IJC adopts new logo
The logo on the front cover of Focus is the new official symbol for the IJC.
The Canadian maple leaf flag and U.S. stars and stripes represent the two
countries. Five wavy bars symbolize waterways and allude to the number of Great
Lakes. The wreath highlights Canada and the United States working together to
monitor the transboundary environment. The scroll and quills illustrate the
signing of the 1909 Boundary Water Treaty.
IJC works with governments
to collect essential information on restoration of Great Lakes Areas of
Nearly a decade after the revised 1978 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement was signed by Canada and the United States to "restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem," the two nations agreed that the worst areas would be given priority attention. Subsequently, 43 such areas were designated as Areas of Concern because they contained contaminated sediment, urban wastewater pollution, nonpoint pollution, inland contaminated sites and/or degraded habitat to a greater degree than the rest of the Great Lakes. Twenty-six of these are solely in the United States, 12 are solely in Canada and five are located on binational waterways.
Now, 15 years after the Areas of Concern were designated, the IJC has undertaken a comprehensive review of progress and issued Status of Restoration Activities in Great Lakes Areas of Concern: A Special Report. Over the past year, the IJC requested information from the U.S. and Canadian governments, conducted surveys of officials and community representatives on restoration activities, management and accountability for the process, and key challenges and successes. The Commission appreciates the cooperation and assistance of the two governments in preparing the Special Report.
The IJC found a significant level of effort to restore the Great Lakes Areas of
Concern. Two of the areas in Canada have been delisted and one in each country
is recognized as being an Area of Concern in a recovery stage. To date,
approximately $33 million CND has been spent on sediment remediation and $270
million CND has been spent on wastewater infrastructure in Canadian Areas of
Concern. Approximately $160 million USD has been spent to remediate sediment
and several billion dollars on wastewater infrastructure in U.S. Areas of
Concern. The IJC also identifies key challenges facing the governments in
restoring the areas, including ensuring leadership and accountability, securing
resources, defining restoration targets, setting priorities and monitoring
Information on the status of restoration for each Area of Concern, using
indicators of progress, is compiled in the Special Report and found on the IJC
website. The IJC recommends that the two governments update the indicators of
progress and invites them to help maintain a "living," web-based document
available to the public.
Copies of Status of Restoration Activities in Great Lakes Areas of Concern: A
Special Report are available from the IJC website at www.ijc.org, or from an
IJC briefs Parliament on threat of alien invasive species
On February 11, the IJC appeared before the Standing Committee on Fisheries and
Oceans of the Canadian House of Commons. Commissioners briefed the committee on
the "biological and economic urgency" of the threat posed by alien aquatic
invasive species that continue to enter the Great Lakes ecosystem.
One invader alone, the zebra mussel, has cost the economies of both the United and Canada an estimated $10 billion since its introduction into the Great Lakes 15 years ago. Invaders have also wreaked untold ecological damage, disrupting food webs and threatening biodiversity, creating the possibility of what some researchers call an "invasional meltdown."
In their briefing, the commissioners also detailed the three "doorways" to invasion:
- The Front Door - the discharge of untreated ballast water or sludge brought in by foreign vessels and spread by intralake traffic;
- The Side Door - the Chicago Canal that connects the Mississippi and Great Lakes basins; and
- The Back Door - live fish markets, the sale of live bait and fish from aquariums and aquaculture.
In particular, the IJC presentation highlighted the threat posed by the Asian
Carp - an "aquatic vacuum cleaner" that if allowed to make its way up the
Chicago Canal and into Lake Michigan could potentially turn the Great Lakes
into a carp pond and destroy a $4.5 billion fishery that supports 75,000
To combat these alien invaders, the IJC made seven key recommendations, most
importantly a call for a reference from the United States and Canadian
governments to the IJC "to coordinate and harmonize binational efforts for
action to stop this ongoing threat to the economy and the biological integrity
of the Great Lakes."
In addition, the IJC recommended the following.
Canada and the United States must work together to harmonize and strengthen
the rules of commerce
Science must drive decision-making
Our nations must support additional research - into ship design, risk
assessment, rapid response and ballast water treatment technologies
We must provide for testing bench-scale technologies on full-scale boats
We must develop a decision support system to track ships in transit and to
evaluate their risk of spreading invasive species
We need a workable ballast water treatment standard and the means to enforce
U.S. Section Chair Dennis Schornack concluded the IJC presentation, noting, "In
1978, Canada and the United States agreed to a standard calling for the zero
discharge and virtual elimination of persistent toxic chemicals in the Great
Lakes. Now, 25 years later, we must be guided by that same vision as we act to
stop biological pollution that is just as persistent and just as dangerous as
Full text of remarks by Chair Herb Gray, Chair Dennis Schornack and
Commissioner Robert Gourd are available at www.ijc.org.
IJC to host 2003 Great Lakes Conference
and Biennial Meeting in September
Join the IJC September 19-20, 2003 on the campus of the University of Michigan
in Ann Arbor for two days of workshops and discussion on the most pressing
issues facing the Great Lakes.
