1995-97 PRIORITIES AND PROGRESS UNDER THE GREAT LAKES WATER QUALITY AGREEMENT

TABLE OF CONTENTS


INTRODUCTION

In the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the United States and Canada (the Parties) agreed "to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem." To achieve this purpose, the Parties have undertaken numerous programs, policies and other measures and have obligated themselves to periodic reporting on their progress.

The International Joint Commission's (IJC) role is to evaluate and assess the Parties' programs and provide a report at least every two years that presents its findings, advice and recommendations. To fulfill its evaluative role, IJC relies upon numerous sources. Major sources of information and assistance are the two joint institutions established under the Agreement -- the Great Lakes Water Quality Board (WQB) and the Great Lakes Science Advisory Board (SAB).

As principal advisor to IJC, WQB is composed of 20 program managers and administrators drawn from the two federal governments, the eight states and two provinces in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River basin. SAB, whose 18 members represent a broad range of disciplines, provides science advice to both IJC and WQB.

To provide advice related to Great Lakes research, IJC in 1984 established a Council of Great Lakes Research Managers, whose 22 members are responsible for research programs related to implementation of the Agreement. Given the significance of the air as a pathway by which contaminants reach the waters of the Great Lakes, IJC relies on its International Air Quality Advisory Board (IAQAB), established in 1966 under the auspices of the Boundary Waters Treaty, to provide advice in this regard. IJC also establishes task forces and other groups to address specific issues or subjects that are particularly germane to fulfilling the Agreement purpose.

Recognizing the need to secure the views and opinions of basin stakeholders, IJC also engages in a variety of public consultation activities. The information received from this broad-based consultation contributes significantly to the insight, advice and recommendations that IJC provides to governments through its biennial reports.

To focus its human and financial resources, IJC relies on a biennial priority setting process. The priorities for the current 1995-97 cycle were drafted in summer 1995, presented publicly for discussion at the September 1995 biennial meeting held in Duluth, Minnesota and formally adopted by IJC Commissioners on November 20, 1995. Subsequently, IJC undertook additional work related to indicators to evaluate Agreement progress and also defined the nature of the work to be undertaken in support of Annex 2 of the Agreement. The 1995-97 priorities are summarized in the following table. Responsibility to undertake the priorities was assigned to WQB, SAB, IAQAB, the Council, the Lake Erie Task Force, the Nuclear Task Force, the Indicators Implementation Task Force, and the Annex 2 Advisory Committee.

The six chapters in this report were prepared by the group or groups responsible for the identified priorities. They define and describe the specific investigations undertaken to support each priority and present the groups' findings, conclusions and recommendations. No attempt was made to harmonize the content or recommendations, as they represent each group's particular advice to IJC with respect to their charge and obligations.

This report is the second in a series. The first, published in August 1995, presented findings and advice for priorities established for IJC's 1993-95 biennial cycle.

