It is suggested that it may be time for another International
councils, zoning commissions and local permitting
Field Year of the Great Lakes. The last International Field Year
agencies.  At the senior levels of government, the influence
of the Great Lakes happened in 1972.  The “Reference to the
on local urban land-use decisions diminishes. State,
International Joint Commission to Study Pollution in the
provincial, and especially federal governments only have
Great Lakes System from Agriculture, Forestry and other Land
indirect authorities, such as general regulations and
Use Activities” was dated that same year. Both activities were
funding mechanisms, to influence land-use decisions.
very positive for the Great Lakes.  Thirty-one years later, it is
Nevertheless, local efforts to manage urban growth do
time to reassess how far we have come in addressing past
require support, assistance and leadership from senior
issues and to identify measures that protect the Great Lakes
levels of government, for example, in the area of transpor-
from the effects of increasing urbanization.
tation policy.
How then, can the IJC best advise the Parties to send a
Recommendation
message of support and leadership to lower levels of
government in adopting urban land-use policies that will
The SAB recommends the following to the IJC.
help protect the Great Lakes? This question faced the IJC
and the Parties in the early 1970s when it was becoming
Recommend that the Parties undertake a major
clear that agricultural land use was affecting Great Lakes
binational investigation and research effort on the
water quality. The answer then was a reference from the
effects of urban and urbanizing development on
Parties to the IJC on pollution from land-use activities. The
Great Lakes water quality and develop a comprehen-
multi-year study that resulted, commonly called PLUARG,
sive response to these effects.
was the first comprehensive examination of land use in the
Great Lakes basin.
This work should be large-scale and comprehensive like the
PLUARG study done in the 1970s but with an exclusive focus
While the reference included all kinds of land use, the
on urban and urbanizing development in the Great Lakes
study that resulted from it provided information and
basin. It should characterize the scope of the problem, bring
recommendations that had the most influence on agricul-
together information useful in addressing the problem, and
tural land use. Farmers throughout the basin learned from
produce recommendations to be implemented at all levels of
this work. They heard the message and modified the way in
government. The effort should be open to all interested
which they used the land. Today, a large percentage of farm
stakeholders and every effort should be made to make the
land is managed in ways that reduce or prevent soil loss
results widely available and understood. The study should be
(and the associated pollutants) and the resulting sedimen-
built on urban growth management work being implemented
tation of rivers and bays.
at the provincial/state and municipal levels.  The study could
be part of any International Field Year of the Great Lakes
There is again a need to send a message and transmit the
program that might be undertaken.  Some key aspects of the
information needed to address the growing threat to Great
problem that should be addressed in the investigation are:
Lakes water quality posed by urban and urbanizing
a projection of expected urban growth in the next 50
development. Much of the information needed to address
years throughout the Great Lakes basin;
this threat already exists, as discussed above. It may well be
the relationship between the quantity of impervious
that another PLUARG-style study will be needed to help
cover in different urban forms and effects on water
ensure that the information is heard and understood by
quality;
those involved in urban land use in all jurisdictions
the relationship between vehicular emissions generated
throughout the Great Lakes basin.
in different urban forms and effects on water and air
quality;
As in all land-use activities, the decisions that most
an inventory and assessment of innovative programs and
policies, such as full cost pricing, taxes, transportation
influence  urban  land  use  are  made  locally  by
programs, infrastructure upgrades, and tradeable
municipal councils, zoning commissions and local
permits, for the protection of water quality from the
permitting  agencies.    ...  local  efforts  to  manage
impacts of urban and urbanizing areas; and
an examination of sewage treatment infrastructure and
urban growth do require support, assistance and
practices in the Great Lakes basin to assess their adequacy
leadership  from  senior  levels  of  government,  for
to serve future urban population and to treat waste
stream contaminants not anticipated when most such
example, in the area of transportation policy.
systems were designed such as personal care and
pharmaceutical products.
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