Check out our web site at www.ijc.org/rel/2003biennial/index.php
for registration and the most up-to-date information about confirmed speakers,
workshop and session agendas, meeting materials and other events as they are planned
and scheduled between now and September.
- Inspiration and insight from the special RAP and LaMP pre-conference workshop on Thursday, September 18
- Becoming smarter - workshops on nine critical issues facing the Great Lakes today
- Restore the Greatness! Organizations from around the basin will discuss their plans for Great Lakes restoration
- Reconnecting and networking with friends and interesting people from the Great Lakes community.
Mark your calendar and register today!
Celebrating the IJC's
Dr. Gail Krantzberg, Director
Great Lakes Regional Office
Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. -
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The year 2001 was the United Nations International Year of Volunteers. It is
2003 and we are still celebrating. Some of our readers may not fully understand
how the International Joint Commission functions and the pivotal importance of
its volunteer base. The Commission receives learned analysis and advice from
its many volunteer boards, council and task forces (boards) in the execution of
its responsibilities. The boards examine matters that the Commission identifies
as priorities. Recommendations to the IJC emerge for government action and
environmental science and policy is illuminated for public discussion. In the
Great Lakes setting, the boards provide independent expertise to the Commission
as it evaluates and advises the two federal governments on progress toward
meeting their commitments under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. What
distinguishes this advice from other sources of information is the high caliber
of erudite analysis provided by the volunteers drawn from governments,
academia, industry and other sectors.
This volunteer base easily exceeds 100 individuals for the binational work on
the Great Lakes alone. There are also more than a 100 additional individuals
participating in the 14 boards and various task forces on behalf of the IJC
from coast to coast on both sides of our border. We credit the senior
officials from organizations for which these board members work. Many of you
truly understand the value gained by donating staff time to serve the
Commission. The Commission holds its board members in highest regard. Board
advice is authoritative and eminently respected. The expert research and
dialogue on science and policy that are fostered by the boards take place in an
atmosphere of scholarly debate, where the perspectives of a myriad of
binational, national, regional and local authorities can be openly shared.
Beyond the value to the Commission, such an environ enhances the knowledge base
of the board members and adds to the intellectual capacity of the agency to
which they report.
The Commission continues to seek ways to fully acknowledge the work of volunteers and to act, to the best of its ability, on the recommendations and advice received. A central element of the Commission's approach is to communicate its appreciation and respect for the volunteers broadly. We welcome this opportunity to voice our personal gratitude to all of you who have been working collectively towards the common goal of preventing and resolving disputes over the use of waters along the Canada-U.S. boundary. The energy expended by each board member in meetings, travel, teleconferences, writing, researching, coordinating and advising is immeasurable. Without you, we could not advise the governments and the public on progress under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement nor fulfill our other mandates. The Commissioners, secretaries and this director are committed to serve the boards needs and to facilitate progress. We call on all of the U.S.-Canada transboundary and Great Lakes communities to applaud your service and encourage your continued resolve for excellence.
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not. - Dr. Seuss
IJC advisors discuss
Great Lakes emerging issues
In February, a small group of senior scientists, policy makers and IJC
Commissioners met at the Wingspread Conference Center in Racine, Wisconsin for
an expert consultation on Great Lakes emerging issues. The IJC's Great Lakes
Science Advisory Board, in partnership with the Great Lakes Water Quality
Board, the International Air Quality Board and the Council of Great Lakes
Research Managers, co-hosted the meeting with the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency, Environment Canada and the Johnson Foundation. The principle objectives
of the expert consultation were to:
scope issues of importance for the Great Lakes over the next 25 years
facilitate a binational, interdisciplinary discourse among senior scientists
and policy makers
identify the most promising future opportunities for sustaining progress
under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
One interesting outcome was that no new threats to the Great Lakes were
suggested. Current problems, with some new variations, will likely continue to
be threats in the future largely because they have not yet been adequately
addressed. Such threats include chemical contaminants and their effects, excess
nutrients, climate change, exotic species, changes to the biological community,
shoreline development and suburban sprawl. While these topics are current
issues, the aspects that make them significant for the future were the focus of
Not all emerging issues were of a scientific nature. Two institutional issues
arose in several of the sessions: the need to coordinate Great Lakes management
roles and responsibilities among all levels of government for better decision
making and accountability, and the need for major reinvestment in scientific
infrastructure to improve monitoring and support ecosystem forecasting. The
discussions also seemed to return to a number of key questions, such as how do
we make wise decisions with limited information, how do we use new technologies
to 'get ahead of the curve' and how do we organize ourselves to deliver an
Findings and recommendations from the expert consultation on Great Lakes
emerging issues will be included in the 2001-2003 Priorities and Progress under
the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement report, to be published this fall in
advance of the IJC's Biennial Meeting to be held in Ann Arbor, Michigan on
September 19-20, 2003. The proceedings, including scientific background papers,
will also appear in the Journal of Great Lakes Research as a special topic
IJC reviews its Order
for Duck Lake
The IJC opened a review of its Order of Approval for Duck Lake in February by
inviting the public to comment on the issues the review should address. Duck
Lake is a 4000 acre (1,619-hectare) project in British Columbia near the Idaho
border at the upstream end of Kootenay Lake. It is isolated from Kootenay Lake
by a system of IJC-approved dykes, dating back to 1949. The dykes around Duck
Lake have the potential to raise water levels on the Kootenay River in the
United States for certain rare floods, by about four or five inches (10-13
centimeters) at the international boundary and about half that amount at
Bonners Ferry, Idaho. The likelihood of such rare floods has been further
reduced by the construction of Duncan and Libby Dams upstream of Duck
The IJC's review was prompted by public concern over the effects of water
levels management on bass, and a request has been made to transfer the
management of Duck Lake water levels to local authorities. Given the public
concerns, the 30-year period since the Order was last considered, and the
reduced but continuing potential for transboundary effects, the Commission
decided to review the Order for Duck Lake without prejudice to the end result.
