International Joint Commission
2003 Great Lakes Conference and Biennial Meeting
"Restoring the Greatness"
Saturday, September 20, 2003
Transcripts of Program
GALE GOVAERE (Office of Senator Carl Levin): Good morning ladies and gentlemen. It's my pleasure to be here on behalf of Senator Levin and join with you in this dialogue of "Restoring the Greatness!"
The Great Lakes have always been important to Senator Levin. One of his favorite stories about how we can all make a difference on the Great Lakes comes from his days as a member of the Detroit City Council. The Council was trying to address the high level of phosphates in the lakes, and they passed a ban on phosphates in laundry detergents. No one thought that the City Council could make a change, but that phosphate ban became a state issue and then a national issue. So Senator Levin truly believes that we can make a difference.
Back in July, Senator Levin joined Senator DeWine, Representative Emanuel, and many other members from the Great Lakes delegation, and introduced legislation to further Great Lakes restoration. While the House and the Senate bills are a little different, they both share the same goal: improvement, protection, and restoration of the Great Lakes.
The Great Lakes Environmental Restoration Act, also known as S. 1398 has three primary objectives: the establishment of Great Lake Environmental Restoration Grants, the creation of a Great Lakes Federal Coordinating Council, and required coordination of Great Lakes monitoring.
If passed, the Act would authorize $ 600 million annually for 10 years ($6 billion total) for new Great Lakes grants to States, municipalities and other applicants. It requires grants to address designated priority areas and result in tangible improvements to the Great Lakes. Initial priority areas are: (A) contaminated sediment cleanup; (B) wetlands restoration; (C) invasive species control and prevention; (D) coastal wildlife and fisheries habitat improvements; (E) public access improvements; (F) water quality improvements; (G) sustainable water use; and (H) non-point source pollution reduction. There must also be 1 project in each Great Lakes state each year, with each state entitled to a minimum of 6% and a maximum of 30% of the total available funding. The EPA's Great Lakes National Program Office is to administer the grant program in coordination with the Great Lakes Advisory Board, which would be comprised of Great Lakes governors, mayors, federal agencies, Native American tribes, environmentalists, industry representatives, and Canadian observers. Board duties would include designating annual priority areas for grants, evaluating and ranking the grant proposals, and advising the Program Office on which grant proposals should be funded.
A Great Lakes Federal Coordinating Council would be established to strengthen coordination of federal Great Lakes activities. The Council head would be the Great Lakes National Program Office Director, and participants would include the key federal agencies involved in Great Lakes work such as NOAA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Fish and Wildlife Service. The Council would meet at least 3 times per year to ensure that the efforts of federal agencies concerning environmental restoration and protection of the Great Lakes are coordinated, effective, complementary, and cost-efficient.
The third goal of this legislation is to provide for coordinated Great Lakes Monitoring. The Restoration Act directs the Great Lakes National Program Office to develop, in coordination with other federal agencies and Canada, indicators of water quality and related environmental factors in the Great Lakes and a network to monitor those indicators regularly throughout the Great Lakes basin. It would also requires the Program Office to generate initial benchmark data within four years and that biennial reports on Great Lakes water quality be submitted to Congress two years later.
There has been a great deal of support from the region from environmental groups, mayors, and individuals. We are hopeful that we will hear support from the regional governors.
At this point, the legislation has been referred to the Environment and Public Works Committee for consideration. The House and Senate sponsors of restoration legislation are hoping that groups and individuals committed to Great Lakes protection will provide comments.
This bill is intended to be in addition to existing programs and would bring all of the stakeholders together to make decisions about how to spend the funds. As we work on the Great Lakes Environmental Restoration Act, Senator Levin will still be pushing on other Great Lakes fronts such as his invasive species legislation, monitoring legislation, and funding for needed programs like the Great Lakes Legacy Act.
BRIAN MORMINO (Office of Senator George V. Voinovich): Good morning. It is a pleasure to be here today, and I thank the IJC for giving me an opportunity to speak.
It was somewhat of a challenge to get here for this meeting directly after Hurricane Isabel swept over the Washington area. In fact, the airport was closed, and it looked like I wasn't going to be able to make it.
However, I knew that I had to come because Senator Voinovich would ask me on Monday how the meeting was and I would have to tell him that I did not attend. I didn't think he would like this very much, especially since he has been fighting what he calls the Second Battle of Lake Erie and working to restore and protect all of the Great Lakes for over 37 years as State Legislator, County Commissioner, Lieutenant Governor, Mayor of Cleveland, Governor of Ohio, and now United States Senator. So, here I am.
Before I touch on restoration, I want to update you on a few key issues. First, and as many of you may know, Senator Voinovich authorized in WRDA 2000 the Great Lakes Fishery Ecosystem and Restoration Program. The support plan for the program is currently being completed, and I am pleased to announce that Senator Voinovich was able to attach an amendment to the FY2004 Energy and Water Appropriations bill to set aside $1 million to fund the Program's first projects. These projects could include restoring fish spawning areas and battling invasive species.
Second, Senator Voinovich and Representative Vern Ehlers together introduced bills to address hypoxia and harmful algal blooms in the Great Lakes. A 1998 Act, which recently expired, only authorized research for our coastal marine waters and the Gulf of Mexico. However, as we all know, this is also a problem in the Great Lakes, especially with the reoccurrence of dead zones in Lake Erie, which Senator Voinovich investigated during a field hearing in August 2002. I am pleased to announce that we worked closely with the Commerce Committee and Senator Voinovich's Great Lakes provisions were included in a bill that was recently passed by the Committee. The House version passed the Science Committee and is now awaiting action by the Resources Committee. We are working to have this bill signed into law early next year.
Third, invasive species are clearly one of this vital ecosystem's biggest problems. There is some good news though. Before I left Washington, I was informed that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in response to a letter that Senator Voinovich and several other Members wrote, will be looking into listing the Bighead Carp as an injurious species. This designation would prohibit this species that we are desperately trying to keep out of the Great Lakes from being imported into the country and shipped across state lines.
On the legislative side, the Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing due to Senator Voinovich's personal request on the National Aquatic Invasive Species Act, which he has cosponsored. I am working on a weekly basis with EPW Chairman James Inhofe's staff to get this bill passed through the Committee. I know that it is stalled in the House because the legislation falls under multiple committees' jurisdiction, but hopefully, we can get it through the EPW Committee early next year and then get the House to act.
Lastly but most importantly, I come to restoration. Senator Voinovich has identified two main issues - coordination and a comprehensive plan - and he is committed to working on both. We have tremendous leadership to address both of these areas with Senators Mike DeWine and Carl Levin as the chairs of the Great Lakes Task Force. Additionally, we all know that if we are going to get something done on restoring the Great Lakes, then it must go through the EPW Committee and fortunately we have Senator Voinovich as a member. As Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, Senator Voinovich had a large role in developing the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, but he wants the Great Lakes to be his legacy.
After the General Accounting Office outlined the current problems in our efforts to restore and protect the Great Lakes, Senator Voinovich held two hearings on this matter, wrote to the Governors urging their leadership, and cosponsored the restoration bill introduced by Senators DeWine and Levin. The bill's $6 billion price tag has made some senators quite nervous, specifically EPW Chairman Inhofe who is strongly against the Everglades and poses a hurdle to this bill's passage.
Before I conclude, I want to talk about the groups and people - many of whom are in this room - that are involved and interested in restoring the Great Lakes. I work on several issues besides the Great Lakes and in every instance it seems that everyone is constantly budding heads. But the Great Lakes are different, and we must take advantage of this great opportunity. So many of us have put aside our differences on other issues to come together for the Great Lakes, and I think there is a tremendous amount of momentum building. You can even feel it in this room.
Senator Voinovich is committed to bringing all of the public and private players in the U.S. and Canada together. There are just two main questions on how to restore this nation's greatest natural resource. First, who or what should be the orchestra leader - the Great Lakes National Program Office, a coordinating council, some international body? Second, how can we put together a comprehensive restoration plan - a piece of legislation, WRDA, administratively?
I don't know the answers to these questions. I do know that there is a lot going on. I do know that there is broad support to get something done. I do know that is must be binational. I do know that it will have to go through the EPW Committee and that Senator Voinovich is committed to getting it done. Lastly, I do know that Senator Voinovich strongly believes in his heart that we can take action soon to comprehensively restore and protect the Great Lakes and we want to hear from and work with everyone in this room to get this done. Thank you.
THOMAS SKINNER (Regional Administrator, U.S. EPA Region 5): Good Morning. I am Tom Skinner, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Region 5 Administrator and the National Program Manager for the Great Lakes. I am pleased to be here today. The Great Lakes are the largest freshwater system in the world and they are the centerpiece of this Region's natural resources. The Great Lakes drive the economy of our two great Nations, eight U.S. States and two Canadian Provinces.
I am here today to speak about the Great Lakes Strategy 2002 and will talk about what the highest priority U.S. actions are for cleaning up and restoring the Great Lakes. Over the past few years, the U.S. and Canada, with your help, has built a sound structure for achieving a collective vision of comprehensive ecosystem management for the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement with its overarching commitment to "restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Great Lakes Basin ecosystem" is as appropriate today as when it originally was put in the Agreement.
The Great Lakes Region is both environmentally and institutionally complex. Working together, the Great Lakes partners in the U.S. and in Canada have found innovative solutions to such problems as cleaning up contaminated sediments, reducing persistent, bioaccumulative chemicals, and are trying to stem the tide of invasive species. We are leaders with respect to designing solutions for sustainability of Great Lakes water as a resource. Our research institutions are world class. Our non-governmental partners are some of the most dedicated in the world.
There is an urgency now, and more needs to be done. We know that:
- Invasive species in the Great Lakes, now in excess of 160, are causing serious economic and ecosystem health impacts. It's virtually certain more invasive species will enter the system in future years.
- Toxic contamination is high enough to trigger more than 1,500 fish advisories in the Great Lakes. Cleaning up contaminated sediments and addressing inputs of toxic chemicals to the lakes are key to solving this problem.
- Record numbers of beach closings have occurred in the Great Lakes in recent years, signaling the need for greater efforts to be directed at non point source programs and sewage treatment infrastructure needs.
- A "dead zone" of water lacking oxygen has appeared in Lake Erie, impacting aquatic life, and indicating the health of the lake may be compromised.
To address the these challenges, there was a need to develop a strategic plan for the Great Lakes so that governmental partners on the U.S. side of the basin could work towards shared goals and align programs and resources toward common priorities. Great Lakes Strategy 2002 is very important in that it also supports implementation of the Agreement and advances actions in a way that will help us meet the Agreement's intent and goals.
After over two years of coordinative work, the Great Lakes Strategy 2002 was released in April of 2002 by former Administrator Whitman in Muskegon, Michigan, on behalf of the U.S. Policy Committee. The Policy Committee concentrates on basin wide activities on the U.S. side of the border, and on formulating and representing U.S. views in binational fora, such as the Binational Executive Committee and with the International Joint Commission (IJC).
The Policy Committee is comprised of senior level managers from various Federal, State and Tribal agencies. It uses collaborative methods of operation, and it has bi-annual meetings to track progress and coordinate programs and priorities for Great Lakes basin issues.
The Strategy was developed with important stakeholder input. Public meetings were held across the basin in Duluth, Detroit, Chicago, and Niagara Falls, and over 2,000 comments from the public were considered in the development of the Strategy.
We heard a strong, collective voice advocating for a cleaner Great Lakes where we could eat the fish, drink the water, and swim at the beaches. Everyone wants the Great Lakes to be a healthy place for people and wildlife. Simple, but profound messages. We heard this resoundingly, and made these the centerpiece for the vision of our plan.
The plan is groundbreaking in that it includes major objectives that are measurable and time phased. It includes over 120 supporting key actions that need to be carried out by the various partners to the plan. Ten federal agencies, eight Great Lakes States, and tribal authorities assisted in its development through a consensus based process undertaken by the Policy Committee.
We are now in the process of implementing the strategy and tracking progress. Some of the key goals in the strategy are:
- By 2005, clean-up and delist 3 Areas of Concern, with a cumulative total of 10 by 2010.
- By 2007, reduce concentrations of PCBs in lake trout and walleye by 25%.
- By 2007, establish 300,000 acres of buffer strips in agricultural lands.
- By 2010, 90% of Great Lakes beaches will be open 95% of the season.
- By 2010, restore or enhance 100,000 acres of wetlands in the Basin.
- By 2010, substantially reduce the further introduction of invasive species, both aquatic and terrestrial, to the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem.
- Accelerate the pace of sediment remediation, leading to the clean-up of all sites by 2025.
The U.S. Policy Committee is actively overseeing implementation of the Great Lakes Strategy 2002 and we will have further reports on progress early next year.
There are several other efforts I would like to talk about that are binational in scope and will help to further our strategic efforts. I understand you had an excellent session on Thursday discussing some of these important programs. I would like to provide a few highlights because they are important for achieving the clean up and protection of the Great Lakes.
The Great Lakes Strategy works along with Lakewide Management Plans and Remedial Action Plans, which form a complementary framework for current and future efforts.
A comprehensive management plan, or LaMP, has been developed for each Lake, outlining goals and actions needed to protect and restore beneficial uses. These plans serve to bring together key partners and to identify multi-agency actions, resources, and programs that are needed to protect and restore the lakes. They are developed with much stakeholder involvement, and we are working closely with the States, other federal agency partners, and tribal authorities in their implementation.
We now have plans for each of the Great Lakes that were initially issued in 2000 and will be updated every two years. These will be used as a blueprint to manage our efforts to improve the conditions of each of the Lakes, which need specifically tailored actions directed at solving each Lake's most significant environmental problems.
Another program I would like to highlight is the Remedial Action Plan, or "RAP" program for Areas of Concern (AOC). EPA has made many changes in the management of this program recently, and one such effort was the development of a delisting principles and guidance document published by EPA, under the auspices of the Policy Committee in December 2001. This is assisting the Areas of Concern in developing measurable, locally-driven goals that will aid in delisting these sites. Already one U.S. AOC, Presque Isle Bay in Pennsylvania, has been identified as an Area of Recovery, and others are moving towards delisting in the future. We are providing not only leadership but technical assistance for this program.
The newly-passed Great Lakes Legacy Act will help advance the clean up of contaminated sediments in the AOC's, moving them even closer to final clean up. EPA is aggressively moving forward to implement the Legacy Act and has already held 30 briefings with numerous partners to discuss implementation. We are taking strong steps to accelerate the pace of sediment clean-ups in the Great Lakes basin.
We are also increasing our knowledge base and developing strong scientific underpinnings for the decisions we make to improve our ability to assess environmental progress and conditions for the Great Lakes. The State of the Lakes Ecosystem Program, also known as "SOLEC" was created under the auspices of the Binational Executive Committee. The concept of a biennial State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference (SOLEC) to report on the condition of the Great Lakes ecosystem, was created by the BEC to fulfill, in part, the GLWQA requirements for assessing and reporting progress toward the goals and objectives of the Agreement.
SOLEC is science-based, and is a collaborative effort between the U.S. and Canada, and between federal, State, Tribal, provincial and local government agencies, environmental groups, industry and the public.
Four objectives were established for SOLEC: to assess the state of the Great Lakes ecosystem based on accepted indicators; to strengthen decision making and environmental management; to inform local decision makers of Great Lakes environmental issues; and to provide a forum for communication and networking among all stakeholders. The primary audience includes environmental managers and decision makers, but the information needed by senior administrators and the public is also considered. Four SOLEC reports have been issued since l995, and the 2003 SOLEC report was released last month.
Over 800 indicators were initially reviewed by over 130 scientists and other participants, and a suite of 80 indicators has been identified as necessary to assess the health of the Great Lakes. We are in the process of prioritizing these 80 indicators, identifying the most critical for decision-making and reporting. These indicators are being used to inform and strengthen our monitoring programs which are the foundation of our science based assessments.
In conclusion, Great Lakes Strategy 2002, along with Lakewide Management Plans and Remedial Action Plans, as well as our indicators work, form the basis of a comprehensive restoration strategy for the Great Lakes. All of these support implementation of the Agreement, and will help us to achieve a cleaner and healthier Great Lakes ecosystem.
It is important for all of the partners to work together at the Binational, National, State, and local levels to ensure the Great Lakes Community is working together to implement the highest priority actions that will result in the greatest environmental improvements. The Great Lakes community has done a lot of planning over the past few years and now it is up to all of us to implement these.
Then we will truly see the greatness restored to this magnificent resource. I thank you for your help in protecting the Great Lakes and invite you to continue working towards "restoring the greatness". Thank you.
JOHN MILLS (Environment Canada): Environment Canada is charged with ensuring that the Government of Canada meets its commitments under the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
That charge is fulfilled through a highly-partnered, horizontal program that incorporates the actions of the government of Canada, joint Canada-Ontario activities, and activities undertaken in coordination and cooperation with U.S. agencies.
In Canada, efforts of the governments of Canada and Ontario to meet the requirements under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement are coordinated through the Canada-Ontario Agreement. That agreement was last renewed in 2002 and will continue to guide federal and provincial actions in the Great Lakes basin through to 2007.
COA sets out specific goals, target results, and an extensive list of activities to be completed by the eight federal departments and three provincial ministries that are party to that agreement.
In relationship to Areas of Concern, COA sets out goals of restoring beneficial uses in at least two more Areas of Concern, completing all of the required actions in at least six and making progress for rehabilitation of ecological systems in the remaining AOCs.
The COA Lakewide Management Annex also sets out three goals aimed at demonstrating progress toward establishing collaborative planning and decision-making.
In relation to the harmful pollutants, Canada and Ontario will continue their commitment to virtual elimination of the persistent bio-accumulative toxic substances and significant reduction of other harmful pollutants.
Finally, the Annex on Monitoring and Information sets goals that will ensure that the governments, organizations, and basin residents have access to accurate information regarding trends in environmental quality.
As part of the ongoing commitment, the province of Ontario has secured an additional $50 million to support the COA objectives over the five-year period of COA, and significant progress is expected to be made during the next phase of restoring AOCs that will be reported on, again, at the end of the COA timeframe.
In addition, as part of the Budget 2000, the government of Canada announced an additional $40 million over five years set for those targets.
That brings me to the future. COA is focused on achieving the vision and meeting the commitments of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The current Canada-Ontario Agreement is the fifth such agreement between Canada and Ontario and will guide the government's actions through to 2007.
There is every expectation that the governments of Canada and Ontario will sign the sixth COA in 2007 to guide future actions. The question for us is what vision should guide that COA? Is the current vision, the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement?
The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement has served us well, but there have been many changes in the basin and in approaches to ecosystem management and science since it was last reviewed.
The issues that now confront us are vastly different from those that we faced in 1972, when the agreement was first signed. We have gone from a focus on phosphorus and point-source reductions to addressing non-point-sources, long-range transport, alien species, and the interaction of these stresses have on the health of the system.
We also recognize that ecosystem stresses, such as climate change, population growth, urban sprawl, industrial and agricultural development, invasive species, and habitat destruction, have potential to reverse some of the gains that we've made.
As we make progress and begin to shift our focus more and more toward lake and basin-wide management issues, success will rely on our ability to mobilize a variety of interests around a new shared binational vision for the future.
We are thinking now we will mobilize support and resources not just from government, but from all sectors and citizens within the basin; how we integrate decision-making to ensure a balance of interests; how we integrate not just environmental considerations, but social and economic factors as well; how we can create and use the shared vision to drive actions and commitments; and what government structures will be required to manage that progress.
Additionally, I think how we build that vision will be as important as what the vision is. Building that vision will have to be an equal partnership amongst both nations and the Great Lakes community. It cannot be seen to be a vision of one party or one interest or another.
The process of building that vision must respect the government structures already in place in both countries and build upon existing mechanisms of engagement.
Above all, we need to ensure that the vision for the Great Lakes is shared by all of the stakeholders in the basin, that governments, non-government organizations, citizens, all see themselves in that vision and support and engage in that vision.
In the end, whatever vision, whatever shape, it must be seen and shared binationally. We can't have two nations sharing the Great Lakes working toward different ends.
We have demonstrated in the past that we don't need identical programs, but we do need a common vision, an agreement on how we'll measure progress toward that and then hold each other accountable for that.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, and I look forward to our continued dialogue on this very important issue to maintain this treasured resource for not only this generation, but future generation. Thank you very much.
TIM SKUBICK (Moderator): Thank you, Mr. Mills. (APPLAUSE) All right, at this juncture, who's got a question for either Mr. Skinner or Mr. Mills? From the audience, somebody? If you don't, I do, okay. Last chance?
All right, Mr. Skinner, what are you most proud of that the EPA has done so far that you just go home and think, wow, this is absolutely great? What would that be, Sir?
THOMAS SKINNER (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency): I think it's hard... it's hard to choose one thing. The Great Lakes strategy is an incredible accomplishment, and the more you get into Great Lakes issues, the more you understand about the number of Great Lakes organizations that are out there, the more incredible the accomplishment is.
TIM SKUBICK: Well, isn't that the point? Don't we have just too darn many groups trying to mess around with our lakes?
THOMAS SKINNER: Yes. (LAUGHS)
TIM SKUBICK: What's the optimum number, Sir?
THOMAS SKINNER: I don't know what the…the optimum…you know, I forget who it was I was having this discussion with the other day, the sort of relative advantage of democracy versus dictatorship.
The optimum…the optimum number is probably one, if you really want to get something done and want to get it done quickly. But realistically, we live in a democracy, there's not going to be one organization.
There are a great number of interests, some of which are duplicative, some of which are unique, are individual. So I think we have to recognize the reality that there are folks across the basin, across the country, across our two countries, that are interested in Great Lakes issues.
These groups, and I include GLNPO and EPA in that list, these groups are going to be there one way or the other. We need to find a way to work together toward the goals, and I think the strategy does that.
TIM SKUBICK: All right, well, you aren't advocating a dictatorship, but let me try to move you there. Would you favour a Great Lakes czar?
THOMAS SKINNER: A Great Lakes…I'm sorry?
TIM SKUBICK: Czar.
THOMAS SKINNER: Yeah, a Great Lakes czar. Sure, we could do that.
TIM SKUBICK: Would you like to be that czar?
THOMAS SKINNER: Not on your life, no. (LAUGHS)
TIM SKUBICK: And what have you got against czarships?
THOMAS SKINNER: If I'm going to be a czar, there are other things I'd rather be czar of. (LAUGHS)
TIM SKUBICK: I'm not going to go there, no.
THOMAS SKINNER: Even czars can't herd cats, Tim, and that's part of the problem.
TIM SKUBICK: All right, we have a question here from this gentleman. Your name and your organization, please, and don't take my microphone.
ZIGGY KLEINAU (Canada At-Large, Great Lakes United): Ziggy Kleinau, Great Lakes United. I just wanted to correct Mr. Skinner because there are five Great Lakes and only four of them have a lake-wide management plan. Lake Huron is the forgotten lake, so we need to work really hard to get Lake Huron into that five-lake plan.
THOMAS SKINNER: You're absolutely right. In my notes, I have in fact the notation that we have four lake-wide management plans. The Lake Huron initiative is underway and we're moving toward a LaMP for Lake Huron, but you're absolutely right, Sir.
TIM SKUBICK: All right. Now, when you go home, what is the one thing you say to yourself, oh my God, this is an absolute flop?
THOMAS SKINNER: Oh, that's a hard thing to get me to answer, Tim. (LAUGHS)
TIM SKUBICK: We've actually got 'til noon, Tom, take your time.
THOMAS SKINNER: There are days when I go home and tell my kids I'm an absolute flop because I don't feel like I'm in control of my work life or my family life. But I think in terms of the Great Lakes...
TIM SKUBICK: Yeah.
