Areas of Concern - Special Report

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Chapter 2

Areas of Concern

Purpose of this Report

Responsibilities of the Commission

Responsibilities of the Governments

Remedial Action Plan Process



Responsibilities of the Commission

The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement [Annex 2, Section 4(d)] requires the two governments to submit Remedial Action Plans for each Area of Concern to the Commission for review and comment at three stages:

  1. when a definition of the problem has been completed,

  2. when remedial and regulatory measures are selected, and

  3. when monitoring indicates that identified beneficial uses have been restored.

The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement [Annex 2, Section 7(b)] also requires the governments to report every two years to the Commission on progress toward restoration of beneficial uses in the Areas of Concern. The Agreement also requires the Commission to include information from these reports in its biennial reports [Annex 2, Section 7(b)]. Since 1987, only one comprehensive report on the status of beneficial uses has been prepared by the governments, and this report was submitted in 1994.

The Commission has submitted 11 biennial reports to the governments on progress toward restoration of Great Lakes water quality, the most recent one in September 2002. It has also submitted four detailed reports that assess progress in the Detroit River, Hamilton Harbour, St. Marys River and Niagara River Areas of Concern. The Commission also has commented on all Stage 1, Stage 2 and Stage 3 reports that have been submitted by the governments (see In addition, in 1991, the Commission developed and published guidelines for the listing and delisting of Areas of Concern.

Stage of Remedial Action Plan Development and Implementation
StageUnited StatesCanadaConnecting Channels (Binational)
(St. Marys, St. Clair, Detroit; 2 each for Niagara and St. Lawrence)

In the past year, the Commission has undertaken a comprehensive review of progress in developing and implementing Remedial Action Plans for all the Areas of Concern. As part of this work, in December 2001, the Commission requested information from the two governments regarding Remedial Action Plan implementation and management. In January 2002, the governments provided some data, noting that much of the requested information was not available. In April 2002, information was gathered from surveys of Canadian and United States officials and community representatives on implementation activities, management of and accountability for the Remedial Action Plan process, and key challenges and successes. During October and November 2002, the governments worked with the Commission on filling information gaps. The Commission greatly appreciates the cooperation and assistance of the two governments in the preparation of this report.

The Matrix of Restoration Activities in the Areas of Concern that accompanies this report reflects this cooperative effort and represents, at this time, the best available indicators of progress on Areas of Concern. The CD-ROM of the Commission's Eleventh Biennial Report also includes this report, the Matrix of Restoration Activities and a clickable map of all Areas of Concern.