International Joint Commission
Autumn/Winter 2003
Volume 28, Issue 2

Restoring the Greatness!
2003 Great Lakes Conference and Biennial Meeting

Conference attendants at one of nine workshops given Friday, Sept. 19th

On Saturday, September 20, the IJC concluded its 2003 Great Lakes Conference and Biennial Meeting with a commitment to assist the Canadian and United States governments with their forthcoming review of the 1978 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Commissioners heard from numerous leaders and citizens that both governments need to develop a reinvigorated program to restore the integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem and to commit to the full implementation of that program.

In publicly recognizing that great science is key to Great Lakes restoration, the IJC named Dr. Jan Ciborowski, from the University of Windsor, the first recipient of its Biennium Award for Great Lakes Science. Dr. Ciborowski was honored for his outstanding contributions to the Lake Erie Millennium Network and its assessment of ecosystem health. His research has had a significant positive influence on environmental quality and the health of the Great Lakes and has been invaluable in the binational effort of restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical and biological integrity of our Great Lakes.

In his keynote address at the Biennial Meeting, Dr. Ciborowski noted, "The Great Lakes are in much better condition than they were 30 years ago, but are still challenged by new stresses building on the legacy of our past actions. To anticipate and mitigate the effects of these stresses, we must understand the underlying ecosystem processes. This can't be done through crisis management. Binational initiatives similar to the (Lake Erie) Millennium Network on the other Great Lakes could bring together the people and resources necessary to assess their unique characteristics."

The Commissioners congratulate Dr. Ciborowski on receiving the Biennium Award for Great Lakes Science

Over two days, meeting participants explored a wide range of challenges facing the Great Lakes, such as climate change, urbanization, alien invasive species, habitat restoration and mercury impacts. Most everyone agrees that the lakes would benefit from a clear vision toward clean up and several organizations, including governments, presented their views and plans for Great Lakes restoration.

The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement is a landmark document providing a vision for cooperation. It requires that the governments of Canada and the United States review the agreement after every third Biennial Report from the IJC. The agreement has not been updated or modified since the addition of the 1987 protocol.

The convergence of several factors make this an ideal time for review. Scientific knowledge and ecological conditions have changed dramatically in the past 30 years, several specific objectives and annexes of the agreement need updating and new challenges to the waters of the entire ecosystem must be addressed. Also, a review of the agreement is called for after the issuance of the IJC's Twelfth Biennial Report in 2004; there is growing interest in the U.S. Congress for a major Great Lakes restoration initiative; and the potential exists for renewal of the Canadian federal Great Lakes Program in 2005.

The IJC will be advising the governments of Canada and the United States on aspects of the agreement that need revision and identifying issues not currently included. It also will consider and recommend to the governments the reporting required to track progress, the establishment of effective implementation mechanisms, and how best to maintain accountability to the public. The IJC will outline its advice to the both governments in a special report in 2004.

In developing advice and recommendations to governments on possible revisions to the agreement, the Commissioners have committed to consult with a broad cross section of basin representatives and to consider the broadest possible array of perspectives. The Commissioners will also request a mandate from the governments of Canada and the United States defining a "substantial" role for the IJC in the agreement's review.

Photos from the 2003 Great Lakes Conference and Biennial Meeting

Commissioners Corner
by IJC Co-Chairs
Dennis Schornack and Herb Gray

The recent IJC Great Lakes Conference and Biennial Meeting in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was the first opportunity for five of the six current commissioners to participate in an event that concludes two years of work on the critical challenges facing the Great Lakes basin ecosystem. The forum also contributed to the growing momentum in support of a major Great Lakes restoration initiative.

At the Biennial, the "Restoring the Greatness" session gave stakeholders from across the basin the chance to learn about the many restoration plans that have been proposed by governments and other interested organizations and to identify the common elements shared by the plans. As part of the moderated discussion, participants were asked to list their top three restoration priorities for the Great Lakes and the results showed a impressive level of agreement.

