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



Areas of Concern

The 1978 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA; see Box 1), signed by the governments of Canada and the United States and amended in 1987, improved accountability and encouraged the implementation of best practices and the use of new technology in remediation activites. The two countries, working in cooperation with state and local governments and the Commission, designated areas that were particulary degraded as "Areas of Concern". Figure 1 shows the current Areas of Concern.

    Figure 1 :
    Areas of Concern in Canada and the United States.
    (Click on the picture for a larger version).

Box 1 :
The Boundary Waters Treaty and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement

A Legacy of Leadership to Protect and Restore Our Shared Resources

The 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty stipulates that "boundary waters and waters flowing across the boundary shall not be polluted on either side to the injury of health or property on the other." The treaty created the International Joint Commission to prevent and resolve disputes along the boundary. Commencing in 1912, the Commission, at the request of the U.S. and Canadian governments, conducted several studies on pollution affecting the Great Lakes. A 1970 Commission report, completed at the request of the U.S. and Canadian governments, noted pollution problems in lakes Erie and Ontario and the St. Lawrence River1. and culminated in the signing of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement in 1972.

Excess nutrients (e.g. phosphorus) in the lakes were the target of the original agreement. In 1978 the governments strengthened their commitment to restore the Great Lakes and called for the "discharge of any or all toxic substances to be virtually eliminated." In addition, the goals of the Agreement were broadened from restoring and enhancing "water quality in the Great Lakes system" to restoring and maintaining the "chemical, physical and biological integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem."