mize water quality and other environmental impacts while
use of buffer strips along watercourses; and
offering a high quality of life.
incentives and flexibility in the form of density compen-
sation, buffer averaging, property tax reduction, storm-
Sending a Message on Urban Land Use
water credits, and by-right open space development to
promote conservation of stream buffers, forests,
Urban and urbanizing development is having a significant
meadows and other areas of environmental value.
effect on Great Lakes water quality.  The trend is toward an
increasing effect. Through technology and policy changes –
These principles speak to the need for closer links between
that affect how cities are designed and new growth is
the land-use planning and approval process, and the water
accommodated – these effects can be mitigated, but only if
resources (or watershed) planning process.
the necessary information is made available and if there is
the public understanding of the issues to inform wise
Full-cost pricing for water and sewerage services
political decisions.
The need for full-cost pricing for water and sewerage
services, identified in the SAB’s 1999-2001 Priorities Report,
The International Joint Commission’s influence on Great
is increasingly urgent.  Without full-cost pricing, municipali-
Lakes water management  has been particularly seminal
ties lack the necessary revenue stream for adequate system
and dramatic at three points in its long  history.  In 1912,
maintenance and replacement, but more importantly shield
the Parties asked the newly-formed IJC to examine and
consumers from the true costs of using and often wasting
report on Great Lakes pollution.  The IJC reported that
water.  Full-cost pricing would encourage more compact
pollution in the basin was “everywhere chaotic,” prompt-
development with shorter sewer runs and a more concen-
ing the Parties to begin discussions on binational
trated, more effective treated municipal sewage stream.
pollution abatement measures.  In 1946, again at the
request of the Parties, the IJC considered the problem of
The Need for Improved Research, Monitoring and Data
pollution in the connecting channels.  Noting that
sewage treatment had not kept pace with population
growth in the basin, the 1950 report on this reference
Throughout these discussions, it became apparent that a
points to injury to human health and property, indeed
lack of adequate monitoring data hampers the development
“major concern,” with respect to pollution with bacteria,
of effective policy and the enforcement of existing rules.
phenols, oil, iron, phosphorus, chloride, and other
Particular gaps included:
problems.   The IJC’s influence in this situation was one
of the driving forces leading to the establishment of
the lack of a systematic and integrated remote sensing
standards of practice for sewage treatment in the basin.
system, which could be used to develop estimates of
Finally, in 1972, shortly after the signing of the first Great
existing impervious cover and land use and to track
Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the Parties asked the IJC
changes over time;
to investigate pollution from land-use activities.  Six years
the lack of adequate data on vehicular emissions of air
and hundreds of research reports later, the Pollution
pollutants, which in turn may become important
from Land Use Activities Reference Group (PLUARG)
sources of pollution to watercourses.  There is a need
produced  a body of work that continues to influence the
for targeted studies to evaluate the relative contribu-
management of diffuse pollution sources today.  As with
tions of different vehicle types, such as passenger cars,
so many of the IJC’s activities, the importance of PLUARG
SUVs, and small and heavy trucks;
lay not only with its technical contribution, but also in its
the lack of adequate data, and in some cases adequate
demonstration of how governments and other organiza-
detection methods, for “new” contaminants resulting
tions could work together to  improve environmental
from personal care, prescription drugs and other
conditions in the basin.  In each of these cases, the IJC
products for which there is preliminary evidence of
has been uniquely positioned to provide both a bina-
important consequences;
tional perspective on complex pollution problems, and a
the lack of data on the relationship between water
binational forum for the development of practical
quality and different urban forms over watershed areas.
solutions.  Its influence is apparent  throughout the basin
today, in municipal sewage treatment standards, agricul-
While the workgroup effort was able to better understand
tural practice and binational cooperation on every aspect
water quality impacts  from different water treatment
of Great  Lakes management.
systems associated with urbanization, there was inadequate
data and resources to examine how different urban develop-
ment forms impact water quality.  Given current demo-
As in all land-use activities, the decisions that most influ-
graphic trends, it is critical to understand how we can
ence urban land use are made locally by municipal
accommodate population growth in a way that can mini-