For example, it was certainly no surprise that preventing the further introduction of alien invasive species was cited as a priority by more than half of respondents. Continuing work to clean up Areas of Concern by removing contaminated sediments was also cited as a very clear priority. Many respondents also cited the need to improve air quality in transboundary areas. Other priorities that were most frequently mentioned include land use and sustainable development, habitat protection and restoration and concerns regarding water diversions, including the need for conservation.

While this poll of participants at the Biennial was unscientific, their responses might give policy makers in both Washington and Ottawa a rough blueprint to guide them as they flesh out the details of their restoration agendas. In addition, the survey results will help the IJC as we develop our advice to governments on the review of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. For example, the growing concern regarding invasive species suggests a need to focus greater attention on restoring the biological integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes. Certainly, in this regard we look forward to receiving a reference from the two governments, asking us to recommend ways to harmonize regulations in Canada and the U.S. to help close the door to invasive species while keeping the doors to commerce open.

The IJC Welcomes New U.S. Secretary

Lisa Bourget has been selected secretary of the U.S. Section of the IJC. In this position, she will serve as the principal administrator of the U.S. Section, lead policy development, manage staff and provide guidance to IJC boards and study teams.

Since October 1995, Bourget was the engineering advisor to the U.S. Section. In this capacity, she developed integrated engineering and ecosystem management strategies to guide the operations of 19 dams and other structures regulated by the IJC and assisted with broad watershed management responsibilities. She also served as the U.S. Section's principal representative to a dozen binational IJC boards, and was the lead U.S. staff member for the IJC study following the devastating 1997 Red River flood in North Dakota, Minnesota and Manitoba.

Ms. Bourget holds a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from the University of Virginia and a masters degree in Business Administration from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She is active in the American Society of Civil Engineers' Environmental and Water Resources Institute and serves as chair of its International Cooperation Council.

Bourget succeeds Dr. Gerry Galloway, who served as secretary of the U.S. Section since 1998. Dedicated to water resource management, Dr. Galloway is appreciated for his many professional contributions and leadership to the IJC. The Commission wishes him success in his future endeavors.

2001-2003 Priorities and Progress under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement ...
Pick up your copy now!

In preparation for writing its Twelfth Biennial Report on Great Lakes Water Quality, the IJC has released the 2001-2003 Priorities and Progress under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, authored by its advisory boards and council on the Great Lakes.

The IJC is responsible for evaluating the governments' progress in implementing Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, identifying unmet challenges and recommending solutions. It relies on the work and investigations of its advisory boards and council and on public consultation.

The report covers four specific priority issues investigated by the boards and council: mercury; Remedial Action Plans; urbanization and the water quality linkage; and climate change impacts in the Great Lakes basin. In addition, the boards investigated emerging issues for the Great Lakes in the 21st century. This Priorities Report conveys a wealth of information and state-of-the-art analyses of select research, scientific and policy arenas fundamental for advancing stewardship of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem.

In addition to detailing their work on each issue, the boards also provide valuable advice and recommendations to the IJC for its use in writing the Twelfth Biennial Report on Great Lakes Water Quality, providing official advice to the governments of Canada and the United States regarding the restoration and cleanup of the Great Lakes.

Climate Change and Water Quality
in the Great Lakes Basin

The IJC's Water Quality Board has released a comprehensive report that provides valuable insight and advice on an issue that could have significant implications for the Great Lakes. The report, Climate Change and Water Quality in the Great Lakes Basin, includes a "white paper" by climate change experts Joel Scheraga, Linda Mortsch and Marianne Alden, which explores risks, opportunities, and responses associated with climate change and Great Lakes water quality. It also includes the proceedings of the Board's climate change workshop; a presentation by Georges Beauchemin that provides practical insight about how to deal with the consequences of climate change; and advice to the IJC. The report is available on CD from the IJC's Great Lakes Regional Office and on the web at

Having a Say on the Review of the
Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement

by G. Krantzberg, Director,
Great Lakes Regional Office

The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement is a landmark document that has served as a blueprint for cooperation and coordination of Great Lakes research, science and policy for more than three decades. Article X (4) of the agreement requires that the federal governments undertake a comprehensive review of the operation and effectiveness of the agreement after every third biennial report from the IJC. No review has resulted in changes since 1987.

