INTERNATIONAL JOINT COMMISSION
1999 GREAT LAKES WATER QUALITY FORUM
SEPTEMBER 24-26, 1999
LIGHTLY EDITED, VERBATIM TRANSCRIPT
SUNDAY MORNING, SEPTEMBER 26
Margaret Wooster, Great Lakes United
I know I spoke before. I am sorry ... I felt it would be remiss, and I am not speaking for myself,
or even GLU right now. But we did do a series of public hearings, 10 of them in 10 cities around
the Great Lakes last year. I am going to leave you a copy of this although you have probably all
We visited 10 cities and the hearings were on water quality. Sort of like taking this public forum
on the road. We heard testimony from about 300 citizens. I wanted to read you about maybe six
recommendations from the summary at the back. These are addressed both to the International
Joint Commission and to the governments.
- Local communities should be more meaningfully involved in cleanup plans, including
development of design and siting options for disposal facilities, and should have veto
power over planned implementation.
- Related to that in terms of health and cleanup, health agencies should initiate and
coordinate registries, to better track and protect community health. For example, cancer
treatment centres should record information on the occupational and locational histories
of their patients. All chemicals used, produced or released in the community should be
identified and registered and health effects should be tracked in higher polluted
communities, such as Areas of Concern. That was something we heard quite a bit and
heard talk about it here as well.
- The International Joint Commission should facilitate planning for just transition to a
sustainable economy. Governments, labour and industry, and community members
should jointly make these plans.
Under zero discharge, which was by far the biggest thing we heard in terms of number of
- Governments should reaffirm and fulfill their commitment under the Great Lakes Water
Quality Agreement to virtual elimination and the philosophy of zero discharge of long-lived toxic substances.
- The government should implement the recommendation by the International Joint
Commission that the political will must be found. This is a quote from you, from your
Ninth Biennial, that the political will must be found and financial resources allocated to
dredge and remove contamination sediments.
- The International Joint Commission should recommend that the federal government
designate the Serpent River basin as an Area of Concern. The Canadian federal
government should develop and fully fund a cleanup plan for the area. Just to comment
on that, one of the proposed changes to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement
annexes is to have this area of recovery designation as a step toward delisting. There are
areas that need to be added to the list, and the Serpent River basin is one of them.
Finally, there are many more. I am just picking so I don't take up too much time. The last one I
want to report here that:
- Federal governments should set clear time tables for phasing out and banning persistent
toxic substances, and support clean production technology and process changes.
I am going to leave this with you. Thank you very much.