THOMAS SKINNER: ...and issues in the Great Lakes, I don't know that I'd characterize it as a flop, but I think on the invasive species issue, we are behind the 8 ball.
TIM SKUBICK: We're looking at 1 per cent of the ships coming into the Great Lakes. That is just absolutely awful, isn't it? You can't defend that.
THOMAS SKINNER: I'll leave your characterization as what it is, but I think we need to do more. If you talk about a czar and a need for a czar, I think on the invasive species issue, there is a real need for the designation of someone to take control...
TIM SKUBICK: Okay.
THOMAS SKINNER: ...to really confront the issues and to implement measures that are stronger than we have today.
TIM SKUBICK: All right, thank you, Sir. Mr. Mils, raise your right hand, Sir. (LAUGHS) All right. What are you most proud of from the EC standpoint, Sir?
JOHN MILLS: Let me comment... sorry, let me comment on the first questions you asked...
TIM SKUBICK: Sure.
JOHN MILLS: ...and that was the…as Tom, I think there's another perspective on that and I think we should celebrate the diversity that we have in the Great Lakes of both interest and innovation.
The challenge is how do you kind of marshal all of that, that diversity, that innovation, toward…in a common direction?
TIM SKUBICK: But with all due respect, Sir...
JOHN MILLS: I don't think you need a czar to do that, but you certainly do need some... some common understanding, common vision.
TIM SKUBICK: I appreciate that, but haven't we talked this issue to death? That's a simple yes or no. (LAUGHS)
JOHN MILLS: It is not a simple yes or no.
TIM SKUBICK: I know it's not, but I ask them anyway. (LAUGHS)
JOHN MILLS: Yeah, I think the reality that we are still talking about it, this means we're learning.
A number of years ago - let me give you a little bit of a scenario - a number of year ago, when I first took over the job, about 10 or 11 years ago, I had a discussion with a number of scientists and I asked the question, quite bluntly, do we know what's happening in the Great Lakes?
And after a whole bunch of scientific back and forth, the basic answer was generally, yes. I'd ask the question today and the answer is generally, no.
TIM SKUBICK: What happened?
JOHN MILLS: Because we learned what we didn't know ten years ago, and we're only going to do that through interaction, dialogue, investigations. That is part of the human dynamic of trying to live here in the Great Lakes basin.
TIM SKUBICK: What's the one thing that you're least proud of, Sir?
JOHN MILLS: You're not going to get me to answer that question, either. (LAUGHS)
TIM SKUBICK: Yes, I am. (LAUGHS)
JOHN MILLS: That I'm least proud of? I think that there are times when we can make better... move faster and better. And yeah, sometimes we let the ball drop a little faster than we should.
TIM SKUBICK: I noticed in your presentation, you were talking about the year 2007, Mr. Skinner was talking about the year 2010, which is long after he's dead and gone. Shouldn't we be doing stuff within the terms that we have so we have accountability?
JOHN MILLS: Yeah, I think the agreement that I identified does provide that quite explicitly. It identifies not only accountability for governments, it identifies accountabilities for agencies in governments and their commitment to deal on a year-to-year basis within that timeframe, year to year, what they plan to do against the goals that are set out.
TIM SKUBICK: All right, question here, Sir, your group and your name?
MARK RICHARDSON: It's Mark Richardson, Macomb County, Michigan. A question for Mr. Skinner. It certainly seems like the Canadians are progressing faster in cleaning up areas of concern than we are in the United States. Why do you think that is?
TIM SKUBICK: First of all, do you agree with that?
THOMAS SKINNER: Oh, I think the Canadians like to say that they're proceeding faster than we are in the United States. No, the fact of the matter is they are slightly ahead of us in terms of the actual clean-ups. I think... and I can't tell you all the reasons for that.
I can tell you that from a…funding is a critical issue for us on both sides of the border. It's an issue that the senators have attempted to address in the legislation that's been introduced, the Great Lakes Legacy Act.
It will take us a good part of the way toward getting started on the clean-ups of the AOCs, but it's always, when it comes down to it, a question of dollars and cents because that dictates how much you can do and how fast you can do it.
TIM SKUBICK: All right, very good. We're going to move to our next segment now and welcome to the podium Mr. Steve Thorpe, from the International Association from Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Mayors, for a 10-minute presentation. Ladies and gentlemen, Steve Thorpe. (APPLAUSE)
STEVE THORPE (International Association of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Mayors): Well, good morning. I'm here to represent mayors, but perhaps not as well as Mr. Skinner can do, as a mayor.
I am the American coordinator for a regional mayor's organization, I provide staff support to it, but you know, I have a connection with city government.
I am a former city planner, I am currently a vice-chair of the Ann Arbor City Planning Commission, and in some quarters I'm known as neighbourhood enthusiast. I sit on the transit board in town, so you know, I know something about city life and city politics and city government.
But you know, this region is full of cities and it's really where the people are. In the Great Lakes basin, imagine this, a dozen coastal communities, ranging from Toronto and Chicago on the high end to a few smaller places, but just a dozen account for over three-quarters of the entire Great Lakes basin population.
So you know, there is a role for the mayors. In fact, there's a really substantial and significant role for mayors. I will begin this morning by presenting some information on the International Association of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Mayors and then discuss its emerging views on Great Lakes restoration.
It was back in the mid 1980s when representatives of the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, along with my organization, the Great Lakes Commission, conceived the idea of a regional mayors' organization.
It was evident then that state and provincial governments were engaged in Great Lakes policy development along with the two federal governments, but that the local voice was faint.
Residents, of course, made their views known through a spectrum of venues, but local government leadership was not as prominent in the policy process as it could and should be.
In 1987, mayors of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River shoreline communities agreed to organize for the purpose of adding their voice to the regional policy process.
These U.S. and Canadian mayors, who have many water-related problems and opportunities in common, decided that local government needed a place at the policy table.
Their reasoning was that local government, with its close connection to residents and duty of responsiveness, should be more involved in decision-making that would have a direct impact on their communities.
The mayors initially set up an annual conference schedule, with host cities providing staff support. In 1991, a part-time bilingual and binational secretariat was established and a more formal organizational structure, with bylaws and dues, followed.
Actions of the Mayors Association are usually in the form of resolutions adopted at the annual meeting, with appropriate follow-up by staff.
More recently, though, mayors, and in particular board members, have taken the initiative to lobby on behalf of the Association in diverse venues ranging from their home communities to federal and state provincial capitals.
The Mayors Association is cooperating with other organizations, such as the Great Lakes Commission and the Council of Great Lakes Governors, so as to broaden its impact and benefit from information exchange.
For example, the Association is an official observer to the Commission and last year was invited to sit on the Governors' Charter Annex Advisory Group relating to Great Lakes water management.
Our current president, Richard Daley, of Chicago, has also helped by forming another group called the Great Lakes Cities Initiative to add advocacy punch to the collaborative efforts of our shoreline communities. These two organizations are complementary, and together they will accomplish more.
And one of those projects will be to make the next mayors conference the best ever. It will be at the Downtown Mariott in Chicago on July 14, 15, 16, hosted by Mayor Daley and a co-host, Quebec City Mayor Jean-Paul L'Allier.
With any organization made up of elected officials, it is understandable that change would be part of the picture. Cities and mayors come and go. That is, they don't disappear, they leave the organization for whatever reason, and even membership fluctuates from year to year.
It is amazing, though, that of the original six founding cities from 16 years ago, five are still active: Toronto, Quebec City, Montreal, Toledo, and Thunder Bay. Only Duluth, my home town, is not, and I say shame on them for that.
Over the years, the mayors' agenda has been shaped by contemporary events, but long-standing environmental concerns such as inter-basin diversion and invasive species are addressed regularly. Waterfront development and Great Lakes-St. Lawrence transportation are also topics that have become mainstay interests.
Now, with respect to restoration. We have been at it policy-wise since the beginning. Our member communities are large and small, some have commercial port activities and some are recreational boat havens.
Waterfront is a common denominator. The use and management of the world's pre-eminent freshwater resource is a fact of daily life in these communities.
The Mayors Association has always been interested in the practical effect of information, that is information transfer for the policy crowd. Groundtruthing is their middle name.
They want results, such as clean beaches or at least decent procedures for closure. They want good information about water levels that allow their boaters or commercial vessels to operate safely.
They want to know how they can manage their water infrastructure so as to stop the invasive species scourge or at least find ways to cope. They want to know if access to their waterfronts can be protected so all residents can enjoy the amenity.
You get the picture. These leaders are first responders when it comes to water problems and even opportunities. Our record on Great Lakes restoration is good and extensive if you look at resolutions, and even the agendas and speakers at our meetings.
The diversity of topics and points of view is thought-provoking. More specifically, though, let me reference two action items from our 2002 meeting in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec.
First is a resolution. The resolution was sponsored by mayors Daley and Scott King from Gary, Indiana - who, by the way, is also a board member.
The Association's position is that local government should take the lead, but also in cooperation with all levels of government, in developing a Great Lakes-St. Lawrence protection and restoration effort. They were also emphatic that money for implementation is imperative for success.
The other action was really a landmark work product in the Association's history called the Salaberry-de-Valleyfield protocol. The mayors' agreement was the initiative of Mayor Denis Lapointe of Valleyfield.
His vision was a document that expresses clearly ten principles guiding the use and protection of Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence water resources. This statement is grounded in sustainable development, both in policy and practice, as a guiding principle for shoreline communities.
Balance among uses is also an important issue, with management activities conditioned on the water resources' environmental significance, as well as its economic importance.
There is another provision urging full consultation with shoreline communities and mayors' organizations with respect to system water management.
As a package, these ten points essentially present the mayors' current position on advancing our restoration plan. I understand the Valleyfield Protocol is included in the meeting CD, so I do have copies with me if anyone wants to see my afterwards.
Let me observe that the House and Senate restoration bills introduced in July call for local government representation on advisory boards.
The mayors are pleased with this congressional initiative, but without having consulted the mayors, I may venture to guess that they would want the identified mayoral representation to be beefed up a little in light of their stated goal of mayoral leadership for the effort.
One other point I should note. Remember, it's not just our shoreline communities that have a stake in restoration. This is a basin-wide issue.
Our mayor here in Ann Arbor, John Hieftje, is our most environmentally astute and progressive mayor ever, and he acts as a steward of the Great Lakes. After all, the river that runs through here is a Lake Erie tributary. Thank you. (APPLAUSE)
TIM SKUBICK: (inaudible)...much, Steve. Please welcome now to the podium David Naftzger from the Council of Great Lakes Governors for your 10 minutes, please. Steve? Excuse me, David, nice to have you with us this morning.
DAVID NAFTZGER (Acting Executive Director, Council of Great Lakes Governors): Hopefully we can get the technology to cooperate here this morning. And I'm sure there is someone here that is more adept at this than I am, but if we could just try to bring up the slide in an of itself, on the screen there.
All right, well, while we sort out the technology, I just wanted to say…and there we are. I am David Naftzger, I am the Acting Executive Director of the Council of Great Lakes Governors, and I am the mysterious invited that appeared in your programs, so nice to actually have a face with that slot in the program.
Thank you very much to the International Joint Commission for the opportunity to be here this morning. A particular thanks to Chairman Gray and to Chairman Schornack; I appreciate the invitation to the Council of Great Lakes Governors.
And a big thank you to all of you for giving up your Saturday morning. You might not know it by the curtains being drawn, but it's a beautiful day outside and I know that people have foregone children's sporting events, college football, and other things to be here.
And I think that that speaks loudly to the momentum that Brian Mormino referenced around this important issue, and it's a pleasure to be here today to talk to you about Great Lakes restoration.
Last year, in response to the request by the members of the Congressional Great Lakes Task Force, Chairman Governor Bob Taft of Ohio launched the Great Lakes Governors Priorities Task Force.
And this is an initiative at the Council of Great Lakes Governors, the premise of which is that coordinated planning is needed to restore and protect
the Great Lakes while making efficient use of our limited resources.
The Task Force itself is composed of two representatives per state, one a policy representative, typically from the Governor's office, the other a technical expert, typically from one of the relevant agencies, the EPA, for example, in most states. The provinces participate as observers and they have similarly appointed two representatives per province.
The premise of the strategy and the work of the Task Force is really four-fold. Number one, build on the significant investments to date. Many of those have already been referenced, and I think it's very important that we recognize we're not starting from a clean slate, we already have a lot of good programs and significant resources being put toward this effort.
Secondly, valuing broad public participation, and this is critical, I think, in order to continue to build the momentum and to try to create a useful and meaningful state-federal partnership that can bring in a larger community of interests.
I had the privilege to participate in the workshop that was hosted by the Great Lakes Commission this Wednesday in Ann Arbor to try to provide an opportunity for public participation in this process, and I think Mike Donahue may be speaking a little bit more about the process that is underway.
Thirdly, to foster sound public policy and sustainable behaviour. There is a recognition that not only do we need to create the policy environment to move this initiative forward, but we also need to recognize that it's individual behaviour that is ultimately impacting the resource.
Fourthly, address the environmental issues of the present and anticipate the challenges of tomorrow. We can't only look outside our window and recognize what the issues are and we need to deal with today, but we also need to look forward and try to understand what might be coming down the pipe.
The Task Force has spent a great deal of time talking about a lot of the same themes that have already been talked about this morning, but we've distilled them into approximately nine themes, and these are likely to form the basis for the Governors' priorities.
I will say that the Governors are very close to finalizing their set of priorities and I expect in the next several days they will be sending a communication to Members of Congress with their priorities.
The first theme is to ensure the sustainable use of our water resources while confirming that the states retain authority over water use and diversions of Great Lakes waters.
I have a slide later in the presentation focused on the Great Lakes Charter Annex process that most of you are probably familiar with, and that truly represents the probably best example of how the Governors are addressing this issue in a coordinated fashion.
Secondly, to promote program to protect human health against the adverse effects of pollution in the Great Lakes ecosystem. The Task Force has had a great deal of discussion about the nexus between pollution and human health and the way in which we need to address that linkage.
Thirdly, to control pollution from diffuse sources into water, land, and air. I think that we all can agree that non-point-sources of pollution are a great challenge and one that needs to be addressed as part of this undertaking.
Next, to continue to reduce the introduction of persistent bio-accumulative toxics into the Great Lakes ecosystem. And this was a point that was referenced earlier by John Mills and something that I think there has been a great deal of agreement on.
Next, to stop the introduction and spread of non-native aquatic invasive species. And Chairman Schornack has certainly spent a great deal of time focused on this issue and it is one that is recognized that needs to be a major focus of the restoration and protection initiative.
Next, to enhance fish and wildlife by restoring and protecting coastal wetlands, fish, and wildlife habitats. This is an issue that has been focused on a great deal among the Task Force and something that was a major theme of discussion on Wednesday at the Great Lakes Commission workshop. So I think that, again, this is something that we can all agree on.
Next, to restore to environmental health the areas of concern. And this is an issue that in this group collectively, we have spent a lot of time on.
Next, to standardize and enhance the methods by which information is collected, recorded, and shared within the region. Again, building on a lot of the good work that is already underway among our research centres, the Great Lakes Commission and elsewhere.
And lastly, to adopt sustainable use practices that protect environmental resources and may enhance the recreational and commercial value of our Great Lakes.
Just briefly - and I know the Annex was the topic of a program yesterday, and I probably don't need to tell you any more about this agreement - except it is important to note that the Governors have already come together to work toward these priorities in a coordinated fashion, and this is a process with partnership with the premiers from Ontario and Quebec, and a process that's also inclusive and involving an advisory committee of stakeholders and many of you in this room.
The Governors are also moving forward toward the realization of these priority objectives with significant resources, and investments are being made on a grand scale.
For example, in the general accounting office report that came out last year, it noted during the time period that they reviewed that states had devoted nearly $1 billion to Great Lakes-specific programs. During the same time, approximately $745 million was similarly spent by the federal agencies, including the Army Corps.
I think this illustrates the fact that partnerships are key. And in terms of the spending that I just referenced, that is state-federal; however, it needs to be larger than that.
And as Steve Thorpe mentioned, the mayors and local governments are key players in this. We have had ongoing discussions with Dave Ullrich and the Great Lakes Cities Initiative and Mayor Daley's staff and others, and it is only through partnerships that we are going to be able to realize our shared objectives.
I also want to briefly state the importance of the stakeholder groups and the non-governmental organizations. A lot of good work is already underway, and we have, in the Annex process, been able to learn a lot more about these initiatives and the good work that is taking place throughout the region.
In conclusion, I just want to once again say thank you on behalf of the Governors for the opportunity to be with you this morning. I think it speaks volumes about the importance that we attach to the issue that we've all taken the time and effort to be here today and all the time and effort that has gone into this important issue over the past several weeks and months and that I know will be continuing into the future. Again, thank you. (APPLAUSE)
TIM SKUBICK: Thank you very much, David. Next up, we have Mike Donahue from the Great Lakes Commission. Mike, if you would step up to the podium, please, with your presentation for 10 minutes. And thank you, Sir.
MIKE DONAHUE (Great Lakes Commission): Well, good morning, everyone. It's a pleasure to share the podium with such an impressive group of colleagues here, and in particular, I am looking forward to the comments and ideas that come out during the public discussion.
It's also quite a pleasure to be meeting here in Ann Arbor, which is my home town and also the headquarters of the Great Lakes Commission. Saturday mornings, as maybe you can tell already, are kind of…there's kind of a special feel in the air in college towns like this.
As I noted in my welcoming remarks to the Remedial Action Plans session the other day, Ann Arbor has had its own area of concern in recent years called Michigan Stadium, and thankfully, restoration priorities have been established and I'm pleased to say that this afternoon, our third-ranked Wolverines will be playing in Oregon.
And I'm also pleased to say that ESPN has re-scheduled a game to start at 3:30 because they didn't want to compete with the public forum today, so I think we're in pretty good shape. (APPLAUSE)
Well, in ten minutes or less, I'm actually going to accomplish six objectives. And what I want to do is just provide a bit of a context for ecosystem restoration, review Great Lakes Commission authorities, talk about foundations for our current and prospective work in this area, highlight a current partnership initiative that Dave mentioned a couple of times already, an initiative that supports our Great Lakes Governors, I want to offer my perspective on critical planning elements for restoration planning, and then I'll wrap up with a quick observation or two.
I think the key point that I want to make here with regard to the first item is that ecosystem restoration, however you want to define it, is not a new concept, but it's being rediscovered.
I would argue that its roots are probably based in the Teddy Roosevelt, when the Inland Waterways Commission of 1906 issued a landmark report that called for comprehensive river basin planning across the country.
Multi-objective planning thrived during the mid-20th century, and the Federal Water Resources Planning Act of '67, 1967, expanded the concept and authorized river basin commissions to be established across the country and it also authorized the development of something called CCJPs - some of you may have been around long enough to remember that - comprehensive coordinated joint plans, code name for restoration plans.
Now this type of planning fell out of favour in the early '80, but it's really back with a vengeance. Just consider the vitality of the discussions today, the legislation that's recently been introduced, with more sure to follow. In the words of our eminent philosopher, Yogi Berra, it is indeed a case of déjŕ vu all over again, but that's really a good thing.
The puzzle pieces for a basin-wide plan, in my view, are…or at least most of them are already scattered about, and our real challenge is to assemble, package, and sell them.
And in so doing, we need to remember that restoration is nothing more than an exercise in futility, not to mention a phenomenal waste of resources, if it's not done in the context of sustainability. Once we improve the state of the resource, we want to make sure that the improved state is maintained over the long term.
By way of background, restoration planning is central to the Great Lakes Commission's being. We were established in the mid-'50s, through acts of the eight state legislatures and U.S. federal consent legislation. More recently, a declaration of partnership between state and federal officials brought Ontario and Quebec formally into the fold.
Articles 1 and 2 of the Great Lakes Basin Compact, our enabling legislation, present a comprehensive planning and restoration mandate, and articles 6 and 7 provide associated advisory and recommendatory powers.
And in addition to our mandated responsibility that we serve as an advocate for the membership, the Commission has some considerable functions in the area of research planning, technical assistance, and outreach services.
These functions include issue-specific plans such as for aquatic nuisance species, habitat restoration, and brownfields re-development, all of which we're working on right now; watershed-based plans such as our support for a Lake St. Clair watershed restoration and management plan, which is underway at this point in time; data and information repositories such as the Great Lakes Information Network, a toxic air emissions data inventory, and a Great Lakes regional water use database; and then, finally, consensus-based restoration priorities such as our annual federal legislative and appropriations priorities that we call the Great Lakes program to ensure environmental and economic prosperity.
These are going to look awful similar to you based upon the previous presentation and other discussions before me and to follow, I suspect.
This is not a plan, but it's a strategy comprised of goals, objectives, and strategic actions, and it centres on the following items that have achieved consensus by the membership: cleaning up toxic hot spots; closing the door on invasive species; controlling our diffuse sources of pollution; restoring and conserving wetlands and other critical coastal habitat; ensuring sustainability in the use of our water resources; strengthening our decision support capacity; and finally, enhancing the commercial and recreational value of our waterways in a sustainable context.
Again, these are all pretty familiar statements, I think, and you'll hear a lot more about those for the balance of the day.
Through these types of policy statements and formal resolutions, the Great Lakes Commission has indicated its full support for a governors-led initiative to establish restoration priorities, and once that's accomplished, to reflect those priorities in some type of planning document that will provide the blueprint for achieving them.
So toward this end, we've teamed up with the Great Lakes Sea Grant programs and secured National Sea Grant Program funding for a whole series of jurisdiction-specific workshops to inform the restoration priorities and plan development process.
The first such workshop, a public forum in every sense, was held just three days ago right here on campus, in partnership with the Michigan office of the Great Lakes.
And we're working closely with the Council of Great Lakes Governors to ensure that the format, the substance, and the outcome of these events are of the greatest possible utility.
I should also note that there's a companion project underway by the Northeast-Midwest Institute to identify lessons learned from other regional initiatives that we can bring to bear on our challenges here in this region.
Well, very briefly, what are some of the critical considerations in initiating such a planning process? I had a lot of fun with this question because my academic background right here at the University of Michigan is in institutional design and development and environmental planning, and it's always nice to be able to legitimize one's tuition payments.
So I kind of took a careful look at all of this, at the region's history with restoration planning and with other experiences across North America, and I'll offer just a few quick views on critical planning elements that might get some discussion going later.
In brief, we need our governors and our premiers in the driver's seat, but there needs to be other hands on the wheels in terms of public and non-governmental partners to really make this thing work.
It needs to be an open and inclusive process. It must be based on sound science, both in the plan formulation and implementation stage, not to mention priorities development.
It must have bipartisan support, not only at the federal level, but at all levels.
It must have a binational component. If you think it's difficult to manage uses in a large-size ecosystem like the Great Lakes basin, just try managing only up to the dotted line. I think we need to say no further than that.
Let's not add bureaucracy and associated complexity. Let's fully exploit our existing institutions, our existing laws, our existing policies, our existing programs and plans, and particularly the plans.
We have a Great Lakes strategy. We have lake-wide management plans. We have remedial action plans. We have a fisheries management plan. We have aquatic species management plans. We have a Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The list goes on and on and on.
Let's also establish benchmarks and monitoring programs and fund them hand in hand with restoration projects so we can measure progress and adaptively manage as needed. And let's instil very clear lines of authority and accountability into the process.
Let's establish restoration principles and priorities in the short term and use them as a basis for resource allocation while a larger planning effort runs its course. Who amongst us here would like to wait five or seven years for the plan to be completed before we start focusing on those restoration priorities?
And of course, let's define this term rather than tossing it out in some type of cavalier manner, and let's recognize that restoration, as we've heard already, has ecological, social, cultural, economic components.
And of course, the significant long-term sustainability funding that augments rather than replaces existing authorities and funding commitments is going to be critically important.
