SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS

In its previous reports, the Commission has detailed the injury to human and ecosystem health caused by persistent toxic substances. The evidence continues to grow. The Commission acknowledges the considerable efforts and resources that have been devoted over the past quarter-century to reduce and eliminate inputs from all sources and pathways. In particular, the programs and measures directed at municipal and industrial point sources are examples to be emulated worldwide; governments and industry are to be congratulated.

The Commission also recognizes the opportunities created and the progress achieved through the interest and involvement of the entire Great Lakes community -- not only governments, but also business, agriculture, environmentalists, labour, native Americans and First Nations, educators, researchers, the news media and many others who have given their time and effort to make their communities better places to live in. Only with such dedication and commitment have we been able to travel this far in our journey.

Much remains to be done, however. The Commission presents 19 specific recommendations that will help Great Lakes society complete the journey and achieve the Agreement's purpose. Through these recommendations, the Commission seeks from governments specific commitments to action and the provision of data and information. Many of the actions suggested in the recommendations should fit into existing programs such as the Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy. The Commission requests detailed responses from governments as part of their 1999 report of programs and progress under the Agreement.

The Commission recommends the following.

Contaminated Sediment

  1. Governments provide detailed work plans, schedules and benchmarks to complete sediment remediation projects in the eight Areas of Concern for which remediation decisions have been made but action is pending.
  2. Governments make sediment remediation and management decisions for the 31 Areas of Concern that remain under assessment, and provide detailed work plans, schedules and benchmarks to initiate and complete sediment remediation.

Air Pollution

  1. Governments accelerate development of integrated, binational programs, including common benchmarks and schedules, to reduce and eliminate sources of specific toxic and persistent toxic substances to the atmosphere, including sources outside the Great Lakes basin.
  2. Governments develop and communicate to the public, by December 31, 2000, a comprehensive strategy for altering established energy production and use patterns to achieve reductions in mercury and nitrogen oxide emissions.

Agricultural Practices

  1. Governments adopt the following agricultural and land-use goals and targets:
    • to place at least 55 per cent of the Great Lakes basin row-crop acreage into conservation tillage by 2002;
    • to increase buffer-strip mileage in the Great Lakes basin by at least 30 per cent by 2002; and
    • to reduce herbicide loads to the Great Lakes by at least 30 per cent by 2005.

Areas of Concern

  1. Governments implement the eight recommendations presented in the Commission's report, Beacons of Light, that deal with human health, public-private partnerships, funding and staffing, public participation, information transfer, quantification of environmental benefits and public advisory council funding.
  2. Governments review the current environmental status and programs in place to address environmental issues in the Lake St. Clair and the St. Joseph River areas, and report this information to the Commission, so that the Commission may direct the Great Lakes Water Quality Board to advise on their possible designation as Areas of Concern under the Agreement.

Science and Research

  1. Public and private sectors
    • fund research that expands understanding about the incidence of endocrine disruption in humans and wildlife;
    • conduct programs to measure and establish the concentration of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in human tissues and fluids; and
    • investigate endocrine-disrupting capability of chemical mixtures.

Communication of Scientific Information

  1. Governments actively participate in the work of the Communications Task Force under the Council of Great Lakes Research Managers.

Ecosystem Models

  1. Governments support the development and application of models to assist in the testing, evaluation and implementation of ecosystem indicators, monitoring strategies and management strategies for water quality, contaminants, fisheries and other ecosystem issues.

Surveillance and Monitoring

  1. Governments identify surveillance and monitoring programs essential to track contaminant loadings to and concentration trends for each of the Great Lakes; provide assurances to the Commission and the public that these programs will be maintained; and provide on a timely basis data and information to quantify load reductions and ecosystem improvements.

Dioxins and Furans

  1. Governments adopt a three-part strategy relating to: existing commercial operations, including manufacture, import, use and release into the environment; present day combustion facilities; and the legacy of dioxin-like substances from past human activities. Further, Governments adopt and report on a schedule outlining appropriate measures to be taken.

Mercury

  1. Governments and business apply incentive-based approaches to identify and eliminate specific uses of mercury.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls

  1. Governments develop a detailed program, including benchmarks and schedules, for the systematic destruction of PCBs in storage, in use and in the Great Lakes environment.

Radioactivity

  1. Governments comprehensively review all monitoring at nuclear facilities in the Great Lakes basin with a view to making the monitoring more accommodating to the needs of the Agreement.
  2. Governments monitor toxic chemicals used in large quantities at nuclear power plants, identify radioactive forms of the toxic chemicals and analyze their impact on the Great Lakes ecosystem.
  3. Governments investigate and report toxicological and ecological problems associated with tritium, carbon-14, iodine-129, isotopes of plutonium and radium-226.

Transition

  1. Governments structure a transition study and develop a transition model by December 31, 1999, for one of the chemicals presently under investigation through the Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy.

Socio-Economic Value

  1. Governments commission a study to evaluate the practical value of utilizing the ecological economics approach.