the significance of the air as a pathway
basin residents and are particularly foreboding.
by which contaminants reach the waters of the Great
Lakes, the IJC relies on the 10 members of its Inter-
Chapter Five presents the outcome of an expert
national Air Quality Advisory Board to provide
consultation on emerging issues in the Great Lakes.
advice in this regard.
A compelling, perhaps unanticipated finding, was
that while there are clearly many threats to the health
of the basin ecosystem, no new, previously unknown
About the Process
threats to the Great Lakes were identified by the
scientific experts consulted. This curiously suggests
The IJC establishes priorities for work on a biennial
that existing and anticipated threats may be due to
cycle in consultation with these four advisory boards
our current inability to adequately address ecosystem
and with public input. Upon adoption, the IJC
quality. In this regard, the specific findings and
assigns priorities to its boards or the council, de-
recommendations emphasize the need for greater
pending on the groups mandate and expertise.
binational institutional capacity, reinvigorated
Many priorities provide opportunities for collabora-
management and governance structures to fully
tion between boards. Some priorities are designed
implement an ecosystem approach to the protection
for completion in two years; others are addressed for
and restoration of the lakes, a clear and unmistakable
a longer term.
call for leadership and coordination.
Recognizing the need to secure the views and
Chapters Six, Seven and Eight include additional
opinions of basin residents, the IJC engages in a
reports from the boards and council on a range of
variety of public consultation activities. The informa-
other topics that are brought together to enlighten
tion received from this broad-based consultation
and advise the Commission and the reader. Current
contributes significantly to the insight, advice and
research into the changing dynamics in Lake Erie and
recommendations that the IJC provides to govern-
outbreaks of botulism are described. Health implica-
ments through its biennial reports.
tions of persistent toxic chemicals are reviewed. In
particular, the finding that PCB levels in water and
Finally, no attempt was made to harmonize or
fish of the Great Lakes must decrease by one to three
consolidate the content or recommendations from
orders in magnitude to achieve state and federal
the boards and council, as they represent each
levels for protection of public health is a call for
groups particular advice to the IJC with respect to
action. The latest research and research needs
their charge and obligations.
regarding sources and effects of pathogens and new
chemicals of concern are presented. All these topics
On behalf of the boards and council, we bring you
are highly relevant if our efforts to understand,
this 2001-2003 Priorities Report. In it you will find
protect and enhance the majesty of the Great Lakes
provocative arguments for action now to make the
are to be successful.
Dr. Gail Krantzberg, Director
Great Lakes Regional Office