Introduction

Purpose

This report examines current implementation efforts in various AOCs in the Great Lakes basin and identifies successful concepts, techniques and institutional characteristics. It is hoped that, in so doing, the most effective endeavors may serve as "beacons" to guide other AOCs where progress has been more difficult. Recent developments related to staffing and budget cuts are proving to be formidable impediments to efforts aimed at restoring beneficial uses in AOCs. Building on a decade of experience in reviewing RAPs and assisting in their development, IJC hopes to focus attention on the most productive methods of restoring beneficial uses in this era of limited resources.

Overview

In the 1987 Protocol to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the Governments of the United States and Canada agreed to develop and implement RAPs, in cooperation with state and provincial governments, in designated areas around the Great Lakes basin where beneficial uses were degraded and water quality objectives were not being met. RAPs are to embody a systematic and comprehensive ecosystem approach to the restoration and protection of beneficial uses. Since 1978, 43 AOCs have been identified and RAP development started in most of them with a view to restoring beneficial uses.

Under Annex 2 of the Agreement, IJC is required to review and comment on RAPs at three stages of development or implementation: when the problem definition has been completed; when remedial and regulatory measures have been selected; and when monitoring indicates that beneficial uses have been restored. A number of RAP documents have been reviewed over the past 15 years including 43 stage one and six stage two documents. One stage three RAP, submitted regarding Collingwood Harbour, was reviewed and resulted in this AOC being "delisted" as all the required remedial programs were in place and beneficial uses essentially restored. In its review of RAPs, IJC emphasizes the proper designation of affected beneficial uses, the adequacy of data to assess causes and effects, the evaluation and selection of remedial measures, the understanding of the socio-economic context of decisions and the adequacy of public involvement.

The preparation of RAPs has led to substantial planning efforts in some locations and often voluminous and time-consuming reports, perhaps to the detriment of actual remedial progress. Some jurisdictions have informed IJC that they no longer wish to prepare RAPs in the stages outlined. IJC responded by adopting a new initiative of conducting Status Assessments, designed to intensively examine the progress toward restoration of beneficial uses in selected AOCs or open lake waters. IJC wishes to emphasize the need for quality decisions and actual environmental results rather than the production of documents and other paperwork.

The Status Assessment process allows IJC to examine activities more intensively and pragmatically than in a review of a RAP document. It allows IJC to individually map the most productive route toward restoring beneficial uses and identify the specific roadblocks to progress. It also allows IJC to more directly analyze the adequacy of public consultation as well as actual commitments to restoration by all levels of government.

In addition to the review of RAP documents when submitted and the implementation of the Status Assessment process, IJC also has undertaken activities to transfer information among the various AOCs. For example, in July 1996, IJC in cooperation with The Johnson Foundation sponsored a conference entitled "Funding Strategies for Restoration of Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes Basin." This conference was designed specifically to facilitate the transfer of innovative funding strategies to AOCs throughout the Great Lakes basin. Presentations regarding these strategies were not restricted to concepts previously adopted in AOCs and included the use of green credit cards, environmental license plates and professional fund-raising techniques.