So in conclusion, I'd like to leave you with just a few quick thoughts. And this first one has been touched upon, and I sensed a little bit of disagreement, but I think some decry the fact that we have a very rich and detailed tapestry of institutions and plans in this region.
And I will assure you that every other region in North America and beyond that I've ever worked with views the Great Lakes region with envy. In other words, this is a good thing, and I agree with John Mills' comments on this. There's no question about it.
And we have the building blocks or the puzzle pieces, whatever euphemism you want to use, largely in place and available for use. And while our ecosystem is not quite…or our institutional ecosystem is not quite the well-oiled machine that we'd all like it to be, far from it, it does have the potential to serve us well when fine-tuned.
Let's remember that planning is a means to an end, not an end in itself. We must not lose connection with the lakes.
And finally, as this process moves forward in partnership, I just wanted to indicate on behalf of my membership that the Great Lakes Commission will exercise its full authorities in partnership with others 'til we get to that vision that we're all talking about.
And with that, I'll conclude my remarks, and thank you for your attentiveness.
TIM SKUBICK: Thank you, Dr. Donahue, we appreciate it. (APPLAUSE) Okay, could we have Steve and Dave and Mike, take your seats back up on the forum, and this is now a part for the audience to participate with questions that you may have for any of these three gentlemen.
All right, while you're thinking of one, I have one for David. David, how long has the Great Lakes Governors' Council been in existence, Sir?
DAVID NAFTZGER: The Council of Great Lakes Governors has been around since the mid-'80s.
TIM SKUBICK: And you're now going to issue what your priorities are next week, is that correct?
DAVID NAFTZGER: The Great Lakes Governors Priorities Task Force is prepared to be taking its next step with the Governors' issuance of the priorities for restoration and protection.
Since the mid-'80s, the organization, however, has been moving forward with a number of priority objectives, not the least of which has been the Great Lakes Charter, the Great Lakes Charter Annex...
TIM SKUBICK: So this is another set of priorities.
DAVID NAFTZGER: This is one of a number of different undertakings within the umbrella of the Council.
TIM SKUBICK: Okay, what's the lead out of this? Give us a little scoop here. What's going to be the top priority that these governors have decided on, Sir?
DAVID NAFTZGER: Well, I'm very reluctant to say there is a top priority...
TIM SKUBICK: Oh, come on. The truth will set you free. Come on.
DAVID NAFTZGER: As you'll note on the presentation - and this is something we've actually kicked around - they're all bulleted. There is not a 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9, because there is a recognition that these are all important objectives. However, there is also a recognition that there is limited resources to realize these objectives, so...
TIM SKUBICK: All right, let me try it this way. If you had limited resources, what's the one thing the governors would want to do?
DAVID NAFTZGER: I wouldn't pretend to speak on behalf of the Governors in answering that question. (LAUGHS) I would simply say they...
TIM SKUBICK: You know what? I can tell you there's not a governor in this room and we promise not to tell, right folks? (LAUGHS) This is totally off the record. Go for it, Dave. Come on, you'll like it.
DAVID NAFTZGER: I think I'll defer to the Governors and let them speak for themselves on that issue.
TIM SKUBICK: All right, obviously a politician. Would you mind standing, Sir? All right, and your question, please.
DAVE ULLRICH (Great Lakes Cities Initiative): Yeah, I'm Dave Ullrich with the Great Lakes Cities Initiative, and I just wanted to offer Dave some assistance in terms of identifying priorities.
As Steve mentioned, the Great Lakes Cities Initiative, probably the newest organization...
(TAPE CHANGES SIDES)
...the swimming bans are killing the cities on the Great Lakes. All of the problems associated with the beach closings, the swimming bans, the standard itself, the test methods, what's causing it, are real problems.
Invasive species. There is no reason. We know the major source of the invasive species is the no-ballast-on-board ships, and the two federal governments need to come to grips with how we are going to stop that, and there are ways to do that.
TIM SKUBICK: What do you want those guys to do?
DAVE ULLRICH: I want them to establish management practices and standards for the ships that come into the Great Lakes system. There is legislation pending, and the representatives of Senator Levin and Senator Voinovich and others can help make that happen.
Those are two real top-notch items, shore land protection, both the integrity of the shore land, the habitat, and the public access are critical, and then, if we have a little time left over, let's nail the contaminated sediments as well. Thank you.
TIM SKUBICK: Very good.
STEVE THORPE: Tim, Tim, may I?
TIM SKUBICK: Speak, please go ahead.
STEVE THORPE: Let me just take on to what Dave...
TIM SKUBICK: Move that mic just a little closer up there.
STEVE THORPE: Is this better now?
TIM SKUBICK: Perfect, Steve.
STEVE THORPE: ...somewhere up here.
TIM SKUBICK: You're good, right there.
STEVE THORPE: Beach closures, of course, is a very important issue and we're making progress on that, but obviously, how to achieve the timely notice and the testing protocols and all of that remain an issue.
What I wanted to mention here is an evolving matter that the mayors are particularly interested in, and that is what is happening on the urban waterfront.
Over the last 20 years, there has been this evolution of change on the waterfront. Our backs are no longer to the water. We're looking at the water, it's of the highest interest from a real estate standpoint, the public access issue is politically charged, but there is a growing concern that what is happening on the water is going to influence ultimately what happens on the waterfront.
Commercial navigation in some ports is diminishing; it's increasing or holding its own in others. This notion of preserving adequate land and area for commercial operations down the road is important, as with recreational boating. The water level issues, the importance of recreational boating is so important, and dredging remains a critical problem.
TIM SKUBICK: Steve, if I heard in your remarks correctly, you weren't really crying in your beer, but you were lamenting the fact that the mayors are sort of the last folks brought into this process. Did I hear you correctly there, Sir?
STEVE THORPE: Well, the process is in a sense just beginning, but no, I think you heard me correct. They are emphatic and adamant about a leadership role...
TIM SKUBICK: Well, how come they're leaving you guys out?
STEVE THORPE: What?
TIM SKUBICK: How come they're leaving you out?
STEVE THORPE: Well, they aren't (?). And in fact, I acknowledged in my remarks that both pieces of federal legislation include a substantive role for local officials, whether they be at the county or multi-county or city level. But these are mayors of cities, so we'd like that to be more expressly identified and described.
TIM SKUBICK: Okay, but you feel the mayors need a better seat at the table because you don't have it right now.
STEVE THORPE: Not only…yeah, a better one and a more prominent one.
TIM SKUBICK: Ah. What do you think about that at the Great Lakes Commission? Mayors, are they the poor folks left out here? Dr. Donahue, we'll pass that microphone over there.
MIKE DONAHUE: I think one of the reasons that the Great Lakes Commission was part of a tri-part arrangement in establishing the International Association almost 20 years ago was to recognize that need for inclusiveness.
And it's kind of a dilemma, because you need a town hall approach in a way to get everybody at the table to talk, but at the same time it's impossible to get everybody at the table.
And I think that the establishment of the International Association some years ago and the new Cities Initiative provides some additional formality and opportunity for voices to be heard more effectively.
And the Great Lakes Commission, as a body of the states, is most certainly supportive of making that happen. Because let's face it, the bottom line is mayors are the folks ultimately that have to get things done at the local level.
TIM SKUBICK: All right, let me go back to the Governors' group just for a second. It seems to me that Michigan, of all of the states that are in this basin region, seems to be the one that could benefit the most from acting (?).
Is there a little parochialism going on among the governors? You're not going to answer this, why am I even bothering? (LAUGHS) I'm sorry.
No, I'm going to go ahead. Are there concerns about other governors that Michigan, if we do things right, will come out getting more than everybody else? Is that a problem?
DAVID NAFTZGER: I don't know at least to date that we've encountered a lot of parochialism. I think that there is recognition that there is a shared objective that we can all agree on in terms of protecting and restoring the Great Lakes.
Clearly, Michigan, lying entirely within the Great Lakes basin, one could argue may have somewhat of a different stake in this than a state like Pennsylvania, for example, that only has a modest amount of shoreline.
However, I think that the Governors, and through the Task Force, through the Charter Annex process, and through their significant investments, have made clear that the Great Lakes are a priority to all of them.
TIM SKUBICK: Do the Mayors favour re-opening the Great Lakes Quality Agreement? Pass the microphone over there.
STEVE THORPE: We don't have an official position on that, so I'm not...
TIM SKUBICK: Well, what's the unofficial position? No wonder you don't have a seat at the table! (LAUGHS)
STEVE THORPE: I'm not in a position to answer that.
TIM SKUBICK: Well, why not?
STEVE THORPE: Well, I really... I'm not that familiar with the specific issues there, so I'm not about to speak on behalf of them.
TIM SKUBICK: All right, let's poll the audience. How many people, by your applause, think that we ought to re-open that agreement? Applaud. (APPLAUSE) All right, how many people, by applause, believe it was great the way it was, we settled it in 1978, leave it alone, applause. (LESS APPLAUSE)
Let's pick up... come here, Dempsey. You're kind of a reformer kind of guy. Leave that thing closed? Why don't you want to want to re-open it and revise it?
DAVE DEMPSEY (Lake Michigan Region, Great Lakes United): The principles of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement are timeless. They talk about virtual elimination of toxic substances, that still is valid today and is far from being realized, as it was in 1978.
TIM SKUBICK: Nothing has happened between now and 1978 to change this document?
DAVE DEMPSEY: You're so good at asking questions that are misleading, Tim. (LAUGHS) No, that's not what I've said. A lot of things have changed in 25 years, but the principles of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement are just as valid as ever.
TIM SKUBICK: So, but it doesn't need any tinkering or, to borrow the Governors' term, any tweaking?
DAVE DEMPSEY: Not my knowledge at this point.
TIM SKUBICK: Okay, and you agree with him?
UNIDENTIFIED: Yes, I do.
TIM SKUBICK: Why?
UNIDENTIFIED: The principles are the same as far as that goes. A lot of things have changed in 25 years, but the basic principles are still the same.
TIM SKUBICK: Anybody on the panel want to take a shot at that? Dr. Donahue?
MIKE DONAHUE: Well, if I could have the audacity of maybe asking a third question and seeing if there's any applause, how many people believe that the Agreement should be objectively reviewed with an open mind toward revision if needed? (APPLAUSE)
TIM SKUBICK: What?!? Did you understand what that was, Sir?
UNIDENTIFIED: Every word. (LAUGHS)
TIM SKUBICK: Okay. Did you understand what that was?
TIM SKUBICK: Okay, and did you applaud?
TIM SKUBICK: You want to re-open the Agreement?
UNIDENTIFIED: I'm thinking about it.
TIM SKUBICK: Think about it. Let me a show of hands; who wanted to re-open the Agreement? Please, help me out here. Let me take this young lady here in the red. Would you mind, excuse me, Sir? All right, would you mind standing?
UNIDENTIFIED: (inaudible)...totally out of date. Most of the things in the Annex have been achieved and perhaps there should be a new Annex (?).
TIM SKUBICK: Mr. Dempsey says the principles are there, it's a wonderful document.
UNIDENTIFIED: The principles, but the specifics are not accurate anymore.
TIM SKUBICK: Give me one that's inaccurate.
UNIDENTIFIED: I can't give it to you...
TIM SKUBICK: Can you help her out?
TIM SKUBICK: Anybody on the panel help her out? Dr. Donahue, anything in there?
MIKE DONAHUE: I agree entirely that the principles are timeless and most appropriate, but if you…and we've done this on the Science Advisory Board.
If you look at the language, there's dates that have passed, there is old science, old management. It just needs to be updated, perhaps. But the important point is let's review it objectively first.
It's totally premature to just say let's re-open it and change it. Let's look at it first, understand it and then make that decision.
TIM SKUBICK: All right, let's ask some of the folks in the front row here. Should we get back into that?
UNIDENTIFIED: Oh, I believe it's something we should consider.
TIM SKUBICK: Because?
UNIDENTIFIED: Because of all the reasons that Dr. Donahue just pointed out.
TIM SKUBICK: Very good. And over here?
UNIDENTIFIED: I believe it needs to be reviewed.
TIM SKUBICK: Talk to Dempsey back there. He said, look it... David, stand up a second so these folks can see you, okay. Is this... do you want to take a shot at that, Herb? Please.
HERB GRAY (Chairman, Canadian Section, International Joint Commission): The Agreement itself makes a clear distinction between reviewing it - that's in one clause - and a totally separate clause provides a mechanism for amendment.
Now why do I mention that? I'm Herb Gray, the Canadian Chair. I mention that because when this last came up some six years ago, there was a fear that if the Agreement was "re-opened", it would end up being weakened.
HERB GRAY: I was not involved in this particular job, but I understand the thinking. And therefore, I want to make sure that while I agree fully that it's time to review thoroughly the Agreement in the light of current and future needs, we have to make sure we don't inadvertently slide back in what we're doing.
So we have to find the mechanism to review and update and modernize and not inadvertently backslide.
UNIDENTIFIED: (inaudible)...are going to backslide (inaudible)... (APPLAUSE)
TIM SKUBICK: All right, that seems predominant (?). A question. What do you think? Should we get in there?
UNIDENTIFIED: I agree with Chair Gray. I think review is appropriate.
TIM SKUBICK: And?
UNIDENTIFIED: Oh, thank you. I believe review is appropriate, but we have to make a very careful distinction between…when we're reviewing it, between what's outdated and what haven't we achieved.
TIM SKUBICK: Margaret, if you got in that document, what's the one thing you would change if you could do it in a heartbeat?
UNIDENTIFIED: As Dave said, I wouldn't change any of the principles, but I would definitely like to make it more accountable so that the dates... those things that are out of date get good, solid dates put in there so that we really achieve... it needs to be made stronger in terms of accountability.
TIM SKUBICK: If we put the accountability in there, though, who polices it? Who makes sure we get the accountability?
UNIDENTIFIED: Well, that's partly why I think we're thinking about a restoration agenda. That has been part of our problem.
TIM SKUBICK: And Mr. Mills, what do you think?
JOHN MILLS: I think the Agreement has served us well for 30 years and it's time for it to be updated and strengthened. I think in terms of your previous question, the policing, the IJC has a standing reference to comment on how well we're doing as parties under the Agreement.
TIM SKUBICK: What kind of hammer does Mr. Schornack have to hit these folks over the head?
JOHN MILLS: It's the public accountability, and that's a very strong hammer.
>TIM SKUBICK: Very good, all right. At this juncture, here's what we're going to do, gang... you want... please, Herb.
HERB GRAY: I just wanted to reiterate that point on behalf of myself and my fellow commissioners. We do not make private or confidential reports to governments.
All our reports are released to the public and we invite comment on them and we, I think, are effective if we have the vocal support of the public, which is why a meeting like this is so important.
TIM SKUBICK: Exactly part of the reason why we're here this morning. Here's what we're going to do. You have been so good, you get a 10 to 15 minute break, but here's the drill: you have to come back. All right, see you after the break. Thank you. (APPLAUSE)
GEORGE KUPER (President and Chief Executive Officer, Council of Great Lakes Industries): It should be obvious to those of you who know me why we're here because I represent an organization that is committed to the sustainable development and the sustainable development policies in the Great Lakes basin.
This has been an ongoing agenda for the Council of Great Lakes Industries for the last decade. Plus, our membership is three dozen large Canadian and U.S. companies and, in some cases, the associations that also represent them.
And we're here because there's a huge opportunity in the basin right now that is really quite remarkable. But I want to make sure that just because we've had a break, we don't forget what the governments told us at the beginning of this session, which is that we've made a hell of a lot of progress.
And I've summarized here on a chart you can't see that's de rigueur, that's absolutely obligatory, the latest report from the Great Lakes Binational Toxic Strategy, their full summary of how far we've come in certain substances that are identified in the Water Quality Agreement and are under work…underway, work in progress, with results being reported right now.
I think that the message that we ought to be taking and the message behind our interest in re-looking at the Water Quality Agreement is that we may not have gotten all the way there, but by God, we put in place a lot of devices and processes that are going to get us there.
So the question becomes then what are we going to do now? And in fact, we have in the past focused on fixing; I suspect that what we need to do now is to focus on the future: what is it that we're going to have to do to ourselves, our institutions, and the way we relate to one another that makes us competitive and viable and provides the quality of life for future generations in our basin?
Now the trick then becomes one of, as this meeting started out, how are we going to set our objectives, and can we do it in a fashion which reflects joint interests of a bunch of us?
And the problem that we have in industry is always the question of, okay, we have a new buzzword, it's called restore the greatness, what the hell are we going to restore it to? What's our objective?
Tell us the objective, tell us where we're trying to get, and we'll tell you whether or not we can be helpful in getting there, and you'll tell us if we're not…if we don't step up to the plate, you'll figure out some way to tell us what you want us to do.
The question is can we take the current momentum that is building and the initiative of a whole pot of gold out there being dangled in front of us and turn it into what it is we're going to need to mobilize the basin?
Can we use this opportunity? I don't know the answer to that. I suspicion that our interest…we have a lot of institutions in this basin and our interest in protecting and building our own rice bowls will cloud our effort to get together on the agenda, but let's see if we can't do so.
The problem that we have with both of the bills currently pending - and this is a reparable problem - is that they are really focused on more fixing, and we think that what we need in the basin is a focus on sustainable development.
And I've pirated this chart from the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, which is a European-oriented group of industrial organizations with a lot of American membership that is focused on this topic, particularly as how industry relates to the second and third worlds.
But you notice, I look at this dynamic and as I look at what we're talking about doing under our sustainable development framework, it fits for our region as well. We're just starting from a higher base.
But critical is the whole thought that we've got to deal with not just the ecological system in which we function, but we got to deal with the economic system and the social system in which we're operating.
And we, in the basin, I think, have a lot of reason for explaining…for exploring those particular pillars, if you will. You notice, Mr. Chairman Schornack, I didn't use a stool in this case, I used an arch with three pillars, so a three-legged stool, so we don't get confused.
There are certain elements in a sustainable development approach, which we call a framework, which I'll go through with you very quickly today to tee up with you what I think industry can bring to the party, but they're the sort of things that we all have to do. It's not just what industry has to do, it's what all of the institutions in the basin are going to have to do.
The first is corporate social responsibility. That is ingrained right now in the industrial basin, in the basin, and I don't think we have to say too much more about that.
We need to have a system in which governance is exercised through a mix of command and control, voluntary initiatives, as well as economic instruments. It has to be a mix of all those three; you can't do with just one or just the other.
Sustainable development includes a focus by those of us who utilize the resources of the basin on what we call eco-efficiency. That's a combination of what used to be known and focused on in terms of pollution prevention, as well as the more recent consideration of life cycle planning behind our products as well as the ingredients of those products.
There has been a lot of work done in industry, and I highlight a bunch of examples in the written text. I wanted to mention in particular, there's an association of chemical companies that have introduced something called responsible care that's now functioning in…how many countries, I think 35 plus countries now. It started in Canada, adopted and promoted in the United States, extraordinarily important self-policing approach to getting the job done.
Another element of sustainable development framework is how we manage change. And this is a particularly important one because it requires people, us, to be sufficiently flexible so we can do something different tomorrow than we did yesterday and get paid for it. It's quite a trick and it requires quite an orientation.
We've already heard that dialogues and partnerships are critical. We agree. We also…I skipped on here. We also need to make sure that from our standpoint, we have informed consumers.
Our consumers need to know everything about our products: where they came from, what they're made with, how you use them, how you dispose of them. It's critical to make this work.
And of course, we need to make sure that we have something we call innovation, which is a continual round of being able to bring new things to the marketplace, new ways of solving problems, new ways of providing service and responding to the needs of the population.
Now that's the framework. I want to spend just a moment or two talking about the realities of functioning in the region.
I do this with a great deal of trepidation because I'm a neophyte in functioning in this region compared to all of you here. And you can give me a grade as to how well I have learned over a decade of participating with you all about what the realities are of doing business here.
The first issue that we've got is one of governance. You know, our region is a really complicated region from a governance point of view. The dynamic between the IJC and the parties, the dynamics between Environment Canada and U.S. EPA, are really quite extraordinary.
Now the problem that we've got is that those all have very established ways of getting the job done. And if we're going to come around, come together around a new agenda, we might have to re-organize those kinds of relationships a little bit, and I hope we can do it.
And I hope we can do it without building new structures, because new structures tend 1) to add more confusion, and 2) become threatening to the existing institutions and they are less likely to be willing to embrace the newer agenda.
Therefore, I suggest that we improve the institutions that we currently have and utilize those institutions to get the job done. If you ask me, as I presume Tim might eventually, who would be a good candidate to lead a sustainable development planning operation for our region, you know, we have got a pretty good one in something called a Binational Executive Committee.
It's been moribund, but it has new leadership that has sort of stuck a stick in its side. It's bringing new agencies into the party, new dialogues are occurring. You know, building on that kind of dynamic might be a good way to go. Might get some argument about that before we're finished.
The second key element is tracking progress. You know, we're really lousy at this. The basic problem with environmental policy in the basin has been that we've not had clearly defined objectives. We need to have indicators that assess progress to meeting those objectives and we need to have data to support those indicators.
Thank God we have a lot of effort behind the SOLEC and we now have some effort to try to produce the data that's going to support the SOLEC indicators, and hopefully we'll have some improvement of those SOLEC indicators. But by God, this has been tough.
And if you think about it, our environmental objectives in our nations, both of our nations, have been the only major national objectives that we've pursued in our histories for which we do not have independent measures of progress, and I think that's really held us back a great deal.
From a sustainable development point of view, the…I've lost my notes here, I've gone one page too fast.
The Canadian Roundtable on the Environment and Economy has proposed a set of environmental and sustainable development indicators which I understand are going to be picked up by the Canadian Information System for the Environment. I think we need to track that very carefully and consider adopting a similar initiative on the south side of the border.
The third reality is one that we've not ever had a conversation about in this venue, and we really need to. I come out of the manufacturing community, so the fact that manufacturing is a social and economic essential is not new to me.
But I keep forgetting that we have to remind ourselves that this is a region that is based on manufacturing. And unless we have some really good thing to substitute manufactured product, we're going to be in trouble.
And the reason we're going to be in trouble…well, I should say, why do we like manufacturing; I mean, I'm getting ahead of myself here. Manufacturing has represented from a social point of view the primary source or the primary route to achieving middle class status in our society.
It clearly anchors the high-end service jobs. It has been a driver for technological demand for the last two centuries. And as we're learning to our detriment, it's absolutely critical for trade balance.
The problem that we have in our region is that in Michigan, which is a pretty good sample of the manufacturing base of the basin, over the last two years, 43 per cent of the manufacturing enterprises in the basin have seen a 10 per cent reduction in gross sales.
Business has gone down for the manufacturing community. We've got to look at that and figure out what's happened. 26 per cent of those guys have seen 40 per cent or more loss of sales. It's a real problem.
Okay, I'm being told that I'm running out of town... time. (LAUGHS) I'm almost to the summary. It's tough to... I mean, I even live here, it's even.. it's worse than that.
I made the point, we've really got to be able to set realistic priorities. This has been a real bugaboo for us and the cause of a lot of argument.
I will move on to the summary and tell you that I think federal dollars can be good for the region if we use it constructively, but we don't need new authorities, and we can count on industry's support to pursue a collective sustainable development program.
Thank you very much, and I really appreciate your being here and being polite enough to listen to me.
TIM SKUBICK: Thank you, George. (APPLAUSE) And George, let me thank you in advance for providing some very provocative things that I can hardly wait to get it. All right. (LAUGHS)
Let's move next to the Great Lakes United and Margaret Wooster, and we need about 30 or 40 seconds here to set us some high-tech stuff. Remember, after Margaret is done, we will have a good chunk of time for all you folks to get involved in our process, so think of your questions.