The IJC's Twelfth Biennial Report, to be released in 2004, will trigger this review at a time when there is growing interest among many organizations for thorough and thoughtful scrutiny.

Consistent with that pervasive sentiment is the recommendation to the IJC from the Science Advisory Board. In the 2001-2003 Priorities Report, the board recommended that the governments "conduct a comprehensive review of the operation and effectiveness of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and seek public input, with a view to substantially revising it to reflect a current vision of water quality goals, priorities and institutional arrangements. Such a review should also consider greater accountability for implementation and for measuring progress, including ... actions deemed essential to achieve important water quality goals."

These are strong words that reflect a desire for revitalized leadership and rejuvenated stewardship for our Great Lakes. In face of this challenge, the Commissioners stated, during their Biennial Meeting on September 20, 2003, their commitment to actively assist the Canadian and United States governments with their forthcoming review.

Why the heightened interest now? Scientific knowledge and ecological conditions have changed dramatically over the agreement's 30-year history. No one can argue otherwise. Nor is there disagreement that many of the Specific Objectives and Annexes need updating to be fully relevant in the 21st century. Layering upon this backdrop are matters that have not been dealt with well in the Great Lakes. How do we collectively mitigate or respond to the complex products of climate change, urbanization, alien invasive species, habitat degradation, groundwater depletion, and toxic chemicals, including a bewildering array of emerging chemicals? How does a diversity of institutions with their own priorities converse and converge on a unified vision for Great Lakes ecosystem improvement and protection?

Individual concerns were presented during the Town Hall Meeting,
Saturday, Sept. 20th

The IJC will be advising the governments of Canada and the United States on the current agreement and options for further consideration in the context of an overall Great Lakes vision. We will recommend how to improve implementation and maintain accountability to the public and to the members of our shared ecosystem that have no voice.

To develop such advice and recommendations, the IJC needs to hear from you. We must listen to and consider the broadest possible array of perspectives. You must have the opportunity to have your say. We are all potential architects of a new Great Lakes future. Make a commitment to participate in an open, transparent, objective process. Let's take this task on with honesty and integrity. And because the Commission knows you will rise to this challenge, we thank you for making the lakes great.

Special Recognition

Don McKay

The IJC expresses its gratitude to Dr. Don McKay for his contribution to the work of the IJC.

On his retirement from Canadian government service, Don submitted his resignation from the International Air Quality Advisory Board. As the Canadian co-chair of the board from December 1996 to June 2003, Don provided valuable advice and guidance in all aspects of its transboundary air quality mandate. During his tenure, he promoted increased cooperation between Canada and the United States in addressing transboundary air quality issues and led revisions to the form and content of reports to the Commission to make information more accessible on progress in achieving improved air quality.

Don brought skills and experience gained from both academia and the Canadian civil service, including a Doctorate in Micrometeorology from the University of Guelph and an Masters of Business Administration from the University of Toronto, to bear on his work for the board. In over 30 years at the Atmospheric Environment Service of Canada, he guided and directed many aspects of their ground breaking research into the sources and fate of air pollutants. His scientific and policy expertise and extensive contacts, both nationally and internationally, were a great asset to the IJC.

Don is continuing his contribution to the air quality field with the consulting firm ORTECH Environmental in the Greater Toronto area.

Doug Brown

The IJC appreciates Doug Brown's contributions to its work as a water resource engineer and with regret accepted his resignation as a member of the International St. Lawrence River Board of Control this past July and the International Rainy Lake Board of Control in September.

Doug provided sound technical and policy advice as a member of both boards and provided leadership and valuable sup