After considering public comment, the IJC will identify any needed studies this
summer, and initiating them if funding permits. Public meetings are anticipated
in fall 2003 to invite further public comment, including on the process to date
and on any available results or proposals.
IJC participates in Red River basin summit
In January, Commissioners Herb Gray, Dennis Schornack, Jack Blaney, Irene
Brooks and Allen Olson attended the 20th Annual Red River Basin Land and Water
International Summit Conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The conference, which
was sponsored by the Red River Basin Commission, helps set the course for
watershed management activities and draws key officials and stakeholders from
throughout the Red River Basin. During his keynote address, Chair Gray
highlighted the Commission's role in the Red River basin and encouraged basin
organizations to continue their efforts to improve flood mitigation.
The Commission sponsored a working discussion among key staff from Manitoba,
North Dakota, and Minnesota, along with members of the Commission's
International Red River Board. Participants discussed approaches for developing
a binational comprehensive plan for flood mitigation on a watershed basis, as
called for in the Commission's 2000 report Living with the Red. The
International Red River Board will be reporting this summer on actions taken by
governments at all levels to address all the recommendations in Living with the
Red, and its report is expected to be useful to in-basin efforts to develop a
framework for a comprehensive plan for flood mitigation.
Dr. Anders Andren is a professor in the Civil and Environmental and Water Chemistry Program at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He was appointed to the IJC's Great Lakes Science Advisory Board (GLSAB) in 1987 and served through 2002. During his appointment, Dr. Andren actively participated in the writing of eight annual and biennial GLSAB reports, and served as the U.S. co-chair of the Virtual Elimination Task Force from 1990 - 1993. His length of service to the GLSAB is the longest of anyone having served this board.
Dr. Andren is recognized for his commitment to science and long standing
contribution in promoting the development of greater knowledge and
understanding of the Great Lakes, as a basis for restoring and maintaining the
integrity of the waters and for fulfilling the purpose of the Great Lakes Water
While stepping down from active GLSAB membership, he will continue to
participate as a member of its Work Group on Emerging Issues, and work closely
with the Council of Great Lakes Research Managers in further developing his
idea of a "Great Lakes Integrated Observation and Monitoring System." Such a
system would greatly strengthen the role of science in policy and management
Mr. Kelly Burch was an active a member of the IJC's Great Lakes Water Quality Board from 1996 through 2002. During his tenure, Mr. Burch served as the Water Quality Board lead on the Indicators Implementation Task Force, Lake Erie Modeling Project, Sediment Priority Action Committee, Annex 2 Task Force and others.
In his capacity as Regional Director for the Pennsylvania Department of
Environmental Protection, Mr. Burch was instrumental in the development of a
Remedial Action Plan for Presque Isle Bay, now redesignated as an Area of
Concern in Recovery Stage, and served as chair of its Public Advisory
Committee. He was involved with development of Lake Erie Lakewide Management
Plan, a crucial component of Annex 2 of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
On December 23rd, 2002, Dr. Murray Clamen, secretary of the Canadian Section of the International Joint Commission, received the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal. This honor is awarded to those persons who have made a significant contribution to Canada, their community or their fellow Canadians. Dr. Clamen was nominated for an exemplary 25-year career within the Canadian Federal Government.
June 16, 2003
Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Study Board-PIAG public meeting, St. Catharines, ON
June 19, 2003
International St. Lawrence River Board of Control public meeting, Dorval, Quebec
June 19, 2003
Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Study Board-PIAG public meeting, Wilson, NY
June 26, 2003
International Lake Superior Board of Control public meeting, Sault Ste. Marie, ON
July 17, 2003
International Red River Board public meeting, Emerson, MB
August 20, 2003
International St. Croix River Board of Control public meeting, Calais, ME
Biennial Meeting on Great Lakes Water Quality, Ann Arbor, MI
IJC welcomes the following recent appointments to its boards