And we're going to award $1,000 to the best question from this group. And of course, I'm a reporter, and nobody believes reporters and you shouldn't believe that, either, okay.
All right, so are we just about set here with the stuff? Okay, very good. Margaret, when you're ready to go, you've got about 10 minutes, and the Good Lord willing, the podium is yours.
MARGARET WOOSTER (Executive Director, Great Lakes United): While he's setting up, I can start to talk. I want to thank the commissioners for inviting us here and Great Lakes United embodied in me for right now, thank you very much for inviting us to participate in the forum.
I am here to talk about the Green Book, the Great Lakes' environmental groups, conservation groups, and labour groups, that make up our consistency, to talk about that restoration agenda.
Most of you know who Great Lakes United is. We're a binational, really international coalition of about 170 groups representing hundreds of thousands of people around the basin, from Canada, United States, First Nations and tribes.
We're a coalition of environmental groups, conservation groups, like Trout Unlimited and Ducks Unlimited, and labour groups, like Canadian Auto Workers, United Auto Workers.
And about two years ago, we were told at our annual meeting from some knowledgeable people from Washington, D.C., that we were... that some of our political leaders were thinking of a restoration agenda for the Great Lakes and that we ought to get busy and really consult our groups and try and put something together so that this process was informed, genuinely informed by the citizenry of the Great Lakes basin.
So we surveyed our groups and our partners around the basin and asked them to identify the top issue areas as they saw them that needed to be dealt with in Great Lakes restoration, came up with seven, which I'm going to do a few... a bit of a summary in a minute.
And then we asked them to identify the key groups working on these issues, and we identified those, and then we asked those groups to help us put together, to actually write a restoration action agenda for the Great Lakes basin.
I want to emphasize it's not a plan, it's an action agenda in terms of some key points that we need to be working on. We haven't prioritized them yet and we certainly haven't put the dollar figures there. But these are the issues that rose to the top by the top groups working on them. And that's about all I want to say by way of introduction.
I wanted to also say that in doing this, I wanted to actually read the names of the 20 groups that really participated in the writing of this so that it's understood this is not a Great Lakes United document.
All of you have hopefully a copy of this Green Book, which is in the back of the room, and in the back are listed all of the organizations who participated in the writing.
This is actually a summary of a much larger text which is on our website at www.glu.org, and that is really the citizens' agenda with all of the rationale, the precedence, the models, and the justification basically for the specific recommendations that are in this book.
Briefly, the people who contributed and wrote it - I have to take my glasses off to see this - the Canadian Auto Workers, Canadian Environmental Law Association, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Citizens for Renewable Energy, Clean Wisconsin, Environmental Advocates of New York, the Federation of Ontario Naturalists, Great Lakes United, Lake Michigan Federation, Michigan Environmental Council, the Michigan Land Use Institute, the National Wildlife Federation, NorthWatch, North Woods Wilderness Recovery, The Preservation of Agricultural Land Society, The Sierra Club, The Sierra Club of Canada, Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, and Trout Unlimited.
They wrote drafts of these seven chapters in the long version, circulated those drafts, they came back, re-wrote, we went through an iterative process of ever-widening circles of review, and then the whole document was sent out for review twice to all of our member organizations in order to build it. So I just wanted to let you know that was our process for making this.
I don't need to say much about the reasons. I think we've had a lot of discussion these last three days about some of the symptoms of trends in the Great Lakes, and so I'm not going to go into detail there.
The recommendations that we made are to all levels of government. We distinguish between what's appropriate for federal governments, provincial or state governments, and municipal governments.
We have been using this document to try to inform, for example, the Ontario provincial elections, we brought it to the mayors' meeting in St. Catharines earlier this summer, highlighting some of the things in there that the mayors can do to contribute and be part of this restoration process.
So I'm going to take you through now the seven sections and give you just samples. And please understand these are not necessarily the priorities; I just wanted to give you samples of what the document contains.
So the first of the seven sections was on toxic clean-up, written by three or four groups who are working on that around the basin. And the first goal was complete clean-ups by 2015.
That would be 30 years after the Areas of Concern were first identified, and we deliberately set a tighter goal than is in the Great Lakes strategy or in COA because of the need for accountability and working backwards from that goal to really make sure that we're doing the steps we need to do to get there.
Detoxify contaminants. We would like to see built into this process better decision-making in terms of dealing with the end product or the end game of cleaning up contaminated sediments.
Some of the clean-ups, as you all know, are stalled at that point, because what do we do with the dredge spoils? One of the things we often do with the dredge spoils is rely on confined disposal facilities; if you fly over the Great Lakes, you see them.
We think these are the toxic hot spots of the future. We realize dealing with contaminated sediments is expensive, but we think that at this point in time, it's time to revisit how we're handling the end of the process of clean-up and to not assume that confined disposal facilities or in situ containment is necessarily the way to go.
And finally, on community capacity, the last bullet, building local leadership, again, these are just three of many recommendations in there, that we really also do need to be thinking long term about the Areas of Concern in terms of building community capacity, in terms of community-based health networks, in terms of community-based health surveys, funding those things, funding communities to be involved in the outreach needed to raise the issue so that communities can contribute in the states, they need to contribute at that local match, ever-important.
And the capacity of the public advisory committees and of communities in general, participation in the Areas of Concern clean-up, is a very vital and necessary thing for the short term and for the long term, and there's a funding opportunity there, as we look at restoration.
The second chapter in this citizens action agenda is on clean production. This goes back to the…really, this idea goes back to the sixth biannual report of the International Joint Commission.
And I just want to read you…we took quotes from all of the reports and sort of seeded them throughout this document. This quote is from the sixth biannual report issued by the International Joint Commission in 1992, and it is the basis for this clean production thinking that has been going on in the basin, and I would hazard to say we are a leader, at least conceptually, if not practically.
And the quote is "zero discharge means just that. Halting inputs from all human sources and pathways to prevent any opportunity for persistent toxic substances to enter the environment. To prevent such releases completely, their manufacture, use, and disposal must stop."
So when you look at those bullets up there, those are just some of the really tactics that have been explored, are being explored by many groups in the basin, and to some extent by our governments, for attaining a clean production chemicals policy, a clean production industry base in the Great Lakes.
The only one up there that's a little different is that fourth bullets, diversion rates of 60 per cent by 2010, and there you get an idea of one of the city challenges that we would bring to the Great Lakes mayors, that we really need to look at our recycling capacity and where we're at now with recycling in the cities.
I know Buffalo, where I'm from, we're at 7 per cent, which is terrible, and then there are other cities that are almost 60 per cent. So that gives you an idea of the breadth of some of those recommendations, and also that everybody can play.
There's room for everybody in this agenda of clean production, and we owe a lot to the IJC and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement for putting it so clearly on the agenda.
Green energy is something that we haven't talked about much. It's definitely a clean production…kind of subsidiary of clean production. It's really important now, as we all know, because of energy development, energy use, energy blackouts, and energy policy in both countries. It's changing rapidly.
We called... the groups working on this call for 20 per cent renewable energy by 2020, and that was actually the first chapter to get written in this, so that was sort of put down two years ago.
And I'm happy to say that at least four of the ten provinces…states and provinces around the Great Lakes are offering that as a goal. New York State, Ontario, Minnesota, and Ohio all have either energy policy now or bills waiting to be passed that call for the equivalent of 20 per cent renewable energy by 2020.
So that is... that's a fast-moving train, and I think to some extent, the technology and what states and provinces are actually doing is out in front of where our federal governments are.
Setting high standards for efficiency and conservation and the incentives to meet them is part of another important thing when we think about this citizens' restoration agenda.
Here, we have a possibility for subsidy shifting, for finding a way to pay for something very much needed in the Great Lakes basin, which is shifting to green energy sources, improved efficiency technologies, and energy conservation.
And if we could put some of the government subsidy that's currently going into fossil fuel technologies to those three standards, we believe we could phase out coal and nuclear plants by 2020 and replace with not only renewables, but energy efficiency and energy conservation.
The fourth area was water quantities and flows. There has been a lot of great work done through the Annex 2001 process, and we're very happy about that process in the sense that it began because of a scare of water exports from Lake Superior, but it has led to a very healthy discussion about how we're using water right here in the Great Lakes.
And we've begun to understand, as somebody said earlier this morning, how little we know about not only how are we using water, but what water is there actually out there in terms of groundwater and flows, the tributary streams.
So in the context of restoration, the Annex 2001 process is beginning to look at our own uses of water, and some of the recommendations that have been made through that process are ban diversion between watersheds as well as out of the basin; create a plan to reduce our own consumption of water, which is twice as high as even the most developed countries in the world, which is where the 50 per cent came from; a water withdrawal reform plan by 2005, which is, I think, the promise of Annex 2001; removing water from trade agreements so that water is not a commodity and not tradable out of the Great Lakes.
Protecting and restoring species, I'm just going to focus on the top bullet, invasive species, navigation practices to eliminate new introductions.
We agree with I think everybody who has spoken to that this morning, that we need ballast water standards for transoceanic vessels immediately to stop new introductions.
We also think we need to look at shipping on the Great Lakes in the context of foreign shipping and what it does actually contribute to the Great Lakes economy and make adjustments, think about that big picture of shipping in the Great Lakes before we do anything to, say, enlarge the existing system.
And finally... well, not finally, but this will be the final conversation piece, the protecting and restoring habitat, increase the net wetlands by one million acres by 2025.
This actually came from adding up what the states and provinces already have in various plans. So the citation for this is on the website in the longer piece, if you want to know where that goal came from; it's kind of already out there.
Sprawl, directing major public investment to designated development. This picks up on what we talked about in the watershed and land use planning session yesterday. I think it's very consistent with the recommendations that came out there.
And conservation. Just an interesting bullet. There's a lot of ideas in the Green Book about habitat preservation and what's needed, but this one is looking at the landscape scale, it's looking at the Great Lakes region in terms of climate change, and it's looking at the need for supporting wilderness areas, habitat areas, for migrating species through north-south corridors.
And there are a number of groups - Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society actually put this section together, and it's on our website - the list of all of the groups that are doing these landscape scale plans, and there are about 12 of them in the Great Lakes region. Thanks.
TIM SKUBICK: Thank you, Margaret. I appreciate it, ladies and gentlemen. (APPLAUSE) And my apologies, Margaret, for having to cut you off, but we do want to get a chance to have some of the audience members. Could I have all the panellists return to the hot seats, please?
And at this juncture, one of the objectives that we're trying to achieve here today, and we're very serious about the public input, is that we want to see is there a consensus on anything?
You've heard a lot of discussion here this morning about a variety of issues. Would you do this for us? Take out a piece of paper and a pencil right now and would you list for us and write down, and we're going to pass these in, your top three priorities that you think we ought to be dealing with with regard to restoration of the Great Lakes?
If you want to put your name and organization on it, fine. If you don't, that's...
(TAPE CHANGES SIDES)
MARGARET WOOSTER: ...problem has been solved. And then there's this whole slew of emerging chemicals of concern, which is huge and many of which are very similar in their molecular make-up and their human health effects, to some of the ones that have been banned. So...
TIM SKUBICK: How many chemicals should be on that list, in your mind?
MARGARET WOOSTER: Well, we have...
TIM SKUBICK: Every one invented by man and woman?
MARGARET WOOSTER: Well, no. There are processes in place, there's been a lot of thinking about this, and there's a whole level... there's a level 2 list, for example, that needs to be looked at and is being looked at in terms of chemicals that are still being produced and used.
And there are in both countries screening processes being developed for new chemicals, but they're not in effect yet, to the point that we have a lot of chemicals out there that haven't been screened, for example for their endocrine disruption effects and so forth.
TIM SKUBICK: George?
GEORGE KUPER: There are a couple of points that I'd like to make. And I understand the concern, but I take issue with the fact that we haven't changed our behaviours over the past 30 years, because I think that behaviours have changed dramatically.
And any company introducing a new product today that hasn't gone through the most amazing amount of toxicity and other kinds of testing, that company is a stock you don't want to invest in because they 're in deep trouble.
The whole dynamic has changed, and we should be asking John Mills to talk about the screening process that is currently underway in Canada today, looking at 2,500 different substances and looking to them for specific characteristics for management of those substances.
TIM SKUBICK: Do you think Canada is doing a better job than the U.S. in this regard?
GEORGE KUPER: No, I just think it's easier to explain the Canadian approach than the American approach. (LAUGHS)
TIM SKUBICK: That was a yes to my question, right?
GEORGE KUPER: No, it was not a yes, it was not.
TIM SKUBICK: No, it wasn't, oh, okay. All right, Mr. Mills, please.
JOHN MILLS: Well, I'm going…just a couple of comments, I guess, just to pick up on the train of thought. First of all, I take the point very clearly. We've chatted about and we've used the mechanism, the binational toxic strategy, as being one mechanism and its focus on the 12, the dirty dozen.
There are mechanisms in that to expand that list. Obviously, that was the first phase of it, that's one aspect, so we do have a mechanism to actually include or add to that list as we move along.
Secondly, as has been said, that's a binational activity. There are domestic activities that are complementary to that, as we in Canada are currently looking at, I think it's 23,000 chemicals, and trying to go through a massive screening exercise to determine, under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, just how... their toxicity.
And then, obviously, from that, whatever falls into that category of toxic, there will be regulatory approaches attached to it.
Let me make one other point. It isn't only a regulatory approach and it isn't only a voluntary approach that we're using. We do use a mixed... the full tool-kit of voluntary, regulatory, and incentives, to address the issues of toxic chemicals and other environmental issues...
TIM SKUBICK: What's the percentage breakdown on that? How much of it is voluntary, 80, 70, 60?
JOHN MILLS: I'm not sure I can give you that measure, because we do measure the end result. For example, we've…overall, of those 12 priorities toxics, we've reduced about 70 per cent of the input and use into the basin. Now how much of that is due to regulation versus voluntary action by industries and others, I can't give you that measure.
TIM SKUBICK: Tom, what's the U.S. track record in this regard, Sir?
THOMAS SKINNER: Gary, do you want to talk about this particular point? And Tim, I'm a little concerned because...
TIM SKUBICK: It's okay. No, I understand.
THOMAS SKINNER: And I want to let Gary answer, but we're dwelling on one very specific issue that I think…it's certainly part of a restoration plan, I mean, it has to be taken into account, but there is a whole broad range, as you have heard this morning.
TIM SKUBICK: All right, let's... Gary, tell the folks who you are and then you can take a whack at that for us, please.
GARY GULEZIAN (Director, Great Lakes National Program Office, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency): I'm Gary, I'm Gary Gulezian, I work for Tom in the Great Lakes National Program Office.
EPA has procedures that are very similar to those of Environment Canada in terms of the screening of new chemicals. And in particular right now, there's the ED stack process, the endocrine disruptor screening process, that is looking at the endocrine disrupting potential of both existing chemicals and new chemicals. So it's an issue that we are very concerned with and are working on.
TIM SKUBICK: And I want to ask, in Canada, who makes the final call on whether something is toxic or not?
JOHN MILLS: For that answer, I'm actually going to turn to my colleague. Barry Stemshorn, who is the ADM for Environmental Protection, is actually leading the exercise for this process.
TIM SKUBICK: Okay, very good. I like this when we have expert witnesses. Go ahead, Sir.
BARRY STEMSHORN (Assistant Deputy Minister, Environmental Protection Service, Environment Canada): Thank you. The exercise that John spoke of, the categorization of the 23,000 substances, we are working on that at Environment Canada for a deadline of 2006. We have to categorize them into those that need action and those that do not. So it is a federal action item.
I would also say that there is, as in the U.S., quite an effective program for new substances coming onto the market, which has been in place for a number of years.
So what we are doing with the categorization is catch-up for things that came onto the market over three decades prior to the coming into effect of the new substances regulations.
TIM SKUBICK: But who makes the final call? Who says yea or nay?
BARRY STEMSHORN: Environment Canada makes a recommendation to our minister who, in turn, makes a recommendation to a subcommittee of Cabinet, who would have the final say on whether something is listed as toxic.
TIM SKUBICK: Does industry have input on the moving toward the final say?
BARRY STEMSHORN: They would have…as part of that regulatory process, there is a consultative mechanism where industry would have an input, as would all stakeholders.
TIM SKUBICK: Right, but when the rubber hits the road, the government makes the decision whether it's toxic or not?
BARRY STEMSHORN: That is correct.
TIM SKUBICK: Okay, we have a question in here.
UNIDENTIFIED: I wanted to go back to the little exchange we had on priorities because I think it somewhat illustrates one of the problems that we have in the Great Lakes.
And clearly, we don't have the luxury of just focusing on one or two things, but I do think…and we don't have the luxury of having a czar who can just say, yeah, this is the way it is.
But I do think we need to make the tough decisions of what needs to be done today, tomorrow, next year, three years from now, what's going to take more money, what will take less money, and really be able to get together and makes those types of decisions.
I think there has probably been too much dialogue, and if everything's a priority, then nothing is a priority. So we really have to have these tough discussions on what is most important.
And for example, I think there is a complete agreement that something needs to be done immediately about invasive species. We have 163 or 164, a new one every year, why not stop the next one from coming in as opposed to having to deal with the problem?
So I think we need to come to grips, as a partnership, with this priorities discussion and really talk turkey on it.
TIM SKUBICK: All right, other questions? Yes, Sir, would you mind standing and please just step over here half a second? Thank you and I appreciate that. Here you go.
BILL SMITH (Macomb County Water Quality Board): A question on the... Bill Smith, Macomb County Water Quality Board. This touches on both the revision of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and the chemicals.
In Annex 10, Appendix 1 has a list of chemicals that were…and this goes back to 1987, when it was listed. I'm told that every year, there's about 3,600 new chemicals produced and that the agency that checks it only checks about 360 a year. Isn't that list badly in need of a revision?
TIM SKUBICK: That's what we call in our business a loaded question. Go for it. All right, Thomas, take a whack at that.
THOMAS SKINNER: The Agreement calls for a review, I think, in 2004, and, I mean, we fully intend to undertake that review. So the question is not whether the review is going to happen, the question is whether, then, the Water Quality Agreement gets opened up for modification and change. But the review is entirely appropriate.
TIM SKUBICK: But this question was is that only 300 of the what number ever he used only get... in other words, not all of them get reviewed. Is that true?
THOMAS SKINNER: Maybe we're talking a little bit across purposes here. I think the question…if the question is what's the list of toxics that are in Annex 10, obviously, as part of a review, that might be something we could take a look at, what that listing is.
The last time we did a review or a revision to the Agreement was in '87, so that's the list that was identified at that time. It's... and I'm not even sure if that's true, because I'm not sure that we actually did a change to Annex 10 at that time.
But the relationship is that the Agreement calls for a review after every third biannual report from the IJC. That's coming up next year, and we will, as the parties, the two governments, will have to undertake that review.
If in the process, there is a willingness and a desire to change what's in the Agreement, then what's in Annex 10 will obviously be looked at as part of that process.
TIM SKUBICK: Okay, does that answer your question, Sir? Take... here.
BILL SMITH: In follow-up on this, Annex 11 is monitoring and surveillance, and Macomb County is trying to get some monitoring technology to do our job, and we've been thwarted on trying to get monitoring upgrading. Fortunately, we're going to get it through the Department of Defence.
However, the whole... the Annex is monitoring... surveillance and monitoring. Precious little surveillance is being done. Surveillance, to me, means that the cops are out there watching suspected drug dealers. We don't have anybody out there watching for illegal dumping and for discharges in Lake St. Clair, and it's just not being done.
So there needs to be an active inspection process to do that, because periodically, we get long lists of discharges that we didn't know anything about. We just had one in Lake St. Clair here not too long ago.
TIM SKUBICK: Okay, anybody want to respond to that? All right, Bill, thank you. We have a young lady back here. Please, would you mind standing and tell us where you're from?
JEANNIE MICA: Good day and thank you for coming to wonderful Ann Arbor, University of Michigan, in our neck of the woods. My name is Jeannie Mica (?), I have the privilege of being the president of the Lotus Garden Club, from Monroe, Michigan, part of the Federated Garden Clubs of Michigan and America.
And there is a Senate Bill 106 that's before the U.S. House... or excuse me, the State House here in Michigan. It has already passed the State Senate and it's expected to pass the State House later this month.
And Senate Bill 106 recommends that the American Lotus, America's largest aquatic wildflower, North America's largest aquatic wildflower, be listed as the symbol for water quality in the State of Michigan.
And our Garden Club has been at this for 52 years - sorry, guys, I've only been at it 40 - but we have had a remarkable comeback with our restoration for it, with the help of a little lady called Mother Nature.
And we've received numerous state and national awards for wetlands preservation, and we're in the process of inquiring about having it de-listed in our Areas of Concern because your rules are working.
We have forged a remarkable partnership with the corporate, industrial, recreational, governmental, and private sectors of the entire Western shore of Lake Erie so that people have become cognizant of this plant, which is reflective of efforts to cleanse the water and it gives great habitat for all kinds of critters, whether they're airborne, waterborne, landborne, including the Lake Erie water snake, which is so endangered the DNR usually sneezes when you mention it and we kick them out of the way.
But with that in mind, I would respectfully like to suggest, after having been to the Great Lakes Task Force meeting in Monroe at our college - which is where this started with a simple suggestion, and State Senator Beverley Hammerstrom took it and went for it - could the IJC respectfully consider taking the American Lotus, the nelembo lutea, as a symbol for water quality for the American Great Lakes? Thank you for your time.
TIM SKUBICK: All right, shall we come up to the Commission and see what the vote is? (LAUGHS) They've had ten seconds to prepare, now who wants to take a shot at this here? Say something.
UNIDENTIFIED: We don't vote.
TIM SKUBICK: You don't vote so much... all right, here we go, over here, welcome to America, here we go. Yes, Sir, please.
DARIUS CIVEN: My name is Darius Civen, I am employed by the Health and Safety Department of the United Auto Workers, but I am here today speaking only for myself.
I'd like to ask the Commission, I think it's wonderful that we've heard from both Great Lakes United and the Council of Great Lakes Industries, but I'd like to ask the Commission whether organized labour was invited to speak in its own voice, and if not, why not?
TIM SKUBICK: All right, somebody on the Commission want to take a...? Mr. Chairman? Raise your right hand, Sir, here you go. Do you want to take it, Herb? Go ahead.
HERB GRAY: Well, organized labour's voice is welcome. We have public meetings like this and we invite people to come and speak, as this gentleman has done. And also, our commissions and boards hold public meetings and people are invited.
So if organized labour as such feels that they want to be more formally included on panels or opportunities for comment, that would be welcome.
TIM SKUBICK: Other questions from the audience? Yes, Sir, in the back. Would you mind standing again? Here we go.
ZIGGY KLEINAU: Ziggy Kleinau, Great Lakes United. In a previous report, the IJC coined the phrase of the precautionary principle, and we really have to stress the fact that the governments have to get away from their risk-based assessments because that is one thing…like, look into the effects after they have occurred.
I think it was either in the 10th or 11th Biennial Report, the IJC went a step further and said we need the reverse onus, to tell government... to tell actually industry to make sure that these chemicals that are being released are not affecting the human health and the population.
So that's what we really have to work on. The government or the IJC has to be a lot stronger in promoting the precautionary principle and the reverse onus.
TIM SKUBICK: All right, somebody want to respond to that? George, please.
GEORGE KUPER: Yeah. The precautionary principle, as embraced in the Rio accord, has done, I think, some disservice to the idea of precaution, because precaution is a very important phenomena that we all need to take in all aspects, in many aspects of our lives.
The difficulty with the precautionary principle is that if it's applied as many would have it applied, there would be zero innovation, nothing new would be tried. And this is a real problem, and intellectuals are starting to write about it, and these ideas aren't mine.