COMMISSION PRIORITIES FOR 1995-97

PRIORITY PERSISTENT TOXIC SUBSTANCES: IMPACT ON HUMAN AND ECOSYSTEM HEALTH
SUMMARY Assemble and consider new evidence particularly pertaining to the disruption of the endocrine system of wildlife and humans by the 11 critical pollutants and other persistent toxic substances, and the effect of these substances on the neurobehaviour of animals and humans. Evaluate any progress made in reducing or eliminating effects as well as identification of policy issues.
RESPONSIBILITY Lead: Science Advisory Board
Support: Water Quality Board and Council of Great Lakes Research Managers
PRODUCT (CHAPTER)
PRIORITY PERSISTENT TOXIC SUBSTANCES: SIGNIFICANT SOURCES AND PATHWAYS, MEASUREMENT AND REDUCTION / ELIMINATION
SUMMARY
  • Identify significant pathways for persistent toxic substances to the Great Lakes.
  • Identify and quantify persistent toxic substances in the air, their human health and other effects, and suggest ways to decrease levels and effects.
  • Identify air deposition from sources internal and external to the basin.
  • Assess current information on research about emissions from incinerators and their contribution to persistent toxic substance loadings to the basin.
  • Review activities of the U.S. and Canadian governments under long-range transport of air pollutants.
  • Evaluate global reduction / elimination strategies and assess their implication in existing and possible future strategies for the Great Lakes.
RESPONSIBILITY Lead: Water Quality Board and International Air Quality Advisory Board
Support: Science Advisory Board
PRODUCT (CHAPTER)
PRIORITY PERSISTENT TOXIC SUBSTANCES: REMEDIATION AND MANAGEMENT OF CONTAMINATED SEDIMENT
SUMMARY Assess government activities and programs; identify available options and technologies for remediation, destruction and storage of persistent toxic substances in sediments, with particular consideration to the contaminated sediment component of RAPs and LaMPs, including methods of funding and public acceptance of the approaches.
RESPONSIBILITY Lead: Water Quality Board
Support: Science Advisory Board and Council of Great Lakes Research Managers
PRODUCT (CHAPTER)
PRIORITY PESTICIDES
SUMMARY Because of potential impacts on fish and wildlife population and considerations of human health, assess changes in pesticide usage patterns and application rates, thereby helping to evaluate ongoing Parties' programs.
RESPONSIBILITY Lead: Great Lakes Regional Office
PRODUCT (CHAPTER)
PRIORITY IMPROVING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF GREAT LAKES RESEARCH
SUMMARY Given substantial budget cuts and scientific staff reductions to Great Lakes research programs, investigate improving the effectiveness of research by eliminating duplication, sharing information and programs to protect needed research, and identify cost-saving strategies.
RESPONSIBILITY Lead: Council of Great Lakes Research Managers, in consultation with Great Lakes researchers
PRODUCT (CHAPTER)
PRIORITY LAKE ERIE ECOLOGICAL MODEL
SUMMARY Develop the framework and infrastructure necessary to sustain a process for ecosystem modelling of Lake Erie, thereby increasing understanding of that lake's ecosystem and leading to enhanced ability to evaluate Agreement progress and render resource management decisions. Adjust and improve the 1994-95 Lake Erie model by incorporating further proposed modifications. Consider also health issues related to persistent toxic substances.
RESPONSIBILITY Lead: Lake Erie Task Force
Support: Water Quality Board, Science Advisory Board and Council of Great Lakes Research Managers
PRODUCT (CHAPTER)
PRIORITY INDICATORS
SUMMARY To implement the advice provided by the Indicators for Evaluation Task Force in 1996
RESPONSIBILITY Lead: Indicators Implementation Task Force
PRODUCT (CHAPTER)
PRIORITY ANNEX 2: REMEDIAL ACTION PLANS AND LAKEWIDE MANAGEMENT PLANS
SUMMARY To assist the Parties in the development and implementation of RAPs and LaMPs through: conducting status assessments to evaluate activities, workshops to transfer information and foster implementation, and RAP and LaMP reviews in order to gauge progress toward restoration of beneficial uses.
RESPONSIBILITY Lead: Annex 2 Advisory Committee
PRODUCT (CHAPTER)
PRIORITY NUCLEAR
SUMMARY Provide an inventory of radionuclides in the basin
RESPONSIBILITY Lead: Nuclear Task Force
PRODUCT (CHAPTER)
PRIORITY OTHER
SUMMARY Identify and provide insight and advice on other topics relevant to fulfilling the Agreement purpose and in accordance to the directives to WQB and SAB, including emerging issues.
RESPONSIBILITY Lead: All
PRODUCT (CHAPTER)


RECOMMENDATIONS

The following 40 recommendations were developed by the Science Advisory Board, the Water Quality Board, the Council of Great Lakes Research Managers and the Lake Erie Task Force for the Commission's consideration. Substantiating details are provided in the sections indicated.

SCIENCE ADVISORY BOARD

Environmental Results: Trends in Concentrations and Effects of Persistent Toxic Substances

SAB recommends the following.

PCBs, A New Equilibrium? Workshop on Steady State

SAB recommends the following.

RAP Progress: Site Visits to Two Areas of Concern

SAB recommends the following.

State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference

SAB recommends the following.

Governance

SAB recommends the following.

Ecological Economics as an Emerging Issue

SAB recommends the following.

Foodweb Dynamics in Aquatic Systems as an Emerging Issue

SAB recommends the following.

WATER QUALITY BOARD

Fish Consumption Advisories

WQB continues to recommend the following.

Remedial Action Plans

WQB recommends the following.

Other Great Lakes Issues

WQB recommends the following.

Watershed Management

WQB recommends the following.

Habitat 2001

WQB recommends the following.

COUNCIL OF GREAT LAKES RESEARCH MANAGERS

Funding for Great Lakes Science

The Council recommends the following.

Improving the Effectiveness of Great Lakes Research

The Council recommends the following.

LAKE ERIE TASK FORCE

The Lake Erie Task Force recommends the following.


Modified: 28 August 1997
Maintained by: Kevin McGunagle, mcgunaglek@ijc.wincom.net

URL: http://www.ijc.org/php/publications/html/pr9597.html