I don't know that we have a better way of looking at what we do and what we want to do than looking at it from a risk-based point of view. The problem with reverse onus from our point of view has always been that it's impossible to prove a negative, and we cannot have policy which requires us to prove a negative.
TIM SKUBICK: How does that retard R&D? I don't understand that.
GEORGE KUPER: I'm sorry, I didn't hear.
TIM SKUBICK: How does that retard R&D? People are saying, oh my God, it might be bad, and so therefore I'm not going to look into it?
GEORGE KUPER: Exactly.
TIM SKUBICK: Wow. Can you prove that?
GEORGE KUPER: I think the literature is beginning to point out examples of it, yes.
TIM SKUBICK: Okay, question here from the audience.
DOUGLAS MARKOFF: My name is Douglas Markoff, I'm a member of the public at large. My question is for the gentleman from both Environment Canada and the gentleman representing sustainable development and industry.
There are many connections between Ontario and Michigan. There are connections by land, by water, and by air. One of the connections is the transportation corridor between Ontario and Michigan.
One use of the corridor between Ontario and Michigan, particularly Toronto, is to ship... is the continual shipping of Toronto's garbage to Michigan.
This has been an issue that has been occurring over the last couple of years. Every day there are hundreds of tractor-trailers of Toronto garbage that are going to Michigan.
Now, recently, Michigan residents have been up in arms, saying that Ontario and particularly Toronto have to take care of their own garbage.
One of the ways of eliminating garbage, which Toronto has been making inroads to, is the three Rs, reducing and recycling, and doing quite a bit of that.
One other mechanism of eliminating garbage is incineration. I'd like to know whether there is any research and development occurring with industry, as a partnership between industry, Environment Canada, the province, and the municipalities, to vastly improve incineration as a viable technology which does not spew out any type of toxic chemicals, which we know is one of the main point-sources of pollution in to the Great Lakes?
JOHN MILLS: This is an area that I certainly don't have a lot of expertise on, but let me... I mean, you raise a very fundamental point. Waste management is one big issue in terms of how we manage and how we look at the issues of environmental management in the Great Lakes basin.
I am not familiar with any specific that are underway looking at incineration. I am not personally aware of that; there may be some staff in the audience that is aware of it, but I am not personally aware of it.
I guess the point that I would make, however, from an Environment Canada point of view, obviously we have a couple of things at play here. One, the purporting and advocating the three Rs is something that we try to do quite
The other issue in terms of waste, we do have some regulations in terms of the transboundary flow of waste, waste both hazardous... well, hazardous waste, but not in terms of household waste. So we're not directly engaged in that process at this time, and that's about as much as I know about the subject.
TIM SKUBICK: Mr. Mills, with all due respect, can I just ask a dumb question? Why can't you bury your stuff in Canada?
JOHN MILLS: I think, again, that's a very good question. One of the problems with whenever waste comes up as an issue, the NIMBY syndrome comes in play very forcefully, and that's been a problem not only in Ontario, but I would say North America.
TIM SKUBICK: Do you feel sorry for us here in Michigan? (LAUGHS) Next question.
UNIDENTIFIED: John, I'm going to help you out...
GEORGE KUPER: Can I respond to Mr. Markov just for a second, please?
TIM SKUBICK: Sure, go ahead.
GEORGE KUPER: Because his question is really a profound one. I just negotiated the 401 myself four times in the last ten days, and dodging amongst solid waste carriers is quite a trick, especially when one of them tips over on its way trying to make a corner and didn't do it and blocked traffic for two hours.
But the dynamic here is that we have a systemic inefficiency of huge proportions. If you think about what's going on, all the energy, all the infrastructure that's being committed to moving garbage, useless, non-value added stuff, from point A to point B, we've really got to go back and look at those incentives.
And I encourage Mr. Markov to ask his question not of me, because unfortunately, we don't represent the solid waste management industry, but ask the industry itself what the incentives are that would have them pay more attention and invest more R&D in incineration, because we agree with you that good incineration is the best way of getting rid of all that stuff.
TIM SKUBICK: Margaret?
MARGARET WOOSTER: Just want to respond from, again, the NGO point of view, and also because of this opportunity we have with sort of rethinking our strategies as we think about commonly producing a restoration agenda, that incineration, municipal waste incineration was the leading source of at least three, maybe four of those level 1 substances, mercury, PCBs, dioxin, and I think HC... hexachlorabenzine, PAHs, I'm not sure, one of the others.
Even with the perfect or the as-near-to-perfect control technologies you can put on stacks, people will tell you about the chaos of the burn and so forth, that there's no guarantee that we could ever get the kind of clean incineration that would reduce these kinds of substances in the mixed garbage of most municipal waste that would not be putting in minute amounts, but nevertheless toxic amounts of these substances.
The other problem and the other problem with all of that garbage moving wherever, it's not really…it's not a NIMBY problem, it's a problem of very poor use of materials in a world in which materials and resources are becoming ever-increasingly scarce.
And so the thinking of people on the subject, for example, of expanded producer responsibility goes beyond the three Rs, which are really important, but it's also for those producers of huge amounts of waste like cars and packaging and electronics, computers, to take those back at the end of their useful life and design so that they can be entirely recycled.
And this is what's happening in other countries like in the European Union and this is what we need to bring into the Great Lakes basin.
GEORGE KUPER: I need to respond. I'm sorry, this is an ongoing argument that Margaret and I have, and the argument is that manufacturers in the United States function in a very system than manufacturers in Europe.
In Europe, automobile manufacturers are indeed required to dispose of the product when the consumer is finished driving it. In America, we have an infrastructure of companies that do nothing but take those old junk cars and convert them into raw material for other manufacturing processes.
So we don't need to put the burden or reclamation back on the manufacturer.
TIM SKUBICK: A question here? Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED: Yeah, I just wanted to pick up on George's comment about systemic inefficiencies and the earlier statement that manufacturing is essential, and both of those seem combined with the comments over the last few days about extensive population growth in the basin.
We can expect a substantial increase in manufacturing, and at the current rate, we see it's not sustainable right now. So I'm just wondering, as a society, are we fooling ourselves in saying that we can sustain this uncontrolled manufacturing and growth?
And do we need to look at a change in social thinking about…we're into a new era where manufacturing isn't maybe our core engine and that there's other things in society, like the natural resources, tourism, environmental tourism, and other things to drive our resources, and a change in social thinking is more where we need to go.
And maybe a start for that is... and I was encouraged, too, George, that there was responsible care by the manufacturing industry, but perhaps maybe more responsible manufacturing would be helpful, too, where we're not just producing endless packaging and throwing things on the market, a lot of plastic items and things that get thrown out very quickly. Like, we need to start right there, I think.
TIM SKUBICK: Very good, thank you for your question. Go ahead, please.
JOHN MILLS: Maybe, could I make a comment on this? Just a historical perspective. I think it's important, it's a very important question.
Fifty years ago, the population of Ontario was 4.3 million people; today, it's 11.6. In that time, we have been able to, over that 50-year period, to clean, do a significant clean-up in terms of the water quality in the Great Lakes.
What all that tells me is that we as human beings are able to address the issues. I think we can address it. It does take…it does take, as you indicated, a social change and a change in thinking around how we deal with both the consumption of resources and the disposal of waste.
TIM SKUBICK: Okay, we have one final question here. Go ahead, please, I promised you, go ahead.
STEVE THORPE: I don't want to take somebody else's time here, but I just wanted to make one observation. When the woman with the Lotus Flower Club was speaking, it reminded me that the mayors applaud local initiative and grassroots activities.
They do everything in their power to extend the city bureaucracies with the power of their people to implement this. And I think once a restoration plan has been agreed to and is clearly identified, we need to somehow factor in these grassroots organizations as to how they can help implement the plan.
TIM SKUBICK: All right, question here.
UNIDENTIFIED: Yeah, I wanted to respond to what George said about having…curtailing innovation with reverse onus and producer responsibility.
I think, actually, the opposite is true, and I think much of the literature also shows that, that if you require people to show that things are harmless, we begin to learn a whole lot more about ecological metabolism and human metabolism and how chemicals function in the body, what kinds of chemicals operate as drug-like substances, and in other ways, we learn a tremendous amount.
And when we then develop chemistry and products that aren't biologically active, we produce compounds that then will be used all over the world, as everybody else faces the same problems that we face. So it's a tremendous boost to innovation, not the opposite.
TIM SKUBICK: Yes, Sir. No, George. I guess I said no, all right. Question here.
UNIDENTIFIED: What's on (?) a question?
TIM SKUBICK: All right, go ahead, quickly.
UNIDENTIFIED: Thank you for the opportunity. I represent the boating community, recreational boating community. I just wanted to inform you that among all of the users of the Great Lakes, boating, recreational boating is a big one: 5.2 million boaters do use these Lakes with an economic good of $6 billion that they spend on boating.
In the days to come, we wish to play a bigger role and be in partnerships with others and also in the management of the Great Lakes. Thank you.
TIM SKUBICK: Okay, all right, good. All right, please, would you stand? This will be the last one because we're approaching lunch.
UNIDENTIFIED: The Green Book really impressed me. It speaks for me as a citizen. I like the issues, I like your agenda for action. I like it that it's in a readable deadline, good format.
Now my question is when will our auspicious institutional arrangements, the EPA, the Canadian, the Ontario government ministry, adopt this agenda for action?
TIM SKUBICK: Is that a rhetorical question?
TIM SKUBICK: No, I didn't think it was. (LAUGHS) Okay, guys, I can give you the last word. Do you want to take a shot at that, Mr. Mills?
JOHN MILLS: The issues that are addressed in the Green Book are the issues that we do have on priority right now in terms of the Canada-Ontario Agreement.
In some respects, the devil is in the detail here. Obviously, the current COA runs to 2007; some of the targets in the Green Book go out to 2015, so we're talking slightly different in terms of timelines, and some differences in terms of emphasis.
But as I look at the Green Book, as I look at what the priority issues are in there, those are the priority issues that are identified in the... Canada-Ontario Agreement, with some exceptions. I would accept that there are some. The example that I would give is the target on phasing out nuclear plants, for example.
TIM SKUBICK: Very good. Thank you, Mr. Mills, I appreciate it. All right, two thank yous before we go to lunch. First of all, audience, you guys were very, very good. We're doing this again tomorrow. Are you available? (LAUGHS)
All right, thank you for your wonderful questions. And this round of applause is also for our wonderful panel, would you not agree? (APPLAUSE) Excellent.
And now, I have an honour to introduce to you a guy who has done about everything in Canada that you can do it short of coaching the Montreal Canadiens. Herb, would you please bring some closure to us, please? The Right Honourable Herb Gray.
HERB GRAY: Well, I'm delighted to say a few words to close this very informative and provocative session, and I've been pleased to have been able to speak with many of you over the past couple of days, and obviously we all have to be impressed by the quality of discussion that has taken place.
Now in my view, today's sessions are the heart and soul of the biannual meeting. We are fortunate to have heard this morning from top Great Lakes program managers from both the Canadian and American governments, as well as the top managers of relevant organizations concerned with the fate of the Great Lakes basin and its population. And all this has highlighted what the governments are doing to meet their commitments under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
Now I've been told that in response to Mr. Skubick's challenge, the request to the audience to list their top three Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement priorities, will be announced at the end of the day when we adjourn at 3:00 pm.
I should mention, speaking personally, that remember, this is a place for dialogue; we're not coming up with a consensus in that regard. And I personally am very interested in ensuring that we have an approach whereby we do more than one thing at a time. I think that's the only way to carryout our obligations.
I also want to remind the audience that the International Joint Commission has a mission statement and guiding principles. And one of these guiding principles are that in environmental matters, the Commission affirms the concept of sustainable development, the ecosystem approach, and the virtual elimination and zero discharge of persistent substances.
While emphasizing the importance of a sound scientific basis for its conclusions and recommendations, the Commission also recognizes that it may sometimes be necessary to adopt a precautionary approach and to act even the absence of a scientific consensus where prudence is essential to protect the public welfare.
That's in the guiding principles and mission statement of the International Joint Commission. And as someone who just celebrated the first birthday of his first grandchild, I am very interested in confirming the importance of these guiding principles.
Now after we take a short break from our lunches, we will reconvene to aware our newly-created Scientist of the Biannual Award, and then later hear from the board set up under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
And we end the day with what will be another high point, I'm sure: an open forum where we can continue this dialogue. So we will adjourn for 10 or 15 minutes while we collect the box lunches we've all signed on for, and I'll be turning the floor back to Chairman Schornack to announce our first Scientist of the Biannual Award. Thank you very much. (APPLAUSE)
DENNIS SCHORNACK (Chairman, U.S. Section, International Joint Commission): ...but before I do, I'd like to add to what my distinguished colleague said about the purpose of this award.
We created this award because the IJC wanted to emphasize the fact that science must be the key driver in our decision-making. I understand, of course, that politics and personalities are important considerations, but above all, science must be the driver and it must be sound and it must be complete.
At its core, the IJC is a science-based organization. The 300 volunteers in our IJC family include biologists, hydrologists, and ecologists, every kind of scientist you can think of.
So our goal today is to recognize and reward science, science that is making a difference and helping to speed the pace of restoring the Great Lakes.
Turning to our guest of honour, I should note that the IJC previously commended the governments of the United States and Canada for quickly and aggressively supporting the research of scientists such as Dr. Jan Ciborowski, who are studying the dead zone in Lake Erie.
Jan and his colleagues from the Lake Erie Millennium Network got onto the Lake early and they got onto the Lake often, and their findings will be fundamental to the next generation of protective and restorative measures that policy-makers need to support, not just work in Lake Erie, but in all of the Great Lakes.
Lake Erie is in effect the canary in the coal mine, giving us the warning signal that something is seriously wrong. Thirty years ago, it was the near-death of Lake Erie that sparked a new movement that led to the signing of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and the adoption of the Clean Water Act in the U.S.
Back then, it was phosphorus from detergents and other sources like wastewater treatment plants that was the problem. Now it may be a new source of phosphorus loadings linked to invasive species such as the zebra and quaga mussels.
Jan's seminal work will help us find the answer and then send us on the path to finding the solution.
When commissioners evaluated the nominees for this award, they all commented on how all of the potential awardees were doing work that deserved great recognition. Indeed, there are hundreds of scientists around the basin who are devoted to restoring the health of the Great Lakes.
So with this award, we recognize Dr. Jan Ciborowski, but we also recognize all of the scientists who share his vision for a healthy Great Lakes ecosystem.
Therefore, I am really pleased to present to Dr. Ciborowski the Great Lakes Scientist of the Biannual Award, the very first of what we hope will be a long lineage of such awards in the future. Dr. Ciborowski, could you please come up here? There you are. And I'd ask my... (APPLAUSE)
I'd like to invite up the rest of the Commission for the presentation of the Award and for the usual photo op. It seems like we've lost our symbol, though, in the back, and maybe if I just hit a key, it should pop up. Okay. I think we should probably step around in front. Dr. Ciborowski, would you like to get in the middle? (APPLAUSE) And now, Dr. Ciborowski will say a few words.
JAN CIBOROWSKI (Lake Erie Millennium Network / Professor, University of Windsor): Thank you, Chairman Schornack, thank you, Chairman Grey, and the rest of the Commission.
I really have to agree with Chairman Schornack's comments about the number of outstanding scientists there are on the Great Lakes. All of the work that we have done on Lake Erie has been a cooperative effort between everyone, and that's...
The theme of my talk today is how we can work together to come up with results, because we are really working on the largest freshwater system in the world.
Causes and Perception of Great Lakes Environmental Problems:
As concerned scientists, we work to understand and evaluate biological and environmental characteristics of the Great Lakes so that we can protect their ecological integrity and maximize their beneficial uses. The lakes are subject to so many stresses that relating individual causes and effects is a daunting task. New perturbations seem to occur suddenly, often forcing us to react to issues rather than being able to anticipate their consequences. At this meeting, we've heard about the threats of invaders (e.g., round gobies, emerald ash borer, and Asian carp), pressures on our fisheries, increased areal extent of oxygen depletion (>dead zones'), resurgences of wildlife disease (botulism), new types of contaminants (e.g., fire retardants and pharmaceuticals), and loss and degradation of critical habitats. Many of these are considered to be >emerging issues'. However, they stem from the very same set of concerns already identified in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement - eutrophication, contaminants, habitat degradation and loss, and invaders [Slide 2]. The issues aren't really new but the details in terms of ecosystem effects change over time as well as our perceptions about crises.
How do all these >sudden' events happen and seem to take us by surprise? One aspect is that such changes typically begin as anecdotes or individuals' perceptions that are difficult to communicate among the key players [Slide 3]:
- The public, who use and affect the Great Lakes' resources;
- Agencies, who are responsible for tracking and regulating key materials, and managing our natural resources;
- Researchers, who attempt to understand the processes; and
- Managers, who set and implement agency policies.
Yet, each of these groups typically operates in different spheres. Action is unlikely to be taken until an issue is recognized by all of them.
A related problem is that we as individuals don't recognize the scale over which some of the issues are operating. We can only be in one place at a time, and the magnitude of an event can't be assessed without evaluation and communication across a region.
Furthermore, small but measurable changes are difficult to recognize against an immensely variable background of environmental noise.
Lastly, many issues act concurrently, so that it's difficult to ascertain the true cause of a problem or change. We may not be sure if we're observing an effect or a symptom of some other event. It's also human nature to ascribe changes we see to the most obvious co-occurring event. The causes of many of the events we observe may only be obvious in retrospect, when we can retroactively examine data along a long time course. Retrospective examination of crises often shows that gradual changes in indicators of these effects have occurred, but were not noticed until the changes became more pronounced and widely publicized. Generally, we have been fortunate in the Great Lakes to have an excellent long-term record of monitoring data generated by our agencies. They have tried to maintain core monitoring programs (despite interrupted financial support), which often permits us to reconstruct events leading up to the phenomena that now attract our attention.
Is any single factor Athe culprit@? This problem is difficult to address because so many stresses are acting at once. A basic principle in ecology is the concept of limiting resources. Although many factors and resources are necessary for an organism, population, or community to persist, at any instant only the resource in shortest supply limits growth. An analogous situation can be said to pertain to ecosystem. Many stresses act in the Great Lakes to impair the condition of the ecosystem, but only one is >most serious' at any given time. Mitigating that stress will improve the ecosystem, but only to the point at which some other stress becomes limiting. An analogy is to think of the ecosystem as a glass or vase, and the level of water inside represents the ecosystem health [Slide 4]. Stresses act like vertical cracks in the glass through which the water leaks, each stress represented by a different crack. The level of water is regulated by the height of the bottom end of the lowest perforation. Partially sealing that leak will permit the glass to hold more water, but the level will rise only to the height of the next perforation.
A noteworthy example of the challenges of trying to interpret cause and effect can be seen by evaluating ecological phenomena against the background of changing total phosphorus levels in Lake Erie's central basin. Lake Erie is the location of some of the Great Lakes' greatest crises and success stories. Its pollution problems were recognized in the 1920s. Consequently, we have a better record of its condition through time than of any of the other Great Lakes. Phosphorus is the limiting nutrient for algae and rooted aquatic plant growth in Lake Erie as it is in most fresh waters. An excess of phosphorus can stimulate unwanted overabundance of algae and plants accompanied by low dissolved oxygen conditions known as accelerated eutrophication. In the 1960s Lake Erie was so turbid, green, and anoxic that the media declared that it was dead. At that time, total phosphorus concentrations in the central basin averaged over 20 µg/L and sometimes exceeded 30 µg/L. The goal of the clean-up efforts was to regulate phosphorus discharges to the lake through improved sewage treatment and land use practices, thereby reducing annual loadings to Lake Erie from over 25,000 metric tons/year of total phosphorus in the early 1970's to 11,000 metric tons/year. This reduction in phosphorus was believed to be sufficient to reduce algal growth in the lake and eventually result in a return to a healthy ecosystem.
Phosphorus loading reduction efforts began in the late 1970s. Data collected by both Environment Canada (Slide 3) and the US EPA were interpreted to show that concentrations of total phosphorus in the central basin water gradually declined through the 1980s. Despite large variation in measurements, mean values declined by about 0.73 :g/L/year. Yet, Lake Erie remained turbid during this time, and the western and central basins frequently became anoxic in summer.
Zebra mussels invaded Lake Erie beginning in 1988, and their abundance grew dramatically. This was accompanied by increases in Lake Erie's water clarity in the early 1990's. Other biological changes accompanied these events, including the reappearance of burrowing mayflies (Hexagenia) in many places. Continuing decline of total phosphorus in the central basin was ascribed to the filtering activities of the zebra mussels.
By 1995, Lake Erie's surface waters sometimes looked as clear as those of Georgian Bay. The >continuing process of oligotrophication' (i.e., the reversal of eutrophication) was ascribed to large populations of zebra and quagga mussels (dreissenids) removing algae and phosphorus from the water and converting it into benthic biomass. At the same time, populations of walleye and yellow perch perch were in marked decline. Some individuals argued that there was now too little bioavailable phosphorus in the lake to support the desired numbers of fish. Only incomplete phosphorus data had been compiled at that time, but the available data were commonly believed to support an argument of continuously declining phosphorus concentrations. The concerns over impending declines in the fishery stimulated a tabulation and re-examination of the data. Both Murray Charlton of Environment Canada and David Rockwell of US EPA reported on total phosphorus trends at the 2001 Lake Erie at the Millennium Conference. To everyone's surprise, the 2001 spring phosphorus levels in central Lake Erie were among the highest that had been seen in the past 10 years. Furthermore, the integrated data set showed a trend of rising values that had apparently been going on at least since 1995 - the period of apparent oligotrophication (Slide 5; 0.39 µg/L/year if extrapolated back to 1990, when zebra mussels became abundant in Lake Erie).
The last 3-4 years have seen an increase in the frequency, spatial extent, and/or duration of hypoxia in the bottom waters of central Lake Erie. It is tempting to ascribe this phenomenon entirely to rising concentrations of total phosphorus. But we must consider and evaluate other reasonable explanations too, because relationships can so easily be interpreted in different ways. Slide 7 shows Murray Charlton's total phosphorus data for central Lake Erie with selected portions of the graph highlighted to show the time intervals during which the changing concentrations were (perhaps erroneously, in retrospect) thought to reflect:
- oligotrophication due to the influence of dreissenid populations (yellow)
- further oligotrophication limiting population growth of walleye and yellow perch (green)
- returning eutrophication responsible for reappearance of central basin hypoxia (mauve).
Total phosphorus is an important measure of trophic activity in lakes. But by itself it is only a partial indicator of overall lake health. The biggest issue is that gradual changes or trends are difficult to monitor or report on when:
- they occur against a background of variable signals,
- data are collected too infrequently to show the gradual transitions of conditions, or
- samples are collected in only one place, making it difficult to tell if an event is a response to local conditions or part of a region-wide change.
Trying to understand and communicate the causes of (and solutions to) a problem like central basin hypoxia is difficult because there are different perceptions of what a >cause' is. We tend to ask,"what is responsible for the present situation?@, with the implied hope that a single strategy can solve the problem. Furthermore, we each tend to have our own >favoured cause' that reflects our individual expertise, perspective, and interpretation of the data. Oxygen depletion results from biological activity, which we summarize in terms of the food web. We have seen disruptions in the food web that we ascribe to having more phosphorus and fewer algae in the surface waters of Lake Erie than formerly or that would be predicted by our current understanding of how such a large lake behaves. But although these are the most immediate causes, they are likely results of other dynamics, such as changes in the dimensions of the hypolimnion and the distribution and cycling of the nutrients already in the lake [Slide 8]. The ultimate causes are likely the problems that we recognize are occurring concurrently in each of the Great Lakes - invaders, habitat alteration, and climate change. Most other sources of nutrient-associated stress are associated with these the fundamental issues of habitat alteration (including shoreline loss, sedimentation, diffuse source run-off, erosion), invaders (altering pathways of nutrient flow through the food web), and climate change (increased variability in the timing of seasonal events).
Cooperative Approaches to Addressing Great Lakes Problems:
We have been most successful in finding patterns and understanding the trends they represent when cooperative efforts have provided comprehensive data and diverse points of view. Successful early efforts were conducted by groups at single institutions. Since then, some of the largest advances in our understanding have been binational efforts beginning in the early 1970s with Project HYPO on Lake Erie and the International Field Year of the Great Lakes (IFYGL) on Lake Ontario. Project HYPO was instrumental in providing the background data and understanding that guided us into phosphorus reduction targets. Achieving loadings of 11,000 metric tons per year was argued to be the key to restoring water quality and dealing with the intermittent but extensive anoxic >dead' zones of western and central Lake Erie. Among many other things, the IFYGL project helped clarify the important role of meteorological conditions on lake dynamics.
Economic constraints in the 1990s resulted in severely reduced funding for Great Lakes monitoring and research. This was somewhat but insufficiently compensated for by important advances in technology (new instrumentation and remote sensing technology) and communication (evolution of computer technology and the internet). Consequently, novel efforts were made to build interactions among researchers to understand emerging problems in the face of dwindling resources for research. Specially convened region-specific symposia at meetings of The International Association for Great Lakes Research, Ohio's Great Lakes Aquatic Ecosystem Research Consortium (GLAERC) and New York's York's Great Lakes Research Consortium (GLRC) are examples. The Lakewide Area Management Plan (LaMP) process also has provided a forum for researchers and managers to address lake-specific issues. In addition, The Remedial Action Plan (RAP) approach in the Great Lakes' Areas of Concern Concern addresses ecosystem-level problems at a local scale. Clearly, we have a good history of cooperation in the Great Lakes. But we still are not obtaining sufficient understanding of the lakes, possibly because these initiatives have had only limited success in simultaneously involving all 4 groups of Great Lakes players. So I'd like to talk about a novel, recent cooperative approach - the Lake Erie Millennium Network.
The Lake Erie Millennium Network Approach:
A grassroots approach to convening meetings to address Lake Erie problems developed in the 1990s. In 1998, Jeff Reutter, Director of the Ohio Sea Grant Program and GLAERC called together U.S. and Canadian scientists who became the ad hoc Lake Erie Phosphorus Group to evaluate whether declines in walleye stocks were indeed due to low levels of nutrients, and whether this justified permitting increased releases of phosphorus from sewage treatment plants (the consensus was, "no"). Meanwhile, Murray Charlton of Environment Canada's National Water Research Institute and Russ Kreis of US EPA's Large Lakes Research Station had been regularly holding small, informal gatherings for scientists to discuss their Lake Erie research efforts. Doug Haffner at the University of Windsor's Great Lakes Institute and Gary Sprules at University of Toronto had previously organized similar groups and headed a multi-university study of Lake Erie's status jointly, funded by the Canadian Great Lakes University Research Fund. These independent efforts ultimately merged late in 1998 to become what is now the Lake Erie Millennium Network.
The Lake Erie Millennium Network (LEMN) has been an effective, lake-wide cooperative effort that has enabled scientists to learn about how the ecosystem functions, while responding to the most important management questions posed by agencies charged with implementing the goals of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement [Slide 9].
The LEMN is an informal association of academic scientists, individuals responsible for managing the resources, and those who monitor the condition of the Lake Erie ecosystem. Its goals have been to develop a framework for a binational research network that can both address management needs and understand the ecosystem. The guiding principle was that in order to receive support for research funding, a group had to have the support of those responsible for managing the ecosystem. Accordingly, our first step was to acquire support from the managing agencies. Response to the invitation to participate was immediate and positive. Organizations able to provide funding or resources to facilitate workshops and publications are recognized as Sponsors. Other organizations that provide in-kind support and the time of their representatives are Collaborators. In addition to the 4 sponsoring organizations, the LEMN presently has 13 Sponsors and 15 Collaborators from all levels of government, industry, academia, and the public [Slide 10].
The objectives of the LEMN are to
- collectively document the research and management needs of users and agencies;
- summarize the status of Lake Erie; and
- develop and implement a framework for a binational research network that can co-ordinate the collection and use of the data needed to address those research questions and management needs. The overarching themes at LEMN meetings are 'interactivity', 'informality', and 'prediction'.
The first part of the LEMN strategy was to identify the management problems facing the ecosystem as a whole [Slide 12]. We invited anyone involved with Lake Erie issues to provide a list of the problems that they identified as affecting the Lake's condition or ecosystem function. We received replies listing over 70 different issues. Representatives of each of the responding agencies were invited to a workshop where the issues were evaluated in detail. In each case, the issues were addressed from the following perspectives:
- what are they?
- is this a priority of individual agencies?
- are we tracking/monitoring them?
- do we understand them?
- can we manage them?
- can we predict future change?
Ultimately, the issues were classified as 48 items grouped under 7 subject themes for future evaluation. Each theme has become the focus of a planned or current research initiative by LEMN members.
To take stock of what we did and didn't know about these subject themes, the first Lake Erie Millennium Conference was convened in 1999 [Slide 13]. Forty-six scientists gave invited presentations on all aspects of the Lake Erie ecosystem. The 175 delegates then met in a round table forum to summarize the research needs for each of the 7 subject themes
- limits to production [at the base of the food web]
- land use issues
- other exotic species
- Other issues
- human health
- Population dynamics/exploitation of fishes [production at the top of the food web]
- System processes (diversity, stability, trophic transfer)
The next step was to clarify the research questions that needed attention by convening series of Research Needs Workshops. To date, workshops have been held to address 3 of the 7 themes [Production at the base of the food web, Contaminants, and Habitat; Slide 14]. The purpose of each workshop is to identify data needs that test specific hypotheses and at the same time provide necessary values for modelling needs [Slide 15].
The LEMN advocates using a 'strong inference' approach to defining and tackling management and research questions [Slide 16]. A series of logical steps is followed to clarify both the questions and the key data needed to answer the questions:
- Summarize the possible explanations for the phenomenon/problem;
- For each explanation, determine what unique prediction could be made that would distinguish it from the other explanations;
- Predict what should happen if explanation is correct (and/or where or when);
- Determine what other explanations could produce the same result;
- Determine what key variable(s) would change to support the prediction;
- State how large a change (X) is needed to be biologically meaningful;
- Determine how many measurements would be needed forfor"X" to be statistically significant (unlikely to have occurred by chance).
Ideally, the critical data are measurements that are already part of routine agency-sponsored monitoring programs. The key is to make predictions before the data have been collected, and to plan the location and intensity of sampling necessary to provide the critical information. These data can also be used directly in modelling efforts to anticipate the outcome of various management scenarios [Slide 17].
The strong inference approach can also be used to develop strategies for planning and evaluating the success of remediation activities. For example, habitat degradation has been argued to impair the Lake Erie ecosystem through various pressures [Slide 18], which can be ameliorated by different strategies. If we wish to assess the effectiveness of restoration or remediation strategies, we should ask some key questions before beginning the work so that we know which crucial attributes should be measured to permit us to gauge progress [Slide 19]:
- If a strategy is effective, what should happen?
("If effective, we should see the following changes: . . . . [a specific prediction]. But if ineffective, we should observe that. . . .. .[other predictions] ")
- What is the response variable of interest (what should change if restoration is successful)?
- How big a change would be meaningful?
- What else has to be measured?
- What other explanations could produce these results?
- For how long do we need to make measurements (what is a realistic time frame over which to expect the changes to occur)?
The results of various workshops and research initiatives have been reported to the LEMN membership at large binational conferences that have been held every 2 years [Slide 20]. These meetings serve to update everyone on the most recent developments and issues, and provide a forum for us to identify new needs and develop new collaborations with colleagues.
The LEMN has been successful because it has had active participation from individuals in every aspect who have a genuine concern for and commitment to Lake Erie issues.
Managers will devote resources if they are able to provide input and receive answers. Researchers participate if they
- can gain access to key data that the monitoring agencies are collecting;
- have some prospect of support with which to conduct their investigations, and
- know that their results will reach those who can influence policy.
Most importantly, we can take a longer-term view of issues and questions within the framework of an ongoing structure than would be possible by addressing only one problem at a time.
LEMN Workshop #1 - Disruption at the Base of the Food Web:
The strategy of asking questions that help us understand processes rather than just solving immediate problems put LEMN workers in the right place at the right time to take advantage of an important research opportunity provided by US EPA. In fall 1999, the LEMN had convened a Research Needs workshop to propose hypotheses that could explain the summertime depletion of phytoplankton that appeared to be more severe than could be explained by the limitations imposed by open-water phosphorus concentrations. At that time, a concern of some was that there was too little phosphorus in the water and that this was imperilling the Lake Erie fisheries. The 20 workshop participants generated a suite of possible explanations that could be tested by making the appropriate measurements.
Scientists from both US EPA and Environment Canada reported on phosphorus data collected by their monitoring program in the lake over this very same time frame at the 2001 Lake Erie Millennium Network. To everyone's surprise, the spring phosphorus concentrations in the lake had been rising, not falling as had been commonly believed. These data were so alarming that the US EPA held a meeting in December 2001 to ask Great Lakes experts what could be the possible causes of these changes. Consequently, the US EPA submitted a request for proposals to evaluate the problem of increasing phosphorus and the apparent increase in the size of the zone of central basin oxygen depletion in January 2002. The Millennium Network group was able use the recommendations of the 1999 workshop to submit a coordinated research plan. The proposal was submitted by March, and a binational collaborative effort of over 20 principal scientists was undertaken with the joint financial and in-kind support of EPA, Environment Canada, and a host of state, provincial and other agencies. The results of that research were reported at a special session of the 2003 annual meeting of the International Association for Great Lakes Research in Chicago.
The LEMN has been successful because it has attracted a broad base of individuals committed to developing linkages, sharing resources, jointly developing ideas, and working collaboratively to implement them. Because it is an open and self-assembled group, its activities are not constrained to specific policies or points of view.
Prospects for Continued Collaboration on the Great Lakes:
The Great Lakes face challenges that are both the legacy of our past actions and the result of new stresses. Any strategy that will let us anticipate changes rather than react to them will require a better understanding of the underlying processes. This can be achieved with the ongoing commitment of people like those who make up the LEMN and those who participate in meetings like the IJC's biennial meetings.
The LEMN is effective because it operates at a scale that captures the whole ecosystem but covers a small enough geographic area that all participants see the relevance to their local concerns. I suggest that a LEMN-type model adapted for the other Great Lakes would provide a framework that would bring together the critical mass of people and resources necessary to assess the unique needs of each lake. However, even if we had functional LEMN-type groups groups on each of the Great Lakes Lakes we would still need better data to work with, especially at the basin-wide scale. An overall network, such as the Ecological Observing and Forecasting Network proposed by the IJC's Council of Great Lakes Research Managers could provide the direction necessary to address issues that face the Great Lakes as a whole.
We are forced to deal with a huge number of complicated problems. Some, such as contaminant releases and phosphorus loadings have been controlled but they haven't gone away. Furthermore, new problems are building on these every day. How can we go from reacting to anticipating? We can't be everywhere at once. Consequently, regular communication, such as public meetings of the IJC, SOLEC, the Great Lakes research consortia consortia and the Lake Erie Millennium Network are critical to our becoming aware of emerging issues [Slide 21]. We tend not to respond until a problem has been experienced everywhere, by which time mitigative activities truly are crisis management. I hope that the emerging issues mentioned earlier will receive attention and a research plan is developed before they have become acute, basin-wide problems.
By thinking of the appropriate questions and predicting the values of some fundamental variables at specific times and places, we can use monitoring programs to evaluate those questions and predictions. The effectiveness of both science and monitoring efforts can be enhanced by planning the timing and placement of sample collection so that the most important questions and predictions can be evaluated. This is where recently proposed strategies such as a Great Lakes Observing System of automated buoys and remote sensors and a Great Lakes ecological forecasting system can help. Jeff Reutter of the Ohio Sea Grant Program has proposed development and deployment of a Large Lakes Observing System, a network of automated buoys that could provide simultaneous measurements at multiple locations in the lakes. Such a system can't replace the critical function of shipboard sampling for biota and many other measures of environmental condition, But it would help us detect and understand large-scale patterns as they develop and shed light on their causes and implications. Steve Brandt and the IJC's Council of Great Lakes Research Managers have proposed a plan to develop a Great Lakes Ecological Observing and Forecasting Network, which would be an example of the strong inference approach applied to understanding and solving both our current challenges and anticipating new problems that may arise from emerging issues.
Notwithstanding the need for ongoing monitoring to track conditions and research to improve our understanding, we must devote more effort to addressing the most fundamental issues. The environmental pressures we're facing now are the same ones we've known about since the 1960's. They were listed in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and are still the priorities of the IJC's Council and Boards.
- minimize our output of wastes to the water (nutrients; other contaminants);
- promote natural land buffers at the Great Lakes margins to minimize the loss of soil and nutrients from agricultural areas and discharges from our cities;
- stop the introduction and establishment of nonindigenous species, and
- (a recent addition) adjust our activities in a way that minimizes climate change.
These are major tasks, but progress must be put into context and into an appropriate time frame that acknowledges both the resources and time that will be necessary to restore the Great Lakes to their potential. We build and renovate the infrastructure of communities, transportation networks, industries, and mines in cycles ranging from tens to hundreds of years. Yet, managers, conservation and restoration groups, scientists, and others are asked to make plans and report on their environmental successes on a year-by-year basis, with 2-5 year time horizons at best. As David Lodge of the University of Notre Dame reported in his presentation at the IJC Invasive Species IJC Workshop, environmental strategies that make perfect economic sense over long time frames are argued to be untenable when evaluated over the scale of one political term or less. We need only look at the Lake Erie phosphorus data to recognize that when environmental phenomena are variable, even the greatest apparent short-term successes need to be monitored for a long enough time frame to let us rule out chance fluctuations or coincidences as the real sources of those 'improvements'.
Government-sponsored entities like the IJC biennial meetings and SOLEC serve critical functions in providing a platform for binationally sharing information, but the quantity and quality of the information and its relevance to influencing resource management and policy is dependent upon the cooperation of Great Lakes institutions and individuals. The complexity of overlapping issues affecting the Great Lakes today demands a greater level of communication and cooperation than we've previously been able to achieve. We can't address these challenges working independently. However, self-assembled cooperative networks, such as the Lake Erie Millennium Network, can play a vital and increasingly important role in the Great Lakes by identifying needs, obtaining the necessary data, and providing timely and relevant information for resource managers and policymakers.
Acknowledgements: I am honoured and indebted to the International Joint Commission for selecting me to receive the first Biennium Award for Great Lakes Science and providing the opportunity to speak on these Great Lakes issues. I thank Murray Charlton (Environment Canada) and David Rockwell (US EPA) for permission to use their data and figures. The presentation was much improved by comments and suggestions from John Gannon, Lynda Corkum, and Murray Charlton.
ALLEN OLSON (Commissioner, U.S. Section, International Joint Commission): I'm Commissioner Allan Olson, and on behalf of my IJC colleagues, Dr. Ciborowski, thank you for your remarks, but most particularly for your contributions to the science of the Great Lakes and to further our understanding of this dynamic ecosystem.
Since execution of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, citizens, organizations, and public and private leadership on both sides of the international boundary have dedicated their efforts to restoration of this magnificent freshwater resource.
Continued restoration success requires continued sound science. Your colleagues have also made significant contributions, but I believe they are as pleased as we are in selecting you to receive the first Biennial Award for Great Lakes Science.
We now return to the Biennial meeting agenda to hear from our boards. Thank you. (APPLAUSE)
IRENE BROOKS (Commissioner, U.S. Section, International Joint Commission): Good afternoon and welcome back to our Biennial Meeting. I'm Commissioner Irene Brooks and it's my pleasure to open this session.
You will now have the opportunity to hear from the boards who advise under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and to ask them questions.
The six commissioners may be the most visible part of the IJC, but we are only the tip of the IJC iceberg. In assessing the programs and progress in both countries and providing independent advice to the governments, we rely heavily on the work of our four advisory boards.
The members of these boards serve the IJC in their personal and professional capacities, which means that they provide their best judgement to us even if it differs from the positions taken from their home organizations.
I would also like to note that every board member works for the IJC as a volunteer after fulfilling the responsibility of their day jobs. The commissioners are deeply appreciative of our board members and the organizations that make them available to us.
So I invite our Great Lakes Water Quality Board to begin the discussion. And Gail, are you going to tell us where to go? (LAUGHS)
GAIL KRANTZBERG (Director, Windsor office, International Joint Commission): Could I please have the Board co-chairs, the Water Quality Board and Science Advisory Board co-chairs to my right, your left, the Air Board and Council of Great Lakes Research Managers co-chairs, for those of you who are here?
If you have paper with you, you might be more comfortable at the tables. At the tables, you may be more comfortable there. There are microphones for you at the tables to share.
I'd also like to ask that the secretaries to these boards, the staff of the Windsor office, make their way to the front to assist the boards. And if we can get the presentations up…I figured it out. Thank you, John.
I'll just say very briefly, we are…so that the board co-chairs know. I'll be introducing you prior to your presentations. The presentations will run approximately seven minutes, and I'll hold up a one minute card when you have about a minute left to go and a please conclude card when you have to conclude, and then I'll come and take the mic away from you if you don't do so.
And then I will invite questions and answers from the audience directly to the boards. We'll follow that, the commissioners will come up and we'll hand it over to Dr. Blaney, Commissioner Blaney, to run the rest of the town hall meeting.
So with that said, it is my pleasure to introduce John Mills, David Ullrich - David Ullrich is just outgoing co-chair of the U.S. section, the U.S. co-chair, but has been so engaged in the priorities up until now that between him and Tom, I think the election was…we'll have David do this presentation. So to you, gentlemen.
JOHN MILLS (Canadian Co-Chair, Great Lakes Water Quality Board): Thank you, Gail, and good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I get to now speak to you wearing a different hat. And believe me, it isn't schizophrenic, it's actually very much similar.
The Water Quality Board, under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, is the principal advisor to the International Joint Commission. And what we are going to talk to you about is the priorities that we've had in the last biennium and where we are with that.
I think, just to orientate people, the Board is made up of 20 members, equally from Canada and the U.S., from the two federal government, eight Great Lakes states, the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and we actually have one local agency representation.
There is currently one vacancy on the Canadian side of the Board and we're actively looking to have that filled.
Two years ago, the IJC asked the Water Quality Board to provide advice on a number of issues. One of those was climate change, and particularly about the implications and the impacts of climate change on the water quality, and on the achievement of beneficial uses under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and thirdly, how we could address those changes. Therefore, climate change did become one of the key…the Board's focus over the last two years.
Now as you're all aware, climate does set limits on how our ecosystem functions. It also sets limits on how humans function. And in the last few days, we've seen that through the implications of Isabel and the ability of some people to actually get to this meeting.
It also has implications on our resource availability and our use. A change in climate could lead to changes in a number of areas, in the frequency and severity of drought and floods, in water supply, in air, soil, and water quality, in the ecosystem health, in human health, and in the resource use and the economy.
Through the Board's investigation, we commissioned a white paper which provided a clear description of the issues and the impacts of climate change and how we could respond to that.
We held a workshop in late May of last year to groundtruth the findings of that white paper, and the Board's findings are really too much to cover today in the limited time available, but the details are available in the Board report, and I know a number of you probably have copies of that already.
And unfortunately, I was supposed to hold up a copy right now, but I put back mine in the suitcase and it's in the trunk of the car. So unfortunately, I don't have it.
The Board will provide advice to the Commission on four areas. One, the development and implementation of adaptation) strategies and we did in the investigation focus on adaptation as the issue we wanted to focus on.
Further research on climate impacts and adaptation, particularly around the regional and local level. The third area was the need for decision-making tools to assist decision-makers.
And the fourth and concomitant, I guess, area was the need for communication and outreach related to the issues so that there is a better understanding by all basin residents around the issues of climate change.
The next step regarding the climate change, we did hold a Board meeting on Thursday afternoon and we did discuss sort of where we're going with that, and particularly the linkages to some of the other issues that we're going to be looking at, like land use, like exotics, and the issue of its relationship to human health.
We will be, over the next little while, in preparing for the semi-annual, providing advice to the Commission in terms of where we think those issues should go so that the Commission can then take that into the priorities for the next biennium.
And with that, I'm going to hand it to hand it to my colleague, Dave Ullrich, to chat about our other priority.
DAVID ULLRICH (U.S. Co-Chair, Great Lakes Water Quality Board): Great, thank you, John. I guess, co-chair emeritus may be an appropriate title.
Remedial action plans, part of Annex 2, I think most of you are aware are the real engines for the clean-ups on the Great Lakes. And part of what we did was to take a look at the engine - the question of whether or not it might need a new engine can wait for the review of the Agreement - but we needed to determine whether or not the engine needs a tune-up.
Some of the specific things that we looked at in connection with the remedial action plan process and really moving in the direction of this is that support to the public action committees or the remedial action plan groups is critical and that support needs to be there. I think the parties and state and provincial governments are the primary sources of that. That is critical.
Secondly, local leadership is very, very important. I think we saw in our opportunity to visit some of the areas of concern - and as you see, particularly Hamilton Harbour and Detroit area - we had some excellent examples of local leadership, and that translates into real action on the ground and in the water. In places where the leadership isn't as strong, there needs to be help in developing that.
Thirdly, target setting is critical. We can never get to our goals if we don't know where they are or what they are, and we can't measure our progress. It's very difficult looking at the beneficial use impairments to come up with what are the goals, so help needs to be done in setting those targets.
Funding is always an issue, and it's hoped that the restoration legislation and other things can provide more funding.
And then finally, as you have heard about in earlier seminars, federal and state assignees, liaisons, real people with phone numbers and desks and jobs, who can help the local communities in the remedial action planning and implementation process, are critical.
So those are some of the key things that we looked at. Next, moving to Lake Erie, Dr. Ciborowski has provided excellent context, as well as the discussions yesterday afternoon.
Clear indicators that there are continuing problems: the expanded hypoxia, the algae blooms. We've got dead fish and birds from type E botulism that are washing up on the beaches. And the total phosphorus levels, as we saw just recently, are going up. Clear indicators that there are a problem.
There are suspects out there, climate change being one of the key ones, with the warmer air and the warmer water. Secondly, a real question about what the phosphorus loadings are that are coming into the system. And third, the big one, with the invasive species, whether it's the zebra or quaga mussels or the round gobe.
The problem is we don't have a smoking gun or a smoking gobe or anything yet. And as a scientist told us yesterday, they really are not at a point of having a high enough degree of confidence as to what is the real culprit.
But I would say that the policy-makers really need to know at what point there is sufficient confidence in the science to start making the policy decisions, and the hope is that it is sooner rather than later.
If you haven't heard enough about these topics, I command your attention to the Priorities Report and the Climate Change Report. There has been a lot over the last four days, but if you're thirsty and hungry for more, there is plenty more to read.
Finally, in terms of priorities, there are a key list of things that have been developed by the commissioners in collaboration with all of the boards, such things as Water Quality Agreement review, invasive species, land use and urban issues, and the RAPs and LaMPs, and those will all be considered in the near term, and I do believe that the commissioners are seeking input from the broader public on the priorities in the near future.
So thank you very much.
GAIL KRANTZBERG: Thank you very much, David and John. Without any further delay - and ladies and gentlemen, there will be time for questions of all of the boards - I'd like to introduce to you Drs. Isobel Heathcote and Michael Donahue, co-chairs of the Great Lakes Science Advisory Board, Isobel on the Canadian side and Michael on the U.S. side.
MIKE DONAHUE (U.S. Co-Chair, Great Lakes Science Advisory Board): Thank you very much, Gail, and good afternoon. As Gail mentioned, my name is Mike Donahue, I am the U.S. Co-Chair of the Science Advisory Board.
And on behalf of all of our membership and my fellow co-chair, Dr. Heathcote, we're pleased to have this opportunity to participate in this Biennial Forum and share with you a little bit of background on what our own priorities are, what our activities have been, and what our recommendations have been to the Commission.
I don't plan to introduce the members individually, since we already did that at our Science Advisory Board public meeting this past Thursday. However, I would ask that any members present here today please stand up so they can be recognized, any Science Advisory Board members in the crowd. (LAUGHS) Okay, Jay's on the hot seat.
I was going to say that I was going to do that for the benefit of the audience and for my benefit, because I'll toss the difficult questions out there, so Jay, you better be prepared.
With that, I'll turn things over for the first part of the presentation to Dr. Isobel Heathcote. Isobel?
ISOBEL HEATHCOTE (Canadian Co-Chair, Great Lakes Science Advisory Board): Thank you, Mike. I'd like to start by clarifying the role of the SAB under the Agreement, and as the slide shows you, it's to advise the Water Quality Board and the Commission on the scientific basis of Great Lakes policy.
Full details of the SAB role are contained in the Agreement, in the back of the document, in a section entitled Terms of Reference for the Joint Institutions and the Regional Office.
Scientific knowledge is of course not only important for understanding the state of the Lakes in order to use and manage the resource, but it also forms the basis for binational cooperation between the two countries in support of joint priorities, policies, and programs. Such joint activities are the key to progress under the Agreement.
The SAB performs its role through the voluntary efforts of 18 eminent scientists, nine from each country, who are appointed by the Commission in their personal and professional capacities.
Current U.S. members are listed here, and as you can see, they're drawn mainly from universities in the basin, but also include scientists from government and industry.
MIKE DONAHUE: And similarly, the Canadian members are also drawn from universities, from government, and from the private sector. Our board is multidisciplinary, that is members have expertise in natural, physical, and social sciences.
And within the Board structure, there is a substructure of workgroups that are organized to provide kind of an effective division of labour and expertise to our work, and this is reflected in the various chapters of the 2001 to 2003 Priorities Report. And our three workgroups are workgroups on ecosystem health, on parties implementation, and on emerging issues.
And the Board functions as the oversight group. We manage the activities of our workgroups, we conduct regular meetings, and we advise the Commission through its process of consensus recommendations.
So with this next slide, we're going to start talking a little bit about some of the priorities we've been involved in. And for example, with the mercury priority, our Board collaborated with the International Air Quality Advisory Board in terms of overall planning for a major workshop that we held this past February to address the priority.
Our workgroup on ecosystem health was the lead group within the Board that designed the program and, along with the invited mercury experts, developed the consensus statement from the workshop that was endorsed by the Board in the Priorities Report that you've all had access to.
To summarize briefly, there is a need for better emissions information, continued emissions reduction efforts, and better understanding of human health effects among high-intake consumers of Great Lakes fish, in order to effectively manage mercury in Great Lakes waters and to reduce its impact on human and ecosystem health.
ISOBEL HEATHCOTE: With regard to the priority on the impact of urbanization on Great Lakes water quality, we all know, of course, that most of the basin has now been transformed from a natural and agricultural landscape to an extensive urban and suburban built environment.
As a result of this, thousands of hectares of impervious surfaces in parking lots, highways, and rooftops now direct runoff to storm sewers and urban streams in the basin.
Such runoff carries non-point-source pollutants directly to the aquatic environment and causes sewage treatment plants to be bypassed during extreme storm events.
The scale of this particular problem is immense and exacerbated by the existence of urban sprawl. It's estimated, for instance, that 3.3 million people will be added to the major city regions of Chicago, Milwaukee, Duluth, Toronto, Windsor, and Collingwood, by the year 2020.
Sprawl is a term to indicate that the size of a developed area is growing faster than the local population. That's indicating unplanned or unrestricted growth.
Along with sprawl, of course, dramatic increases in vehicular use within these areas in turn places increasing demands for hard surfaces, termed by one expert to be car habitat.
We need a better understanding of this urban impact on water quality and to identify ways to mitigate the negative effects of urban development, especially transportation choices and their relationship to land use and, ultimately, water quality.
MIKE DONAHUE: The last of our three priority activities is that of emerging issues. And I must say, in my experience with the International Joint Commission, it's really the only institution of its kind that I am aware of in the Great Lakes or elsewhere that takes such a studied and structured approach to emerging issues.
And having been a past member of that workgroup, I can say that it's quite enjoyable sometimes to sit down and think great thoughts about what's just over the horizon that we haven't seen quite yet. It's a critical important function and something that's all too seldom pursued.
We... this topic of emerging issues comprised a major workshop held in February of this past year, and we took a comprehensive view of future challenges, beginning with a visioning discussion to stimulate future thought processes.
We had sessions on new non-chemical stressers, new chemicals, new effects, changing ecology, and new policies, among others. And a few of the findings and recommendations from the workshop are as follows.
We found that long-term objectives for recovery are necessary to achieve future progress. We found that institutional effectiveness is impeded by the absence of long-term goals and strategies, among a multitude of agencies and organizations.
We felt that among basin residents, a renewed sense of purpose and shared purpose is needed, and that greater integration of science and policy is needed if we're to sustain progress under the Agreement.
We discussed the need for major reinvestments in scientific infrastructure for monitoring and to develop the capability for ecosystem forecasting that we need.
And one key policy recommendation that was already discussed today is that the parties conduct a comprehensive review of the operation and effectiveness of the Agreement and seek public input with a willingness, if deemed necessary, to revise it to reflect a current vision of water quality goals, priorities, and institutional arrangements.
This is a recommendation that reiterates a recommendation the Board made back in its 1995-97 report. At that time, frankly, I think we were something of a voice in the wilderness, and my sense from today is that that is no longer the case.
And with our next slide, we might have…okay, here we go. The Commission has identified several topics for potential attention over the next biannual cycle. The Science Advisory Board will be involved in the scientific aspects of all of these and will likely have a lead role in three of them.
Beginning with human health, the focus will be to assess the risk factors associated with water-borne pathogens and new chemicals that are emerging as potential pollutants of concern.
And I think... Isobel, I guess you're going to follow up on the next ones.
ISOBEL HEATHCOTE: I'm following up. All right, we're planning also to continue our work on identifying the impacts of urban land use on water quality.
And in particular, we're proposing to assess the effectiveness of local land use management tools and practices in relation to the policies of senior governments. In particular, the linkages of land use, transportation, air quality, growth management, and climate change, are the most relevant in terms of the outcomes of local decision-making.
As well, there is opportunity to apply what we learned during such a review to develop a terms of reference for a PLUARG - now, for those of you that were not at our land use workshop, that's pollution from land use activities reference group, the major activity of the Commission in the 1970s - but terms of reference for another study like PLUARG, integrating the whole basin, to assess its total impact of urbanization on Great Lakes water quality.
MIKE DONAHUE: The final item, as noted here, has to do with advice regarding review of the Agreement. And I should note that the Science Advisory Board, since its inception, has been providing advice to the Commission on the review of the Agreement over time, such as with review of Annex 1 during the 1999 to 2001 time period and reflected in that report.
Sound science is the foundation of the Agreement. It always has been, it always needs to be. And along with the institutional arrangements provided for in the Agreement and governance provisions that provide for binational cooperation and coordination, we believe that there's many strong aspects to the Agreement that many not require any revision at all.
So our challenge is really to identify those aspects that do not require revision first, along with provisions that may need updating.
And having the benefit of the most current scientific information and knowledge will be extremely important in providing sound advice to the Commission, and our board certainly intends to play a strong role in that capacity, especially given the broad range of expertise available by its members and its workgroups.
ISOBEL HEATHCOTE: Thank you, Mike. That concludes our brief remarks today, and we are certainly pleased to respond to any questions you may have in the discussion period following these presentations. Thank you.
GAIL KRANTZBERG: Thank you very much, Isobel and Mike. I'd like to now introduce Dr. Harvey Shear and Dr. Steve Brandt, the co-chairs, Canadian and U.S. respectively, of the Council of Great Lakes Research Managers.
HARVEY SHEAR (Canadian Co-Chair, Council of Great Lakes Research Managers): Thank you, Gail. I am going to be giving the presentation on behalf of the Council, but Steve is here as well to answer any questions. And I felt like standing up, since I have been sitting for the last three days, so I hope you don't mind.
On behalf of the Council, I am not going to expect you to read all of these names, but we have 23 members on our council right now, 11 Canadian, 10 U.S., and we have two binational representatives, as you can see at the bottom, if you can read that: one from the International Association for Great Lakes Research and one from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. So we're a bit unique in that regard.
We've got an expertise that ranges from water quality, traditional water quality, water quantity, wildlife, economics, engineering, fisheries. And the members on the Council represent…they are individuals who are responsible for managing research programs of one sort or another.
Our mandate is to provide advice - it's slightly different than the SAB - to provide advice to the Commission on research programs and needs, as opposed to science in general.
As you can see, the Council was created in the mid-'80s to provide the Commission with leadership and guidance and support in evaluating the myriad of Great Lakes research programs, specifically as applied to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
And we provide, I think, a very excellent forum for exchange of ideas regarding various aspects of Great Lakes research management.
Over the last few years, since I have been associated with the Council, we have developed a series of scoping papers on a host of different issues, from land use to endocrine disruptors and personal care products, we've produced a paper on Great Lakes groundwater and the effects of climate change on groundwater. And as you'll see in a moment, we're going to be focusing in on research strategy.
Some of our achievements over the last couple of years. At the Managing Shared Waters conference last year in Hamilton, we co-sponsored a session on aquatic invasive species. And we kind of continued that theme, we had a very excellent session on Thursday…sorry, Friday, yesterday morning, on the same topic here in Ann Arbor.
In August of 2002, we completed and posted on the IJC website a very, I thought, excellent evaluation of the International Association for Great Lakes Research conference in 2001 in Green Bay.
We hired students to sit in on every session and take notes and provide us with a summary. That was then digested, if you will, and a summary of that is available on the IJC website.
And we think probably doing that every two or three or four years is an excellent way of sounding out the Great Lakes community on emerging issues.
One of the activities that we sponsor is a Great Lakes science vessel website. These are the research vessels in the Great Lakes that carry out our research, and there's a website and a conference that we hope to organize and sponsor.
We redesigned the website, it's quite popular. There's a lot of exchange of information amongst the captains of two of those vessels.
At 2002 - I take my other hat off; I'm Co-Chair of the State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference - the Council hosted an excellent session looking at physical, chemical, and biological indicators of groundwater quantity and quality. It was held in Cleveland.
And the parties are continuing work and will be coming forward with some information, data, reports, on groundwater at the upcoming State of the Lakes Conference in Toronto in 2004.
We sponsored our seventh vessel workshop in Windsor in March and we'll be sponsoring our eighth next April... February, sorry, February, in the U.S.
One of the activities that we've been involved in for a number of years has been a Great Lakes research inventory. It started out as a paper inventory back in the early '90s, and with the advent of the Internet and so on, we have put it up online.
And thanks to the incredible work of Mark Burrows and company, they have totally revamped this site, made it much more user-friendly. We can have research scientists or project managers at their desk input individual projects into the database.
And I believe with the input of some recent projects from the National Water Research Institute, we'll be over 600. I'm not sure what that represents in terms of the total amount of research going on in the Great Lakes, but it's certainly a significant fraction of that.
And if you're interested in looking at the kind of research that's going on, you can click on the website and follow the link and you'll see some very excellent work. It's searchable by country, by principal investigator, by subject, by just about anything you want. It's an extremely user-friendly activity.
I mentioned the vessel coordination effort. As we've said, we've held workshops every year since '97, we've got an action plan, there's a listserv and a lot of traffic going back and forth in that regard, equipment sharing, vessel sharing where that's appropriate, basically coordinating the resources.
And I think this is going to be more and more important as we move into the future with, in some regards, diminishing resources despite what we saw this morning with billions and billions of dollars, but that's, in a sense, potentially earmarked for restoration. But I think research budgets and monitoring budgets are relatively finite, and sharing resources is important.
What we're looking at for the future. The Council has discussed over the last few months, and on Thursday, we had a meeting, of developing a Great Lakes research strategy, and this is essentially our priority for the next biannual cycle.
Developing a long-term... we may argue over whether it's 5, 10, 15, 20 years, but certainly a fairly long-term basin-wide strategy on how to organize and carry out research on a large scale.
We want to look at a case study, large-scale, multi-agency, multidisciplinary case study. There are a number of examples around. Jan Ciborowski is working Lake Erie Millennium, the International Field Year for the Great Lakes back in the early '70s was an example.
And we might look at doing an expanded version of that, something to get to groundtruth research study and show that you can in fact have a long-term strategy but it's not just a piece of paper, that it can be implemented and carried out on a large scale and as a realistic way to do business.
We also are going to have a workshop on Great Lakes observation and ecosystem forecasting, and Jan mentioned a little bit of that. We have the technology now to collect real-time data on a variety of different parameters.
And if you remember the model that Jan showed you, one of the boxes there was monitoring. If we don't have data, we can't drive any models, we can't provide information on indicators, we can't drive policy decisions.
So I guess we're not planctivores or piscavores, we're datavores, to quote Joe DePinto. We need data. And there are ways of doing it that are perhaps more cost-effective for certain parameters.
We still have ships out there, but there may be other ways of collecting data on real-time. And we want to investigate that, look at the new technologies that we have, and also look at how to forecast.
We can forecast the weather reasonably well - John's probably going to criticize me for commenting on weather forecasting - but we can forecasting reasonably well two or three days out. How do we forecast changes in the ecosystem?
That's something we need in terms of trying to manage the system. I think if we can't forecast what's likely to change, then our management efforts are going to be in vain.
So we're going to be holding a workshop, probably a multi-day workshop on that subject, within the next biannual cycle. Thank you.
GAIL KRANTZBERG: Thank you, Harvey. And finally, we go to the International Air Quality Advisory Board. Dr. Gary Foley will be presenting on behalf - he is the U.S. Co-Chair - on behalf of that board. Gary?
GARY FOLEY (U.S. Co-Chair, International Air Quality Advisory Board): Well, thank you. Pleased to be here to talk to you. The International Air Quality Advisory Board not only works on the Great Lakes, but also looks at air pollution and atmospheric deposition issues across the entire U.S.-Canadian border.
The membership of the Board is very diverse, covering policy and science, from control technology through atmospheric sciences through the effects of air pollution on humans and ecosystems.
The members come from the federal government, from state and provincial governments, and from academia. It's a small but very effective board.
Over the several decades that the Board has been together, it became very apparent to us that long-range transport of air pollutants was an issue that was affecting the Great Lakes.
During the 1990s, we actually tried to establish what the airshed of the Great Lakes was. And for many of the persistent toxic substances which had atmospheric lifetimes of three to five years or even longer, we found that the airshed of the Great Lakes covered most of North America and sometimes even transoceanic areas.
We set out in the late 1990s to develop tools to allow policy-makers to understand the implication of long-range transport of persistent toxics to the Great Lakes. And I'm going to talk about our mercury tool here.
At previous biannual meetings, we presented similar tools for dioxins and furanes, for cadmium, and for atrozene, to show that there were many substances that could be used.
For mercury, you can see here, for the U.S. and Canada, how diverse the sources of mercury to the atmosphere are, covering a very large region.
We're currently working with the Commission on Environmental Cooperation also to get emission sources characterized for Mexico, to complete the picture here.
What we developed in the way of a tool, we have the mercury coming from each county or political jurisdiction shown here. Now how much of that mercury coming out of each of these counties or political jurisdictions reaches the Great Lakes?
In the next map, we show what the tool produces. This is a map which shows for, county by county, how much of the mercury reaches Lake Superior.
Okay, so the counties that you see shaded in red or dark orange are contributing the most amount of mercury that is deposited from the atmosphere to Lake Superior.
So you can see that the airshed of mercury deposition to Lake Superior is fairly large, with counties all over the U.S. and Canada, although they tend to be concentrated more in the middle... in the Midwest.
If you look at Lake Ontario, by contrast, you see a much smaller airshed for Lake Ontario. The sources tend to be more concentrated closer to the Lake as we do the modelling. This is because of the magnitude of the sources and also the prevailing winds that we have used in this tool.
So with this tool, policy makers can look at what the impacts are of mercury being transported long-distance from the atmosphere into the Lakes and build these into the strategies to reduce the levels of mercury in the Lakes.
This is the work that we have been doing for the last two years, completing this tool for mercury. If we look at the work that we're going to be undertaking in the future, it involves completing the verification of the model, trying to add the Mexican components to the model.
We're also interested in seeing if we can link with watershed models to try to put the atmospheric mercury in perspective with the other sources of mercury to the specific lakes.
We support the other boards that work on Great Lakes. We intend to be involved in the work of the other boards on land use, on climate change, and on human health activities, so we bring in the expertise from the atmospheric sciences, air pollution policy, and health and ecosystem effects, into the work of the other boards and work together as a team. So thank you.
GAIL KRANTZBERG: Thank you, Gary. Just by way of process, I promise I will not be like Tim Skubick, I couldn't possibly repeat that. So if you do have questions of clarification or questions of areas of emphasis, of study, of proposed priorities, of findings from the boards, now is the opportunity. We'll have between about now and 2:00. So do we have ay questions for the boards, any of the boards? Yes?
RICHARD MICA (Lake Erie Clean-up Committee): Richard Mica, Lake Erie Clean-up Committee, Monroe, Michigan. I am addressing the Great Lakes Science Advisory Board having to do with emergency issues... emergency, probably, but emerging issues.
Is there a body within the IJC scope of operations that oversees the activities of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers...
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UNIDENTIFIED: ...Clean Water Act and the Fisheries Act. We know the source of almost 75 per cent of invasions to the Great Lakes: ballast water discharge from a handful of ocean-going ships.
This is a critical point that Great Lakes United wants to be very critical…clear on. We are recommending an examination of whether the handful, the relative handful of ocean-going ships that are permitted access to the Great Lakes should be allowed to discharge their ballast.
We are not recommending prohibiting discharges from domestic or regional carriers, which make up the bulk of shipping on the Great Lakes, as they are not the source of the problem.
But rather, we are recommending examining whether ballast discharge should be prohibited during the 500+ ocean ship entries made a year, and these entries are made by less than 275 ocean-going ships, until proven technology is placed onboard ocean-going ships to protect the Great Lakes.
So in conclusion, the recommendation from Great Lakes United is this: those few ocean-going ships accessing the Great Lakes should be prohibited from discharging dirty ballast under existing federal authorities in the Clean Water Act and Fisheries Act, protecting the Great Lakes and in turn fresh waters across North America, until national or international approaches set standards and implement proven technology onboard ocean-going ships. Thank you very much.
JACK BLANEY: Thank you very much for your submission, and yes, we would be very... we'd be pleased to have your written comments. There are more cards, by the way. There are…yes, here we are, they're coming. So, if you wish, a card to put your name on and to put yourself as a speaker, please do so, get one of those cards.
The next speaker is Edith Chase. And the person after that will be Saul, of Detroit, Saul of Detroit.
EDITH CHASE: Edith Chase, from Ohio, and I've worked on Lake Erie issues. These are my personal comments rather than for the organization. And I just wanted to thank everyone here for the excellent presentation and results of their good work over the past biennium.
Regarding the IJC's potential priorities for 2003 to '05, all of the issues proposed are important. We should review the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and then see whether it needs to be re-opened.
My personal priorities would be, first, to protect human health, and second to restore ecosystem health of which humans are a part. We all need to work together toward our agreed-upon goals.
We need to invest in Great Lakes restoration. The Lakes will pay us back many fold in terms of improved human health, improved property values, increased recreational opportunities, economic development, and quality of life.
The financial resources to accomplish this are limited, but clean water is a limited resource in any specific time and place. When setting priorities, my advice is don't try to stop a waterfall at the bottom.
Go back to basic principles. Pollution prevention. For example, if we clean up the contaminated sediments, you'll have to just do it again and again unless we stop the pollution where it started. Source reduction. Precautionary principles. Polluter pays. Identify root causes. No irreversible adverse impacts. Evaluate a broad range of alternatives. Stop externalizing costs. Resource conservation. And look at demand-side management as well as supply-side management.
For example, if we work to prevent mercury and PCBs to getting into the food chain, then people can catch and eat all of the fish they want from the Great Lakes. Then we can come to the next IJC biannual meeting and really have a big party and celebrate. Thanks. (APPLAUSE)
JACK BLANEY: Thank you, Edith. The next speaker... I was told if I said Saul, Detroit, Saul would know who he is. Saul Simulinis (?), have it got it right, Saul?
SAUL SIMULONES: My name is Saul Simulones (?) and I am from Alliance for Democracy and Detroit River Remedial Action Council.
And I would say that the biggest problem facing the water quality issues in the Great Lakes is the permittee writes his own permits. It would be like the cop is giving the permit to the crook how much he can steal and report to him how much more he had stolen.
So actually, the water quality we have seen is going down because…why is phosphorus increasing in Lake Erie? Because it's being discharged through the permits which are not being watched and they go forward.
I am not talking just theoretically because the Detroit wastewater treatment plant permit is coming up now. Our new governor made sure that there would be no public comments about it and it would have to go to courts.
And I have been to courts and I have stopped some permits all the way to the Sixth Circuit Court in Cincinnati. But that's a big burden. It's too big a burden to citizens.
What is the government doing here? I have low regard for the Michigan government, for United States government, in issuing those permits.
Now I know that the International Joint Commission doesn't have the executive power, but it has a moral power. It used to publish reports which we could have... which we used in the past, science reports which had some real good data, like who discharges how much phosphorus into the Great Lakes. We don't have that anymore.
So let's reconstitute the Science Advisory Board, that it would not be just social comments, that (inaudible)...great, best or something. That doesn't mean anything. Let's have those staples, let's have real figures.
So what I am asking from International Joint Commission is... not to the Commission... a science effort to really strengthen it and then demonstrate why the waters are going bad.
As a matter of fact, one of the permits that was going to be issued which was stopped by me was an air…an incinerator which had no pollution control devices.
Michigan said, well, they don't need it. But the judges said yeah, they need them. Then they decided not to build that incinerator. So it should be not like this. Thank you.
JACK BLANEY: Thank you. (APPLAUSE) Cheryl Minifield. Is Cheryl here? The next... well, Cheryl might arrive. The next speaker is Ann Mahan. And the one after that is Molly Flanagan.
ANN MAHAN: I'm Ann Mahan and I am here representing myself. I am a writer and author of a couple of books on the Great Lakes.
I have been attending IJC meetings since Traverse City in 1991 and so my comments are coming from that perspective. There's always a lot of positive things that come out of these meetings and that continues today, but I wanted to share some concerns I have about a few trends.
One of them I'm surprised to see only an hour set aside for public comment. That's not how it's been before, and sometimes the public comments are some of the most powerful parts of the whole meeting.
Another thing I've noticed is the language seems to be changing. I keep hearing talk about reducing and diminishing persistent toxic substances, but rarely do I hear the term zero discharge anymore, not until Great Lakes United got up and also Commissioner Grey.
But other than that, zero isn't... I just don't hear it here anymore. And this is from the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement; it's not a radical idea coming from the public. It's the philosophy adopted for the control of inputs of persistent toxic substances according to the Agreement.
I'd like to see more emphasis put on the principle of reverse onus. I was glad to hear the discussion today. But that was endorsed by the IJC in the fifth Biannual Report.
In the sixth Biannual Report, the IJC suggested that we need to set a target date for ending point-source discharges of persistent toxic substances.
They also recommended that timetable be established to sunset the use of chlorine and chlorine-contained compounds, as industrial feed stocks, and ways to reduce or eliminate other uses should be examined.
And I don't hear these ideas being discussed anymore, but we didn't do them.
And when you consider the cancer, endocrine, reproductive, and developmental effects from exposures to even minute amounts of these persistent toxic substances and the compounding effect of the mixtures that exist in our environment, it's really a concern.
Simply reducing and diminishing these pollutants isn't enough. And the whole idea of sunsetting chlorine was to reduce the input of an entire family of these compounds, the organo-chlorines, that were such a huge part of the problem.
In 1991, in Traverse City, Dr. Jack Valentine was co-chair of the Science Advisory Board, and he incidentally - for any of you who aren't familiar with him - was the one who originally discovered that it was phosphorus in Lake Erie that was causing the algal blooms back when it was first the problem.
He was speaking of neural behaviour effects of persistent toxic substances to the IJC and he said, and this is a quote: "The evidence suggests that these chemicals may be whittling away the innate potential within our species to learn and think." And end quote.
And that's where I feel a sense of urgency. When Tim Skubick asked me today what I was, you know, what my fear was, I guess that's really part of my fear, is that this is something really serious.
This is something that we should be feeling a sense of urgency about, and you know, I don't feel it the way I did 10-12 years ago when I come to these meetings.
And I would say I'm really convinced that in this country right now, if terrorists came in and put these chemicals into our water and food, we would be immediately in action. But we're doing it to ourselves and it's the same effect, and we really need to think about that carefully.
So the only way to solve it in the long run and to get out of the quagmire of endless clean-ups is to stop putting these persistent toxic chemicals in the environment at all. And as a society, we can make the decision to do this.
And in your position, you are really in a unique and powerful position to make a big difference in this world, and so I encourage you to please be bold, be active, be energetic, bring new life and energy to the concept of zero discharge, reverse onus, and the precautionary principle, and renew the call to sunset chlorine, encourage the use of alternative technologies because there are those alternatives already available to us for things such as chlorine use in pulp and paper and in incineration and those sort of things. Thank you.
JACK BLANEY: Thank you very much. (APPLAUSE) Commissioners and Board members may comment, but we're going to use the time available first to hear from those who wish to speak. And then if there is time left... this is the time for the audience. Is that fair? Fair. Molly Flanagan? And is Cheryl Minifield here? Okay. Well, you... Molly and then Cheryl.
MOLLY FLANAGAN: Good afternoon. My name is Molly Flanagan and I work for the Ohio Environmental Council. We're a state-wide non-profit group doing environmental work throughout the state and do some particular water work in the Lake Erie basin.
The Great Lakes are one of the natural wonders of the world. They are integral to our ecology, providing habitat for our fish and wildlife; our economy, supporting business, industry, and tourism; and our very way of life here in the Great Lakes region. They are a world-class region and I believe that they deserve world-class protections.
This weekend, we have talked a lot about the need for more research, more funding, and restorations for the Great Lakes. We have several unique opportunities to restore, protect, and improve the Great Lakes right now, and I would like to briefly touch upon two of them.
One important opportunity we heard about this morning and we've been hearing about for a while is the Great Lakes restoration legislation that could provide much-needed funding for restoration of the Great Lakes.
Another opportunity is the negotiations currently being undertaken by the Council of Great Lakes Governors to create binding standards that would implement Annex 2001, putting into a place a water management system for the Great Lakes.
These are incredibly important opportunities for protection Great Lakes water quality and water quantity. I would encourage everyone in this room to follow the process of the Great Lakes restoration legislation and Annex 2001 standard negotiations and to become involved.
I hope that individuals, organizations, and agencies at the local, state, regional, federal, and binational level will get excited about these opportunities and take part in supporting these efforts where they can, pushing them as far as they can be pushed.
Your voices are important and they need to be heard. Please take advantage of these opportunities to improve the Great Lakes ecosystem. We cannot afford to wait any longer. We must act now to protect and restore the Great Lakes. Together, I believe that we really can restore the greatness. Thank you. (APPLAUSE)
JACK BLANEY: Thank you. Cheryl, and then after Cheryl, Don Brown.
CHERYL MINIFIELD: Thank you very much. My name is Cheryl Minifield and I am a member of the Lake Erie Lake-wide Management Plan and I am an employee at the Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant.
And what I'd like to talk to you today about is the problems facing the Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant: the bad decisions, the poor choices, and the lack of oversight in respect to the processes that are going on at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.
In the beginning of the 20th century, when the IJC formed, one of the needs it wanted to address was the need for Detroit to have a sewage treatment plant. The question today is, in 2003, where is the oversight of the Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant NPDS permit?
There is a need for oversight of the application for the permit as well as the decisions as to what processes are implemented at the Plant. The company, Minergy LLC, was granted a permit by DEQ, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to burn our sludge without the proper emission controls.
Minergy stated that they would reduce carbon monoxide emissions. They would also increase production of dioxins. It was not until the citizens cried out and paid a high price for it, along with their jobs being threatened, that Minergy backed off.
Citizens' request for citizen's oversight for Minergy's emissions testing was denied by U.S. EPA. I hold an Executive MBA in Management with over 20 years of experience at the Detroit Plant and cannot get promoted. It appears that there are no environmental watchdogs.
The recent Department of Water and Sewage Department application for its permit submitted in June 19th, 2003, has blatant fictional data. It states that their treatment plant does not discharge total PCBs at all.
U.S. EPA's quantification level for total PCBs is 0.001 nanograms per litre. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is allowing 0.2 nanograms per litre. Thus, Detroit is reporting zero discharge in its permit application.
According to the National Pollution Release Inventory, Appendix B, data from samples collected from 14 municipal plants in New York City indicates that chloroform concentration increases from 6 to 17 milligrams per litre in that range in the influent to 3 to 45 milligrams per litre range in the effluent.
A survey conducted in Canada of 738 municipal wastewater plants across Canada indicates a much higher chloroform concentration in its effluent, about 0.6 parts per million. That's of June of 2001.
How can Detroit make such unchallenged claims? Who is allowing this go on?
Detroit recently was given a permit to build a dechlorination facility. They built it. Not only are they discharging unacceptable levels of PCBs, they are adding another toxic chemical, sulphur dioxide, creating halogenated hydrocarbons and decreasing the ph to near acidic levels.
It is obvious there is a discrepancy in the data and in its reporting. How can other agencies report results considerably higher along the Detroit River's outfall than the Detroit Water and Sewage Department in Detroit?
IJC should intervene in the permit process to ensure that the people are safe. How do these decisions get made to use such outdated processes? How does the IJC expect people to help them when the IJC is not helping the people?
Six years ago, citizens were raising the same issues. The government was saying that we were rabble-rousers. Even now, what is the next course for the disposal of our Detroit sludge? There are similar contracts coming.
Where is the IJC's oversight in these matters? There is no peer review and no honest data. The IJC should be overseeing what is going on in the Great Lakes, especially when the Detroit River is one of the largest contributors to the pollution of Lake Erie. Thank you.
JACK BLANEY: Thank you. (APPLAUSE) Don Brown, followed by David Dorian (?).
DON BROWN (Representative of Congresswoman Candice Miller): Good afternoon. Thank you, Chairman Schornack, members of the Commission, for allowing me to speak and say a few words on behalf of Representative Candice Miller.
Many of us in Michigan know that Candice Miller has been an avid sailor. She sailed in 25+ Port Huron to Mackinac races. But what many of you don't know is that she lives in an area of concern on the Clinton River. Not far from her house is a containment facility with hazardous sludge that's been piling up through the years.
Candice Miller's commitment to the environment and water quality issues that we're discussing this week is something that she's keenly aware of. She served on the committee that looked at Lake St. Clair water quality problems, and is committed now as a Member of Congress to move forward to help restore the Great Lakes.
In her brief tenure in Congress, she has launched three initiatives that I think will be helpful to us as we try to get a hold of the problems facing the Great Lakes.
The first is HR-2668, the Great Lakes Consolidation Collection Monitoring Act. This companion bill, sponsored by Senator Levin and Voinovich, among others, will direct the Great Lakes National Program Office of Environmental Protection to mandate water quality in the Great Lakes by developing methods to gauge water quality and regularly monitor the data that's collected.
According to a recent GAO report, existing lake monitoring and restoration programs lack coordination between different agencies and their efforts.
In addition, they lack the fine goals, and most importantly, they lack funding. The data collected is inadequate, meaning that it's impossible to detect whether actual progress is being made toward the goal.
This bill will also allow the EPA to develop and implement a set of science-based assessments of risks and related environmental factors in the Great Lakes, including accumulated toxic pollutants.
It will require continued monitoring and data collection to help identify emerging problems, as well as identify those areas where we're making progress.
The second initiative involves notification and monitoring. Congresswoman Miller calls on Michigan and Ontario officials to pull together to devise a way to enforce mandatory and immediate notification of water treatment plants by the responsible party when a spill or discharge of sewage or chemicals is released into our drinking water.
The current voluntary notification system has serious flaws and does not work all the time, and the drinking water of our population is too valuable and it's too critical to have those hazardous chemicals get into the water.
Which leads to the second part of her point: we need to develop a real-time chemical monitoring system for our drinking water facilities. When hazardous chemicals go into the water, come down the river and water plants take in those chemicals, there's no way to know what hazardous chemicals are in those waters.
Given this post 9/11 environment that we're in, security is of paramount concern to everyone, yet there's a big hole in our water supplies in relation to these drinking water and monitoring systems.
So I'd offer those points for your consideration. Candice Miller stands ready to work with all of you who support restoring the Great Lakes to greatness. Thank you very much and thank you for your time.
JACK BLANEY: Thank you. (APPLAUSE) David Dorian, followed by Ziggy.
DAVID DORIAN: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the opportunity of addressing you for a couple of minutes this afternoon. I am David Dorian; I am a representative to an advisory committee creating by Halton Region in Ontario to look into…our mandate is to examine the causes of and possible remedies for a shoreline algae problem that we have had for the last several years.
My question, basically, is related to Annex 2 and your surveillance and monitoring activities requirements under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
There are a couple of related questions. I would like to know that the targets…how the IJC knows that the targets specifically for phosphorus in Lake Ontario are being met? As you can see, I have a focus on phosphorus because of the algae situation.
If they are, how can we access the data and what is the latest year for which you have data? And how often is the data being collected and monitored?
JACK BLANEY: Thank you for that question. Who would like to respond? One of the members of the Great Lakes Water Quality Board? John?
JOHN MILLS: I can respond by saying I honestly don't know the answer to the question, and I don't... you asked the question where the IJC... the data the IJC has and I don't have the answer to that question, I'm sorry.
JACK BLANEY: Oh, Harvey is going to respond.
HARVEY SHEAR: I can try and… In responding to the role I have in the State of the Lakes Conference work, we put together information on phosphorus levels and a whole host of other parameters every two years.
And the trends, in Lake Ontario, we have met the targets for phosphorus control in the open lake. We don't specifically have information on near-shore (inaudible)...it does exist in the open waters.
I think you were probably asking about loadings information...
DAVID DORIAN: Yes, I am. Sorry. There is a requirement, I gather, or a suggested target of 7,000 tonnes.
HARVEY SHEAR: 7,000. And one... you know, you can infer the loading from the in-lake concentration. But as far as I know, we're not collecting specific loading data. We may have to in the future, but we're not right now.
JACK BLANEY: Thank you. Ziggy? Followed by Jennifer Firehearn (?).
ZIGGY KLEINAU: Thank you. I would like to begin my two minutes, three minutes presentation with congratulating the Right Honourable on his first grandchild. I know he has been looking forward to that event for quite some time.
And actually, our Executive Director of Great Lakes United - I have the board member on Great Lakes United - and our Executive Director ran out of time and couldn't get to the number seven in the Green Book, where it says water and air quality standards.
And under actions, it says fulfill the zero discharge commitments of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement for releases of persistent toxic substances, and add radionuclides like tritium and carbon 14 to the list of persistent toxic substances.
And that is something we have been looking at for quite a long time at the Great Lakes United platform and action agenda. And because of that, we came to a resolution which was actually based on the 11th Biannual Report of the IJC.
So if you permit to read this resolution, it's specifically directed to the IJC, to the International Joint Commission.
JACK BLANEY: Just as long as you know that we don't take... we don't... we will not manage that... we don't take resolutions. This is an open town hall. However, you can read it and deposit it with us. Thank you.
ZIGGY KLEINAU: Exactly. Okay, this resolution is on nuclear installation safety and security and it states:
Whereas the International Joint Commission is the binational body created by the U.S. and Canadian governments to assist the parties in addressing actions to restore the chemical and biological integrity of the Great Lakes ecosystem;
And whereas the IJC is overseeing the monitoring of the 1972 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement;
And whereas the IJC, in its preamble to the 11th Biannual Report of 2002, urges a balanced but more aggressive approach to restoring and protecting the Great Lakes;
And whereas the IJC is addressing the increased focus on the fundamental security of the Great Lakes water resources from terrorist threats - now that's taken directly from the report;
And whereas there are numerous nuclear generating plants located on the shores of four of the five Great Lakes encompassing nuclear reactors and highly-radioactive waste storage with huge dry storage containers placed above ground at close vicinity to the waters of the Lakes;
And whereas the IJC, within the spoke of its responsibilities, is prepared to assist the governments in protecting the Great Lakes water resources under the binational agreement;
Be it therefore resolved Great Lakes United calls on the International Joint Commission to urgently request the parties to legislate a ban on the re-start of laid-up (?) nuclear reactors and on new nuclear power projects;
And be it further resolved that the parties require nuclear plant owners and operators to immediately stop placing radioactive spent fuel containers at the shores of the Great Lakes;
And be it further resolved that power generated from nuclear and fossil fuel stations be replaced by mandated energy conservation and renewable energy generation at an accelerated pace.
And this was adopted and unanimously endorsed by the almost 160 organizations that form the coalition of Great Lakes United.
And I just wanted to say that I actually have three beautiful grandchildren and I am really concerned about the future that they are facing.
And radionuclides are persistent toxic substances and that's the way they should be placed in context with the chemical substances that are already being addressed.
JACK BLANEY: Thank you.
ZIGGY KLEINAU: Zero means zero.
JACK BLANEY: Thank you very much. (APPLAUSE) Jennifer Firehearn, followed by Bill Smith. And I'm probably going to be a little bit more disciplined about the three minutes because we're getting more cards.
JENNIFER FIREHEARN: And sure you say that right as I step to the microphone. (LAUGHS) My name is Jennifer Firehearn, and though usually I'm representative (inaudible) Great Lakes program, today I'm providing a statement for the Friends of the Buffalo and Niagara Rivers.
As one of the first non-governmental organizations in the Great Lakes to be handed the responsibility of managing and coordinating a remedial action plan, the Friends of the Buffalo and Niagara Rivers would like to offer several comments and observations to the IJC as part of the 2004 Great Lakes Conference and Biannual Meeting.
There comes a time when we realize that doing business as usual may no longer be effective. This is true when one looks at the status of RAPs throughout the basin.
Many AOCs face the same challenges: governmental resources are stretched thin, successes are limited at best, and progress is uneven to non-existent.
But rather than hang our collective heads and dwelling on the lack of progress to date, we need to spark new energy into the RAP process and begin to think outside the basin, so to speak.
What other environmental programs in the U.S. or Canada have been successful and what mechanisms and processes can be borrowed from them?
What have small NGOs done to achieve larger accomplishments on tighter budgets? How can we identify funding needs at the local level and in turn evaluate the effectiveness of the existing spending?
With the IJC's leadership, the stakeholders in the Great Lakes region have become world leaders in developing an ecosystem approach to managing shared resources. However, we are now at a point where further institutional innovation is necessary.
The Friends of the Buffalo Niagara Rivers would like the IJC to consider the following for the RAP program while it is identifying its priorities for 2003 to 5.
The IJC has a lot to offer in terms of intellectual capital. Continue to fund and offer basin-wide workshops targeted toward RAP coordinators, stakeholders, and RAP implementers on specific issues such as technologies, obtaining funding, program management, etc.
This is necessary to keep recruiting and training the next generation of activists, leaders, and scientists.
Local level involvement. The IJC must start becoming dual-focused. Basin-wide and nation-wide priorities are fine, but these must be adapted to the local level.
The IJC is well-known in the small RAP or PAC inner circles. However, to the general public, the IJC is just another distant, undefinable identity. Visibility and involvement by the IJC and local RAPs is warranted.
We need the IJC representatives to come to our local communities to hold hearings, ask what is being done, and consistently push for progress to be made. Being more knowledgeable about the local issues makes for a stronger advocate, and that's where local RAPs need IJC the most.
Funding, funding, funding. If you can't offer resources directly, leverage what you can. If you can't leverage it, identify additional sources. If you can't identify resources, identify the needs.
The IJC advocating for local issues can lend credibility to local funding efforts. This allows the IJC to offer low-cost assistance for a high rate of return.
Most importantly, measure the adequacy and evaluate the effectiveness of current funding. More times than not, the government funding is diverted, locked, or held up before it ever trickles down to the RAP areas.
Therefore, it's critical to determine how much funding is actually being used to restore the beneficial uses and work with RAP groups to generate real-cost estimates on de-listing principles.
We believe that NGOs can often do the job cheaper than government and sometimes more effectively. We fear, though, that if the mandates are handed out without adequate funding, then the devolution is really deregulation and a surrender of the federal government's commitment to deal with the Areas of Concern.
As the entity that created and oversees RAPs, the IJC has a responsibility to make sure that the transfer of RAP management powers to NGOs is not the beginning of de-funding for the clean-up of the Great Lakes.
Recognize small successes without compromising the amount of work to be done. Success begets success, but it can also breed complacency. The IJC can reinforce continued accountability by building into RAPs and LaMPs criteria for reasonable further progress.
The long-term nature of RAP goals creates a culture where program managers don't really think short term. How far have we come and where do we need to go in the next year?
The small successes can be used to leverage future resources, but they do not replace the need for consistent evaluation of the program, regular reporting on progress, and challenges through a routine oversight process, and the push for large successes.
Just one more. Develop a support system with the rapidly-decreasing role and resources that federal and state governments seem to have available for the AOCs and the likely trend of NGOs and local government to begin quarterbacking the clean-ups.
There is a strong need for capacity-building and the creation of a support system for RAP implementation. The two Great Lakes program offices in the U.S. and Canada and possibly the IJC can help take the lead on this in terms of creating standard operating procedures, providing training and accountability, and developing participatory mechanisms and criteria for stakeholders.
In addition, we feel it's necessary to broaden the concept of peer review for RAPs and LaMPs to include more non-scientists, non-program manager people, in other words citizens into the review process. Thank you.
JACK BLANEY: Thank you very much. (APPLAUSE) Bill Smith, followed by Marilyn Baxter. And we're going to have to be about two minutes each now, please, thank you.
BILL SMITH: I'm Bill Smith. I'm a member of the Macomb County, Michigan, Water Quality Board.
In 1994, Macomb County was hit with two environmental catastrophes: a discharge of 980 million gallons of untreated sewage into the Clinton River and a prolific growth of aquatic weeds in Lake St. Clair. This choked our river canal with weeds, dead animals, and caused a health hazard as well as an economic impact on the county.
In response to that, the County Chairman organized a blue-ribbon commission on Lake St. Clair, and I, like Candice Miller, was a member of that committee, and I also live on the Clinton River.
The findings of that report, which has been circulated to everybody we get it to, was the findings that the federal government, the state government, and the county governments were not doing what they could be doing, that they found fault with everybody, including Environment Canada and the IJC and the Ontario Ministry of Environment.
But in order to get something done, we couldn't point our finger at anybody else without doing something ourselves. The County created and funded a surface water investigation team with the Health Department, enhanced it, funded new positions, hired an environmental attorney for enforcement, and created the Water Quality Board, which oversees and coordinates the environmental actions of the County.
To date, the County has been pretty effective in that. Among their successes were that one SOLEC report indicated that they particularly well documented beach closing in Macomb County, Michigan, which was Metro Park, the largest bathing beach in the state, so it got…the Health Department go into water monitoring big time and beach monitoring.
Additionally, they uncovered and helped take corrective action for sewer separation and the combined sewer overflow, identified that problem and went state-wide.
The County Health Department has been pretty effective. The environmental prosecutor had 400 cases turned over to him from the State Attorney General that they hadn't had time to enforce and he has whittled those down. Enforcement is part of the correction.
I would give you an analogy…
JACK BLANEY: You have about 30 seconds, Bill, please. Sorry, but we do have to complete by 3:00. I would be delighted, however, if you could present your statements which you have written to the secretaries. We'd be delighted to have them. Thank you very much. Marilyn Baxter, followed by Michael Murray.
MARILYN BAXTER (Manager, Bay Area Restoration Council): Hello, I'm Marilyn Baxter. I'm the Manager of the Bay Area Restoration Council. We're the not-for-profit group promoting and also performing the watchdog role for the Hamilton Harbour clean-up area.
And I just want to say that I was inspired by yesterday's workshops. I really like how they focused on the priorities, like the Water Quality Agreement, invasive species, land use, which to me means stopping pollution and habitat loss, and human health, of course, is drinking water and fish, and planning for change.
And I guess what I heard was a whole bunch of examples and compelling arguments and sort of a coming together of issues. I felt that we were understanding…we even understand that things are more complex now, but still we understand that now.
So I urge the IJC to use the science-based reports prepared by all of the science advisory boards, all of the advisory boards, and transfer this knowledge using clear and compelling messages.
Everyone here is either a decision-maker or can share these findings with decision-makers back at home, so that's a lot of resources that the messages can be expanded through.
We want our decisions to be made on science and we want them to encourage the restoration of the Lakes, so give us those strong messages and tools.
And for example, biological integrity is really impacted by land use, and as we were hearing, that's definitely a local issue. So give us those tools and the messages that will make sense to politicians and planners. We don't need to wait for the answers, we need to identify the issues.
And I think the IJC has been very strong at identifying data needs and consulting and that sort of thing, but move on more to not just having the reports available to the public, but interpreting the reports so that they can be used for the public. So thank you very much. (APPLAUSE)
JACK BLANEY: Thank you very much. Michael Murray, followed by Neela Akuri (?).
MICHAEL MURRAY (National Wildlife Federation): Thank you. I'm with the National Wildlife Federation's Great Lakes office here in Ann Arbor, again.
I just want to commend the IJC on a fruitful week of meetings, and the workshops this week were particularly informative. Also, on the mercury work that was done in '01-'03 biennium, really appreciated the focus then.
In terms of the priorities for '03-'05, I think that most of them look pretty good. NWF would say that these are all important issues, particularly addressing emerging chemicals of concern in the Great Lakes, so it's definitely an important issue both in the region and really globally.
I'd maintain some emphasis, though, on the existing chemicals of concern, because clearly, we have a ways to go on mercury, PCBs, dioxins.
And we've seen some progress, in particular on PCBs, dioxins, and some progress on mercury as well, but it's clear that water quality targets... we were just talking about the water quality standards, the targets in the Great Lakes region, we have quite a ways to go until we're going to be meeting water quality standards and eliminating fish consumption advisories.
Also, the idea... it really was Great Lakes researchers, even 30 years ago, talking about wildlife in the Great Lakes as sentinels for concern, environmental concern, due to contaminants in the environment.
I think we need to maybe kind of renew emphasis on that, both as sentinels for human health concerns, as well as for concerns about their well-being and the impacts of contaminants on them. And I think we still have concerns there both with existing and emerging chemicals.
Now just to reiterate the importance of the monitoring networks that people talked about earlier. We really need to do a better job of...
(END OF TAPE)
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