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International Joint Commission
United States and Canada

MEDIA RELEASE  

August 21 th , 2003  

THE INTERNATIONAL JOINT COMMISSION INVITES THE PUBLIC TO PARTICIPATE IN ITS BIENNIAL MEETING FOCUSING ON “RESTORING THE GREATNESS” OF THE GREAT LAKES

WINDSOR, Ontario and ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The International Joint Commission (IJC) will convene its 2003 Great Lakes Conference and Biennial Meeting in Ann Arbor, September 19 and 20, 2003 to move toward consensus within the Great Lakes community on the priorities for a comprehensive water quality restoration plan, and to discuss the state of scientific knowledge on issues such as alien invasive species, mercury, Lake Erie, fish consumption advisories, climate change and water levels. Detailed information and agendas for the events, which will be held on the campus of the University of Michigan, can be found on the IJC website, www.ijc.org.

The IJC is inviting citizens, scientists, elected officials and industry to focus on “ Restoring The Greatness ” of the Great Lakes, the largest body of fresh water in the world.

“Everyone in the Great Lakes basin shares the goal of water that is safe to drink, fish that are safe to eat and beaches that are safe for swimming,” said Dennis L. Schornack, chair of the U.S. Section of the IJC. “At this conference, participants can share ideas and develop strategies on how to achieve those goals. From closing the door to alien invasive species, to cleaning up toxic hotspots, our number one goal is restoring the greatness of the Great Lakes.”

The focus of the two-day event will be to discuss the issues of concern and solutions to restore physical, chemical and biological integrity of the Great Lakes, the goals of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. For example, workshops on Friday, September 19, will focus on timely issues such as the prevention of alien invasive species, including the Asian carp and zebra mussel; urbanization and its effects on water quality; climate change; mercury contamination and human health; the changing state of Lake Erie, ground water and aquatic habitat rehabilitation; and water-level regulation issues.

“By bringing together leaders in science, government, academia and the citizenry, we are seeking to arrive at outcomes that will help continue to improve the quality of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River system,” says the Right Honourable Herb Gray, chair of the Canadian Section of the IJC and former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada. The Right Honourable Herb Gray recently received Canada's highest honour, being appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada.

The Biennial Meeting concludes with a moderated dialogue and town hall meeting regarding restoration of the Great Lakes on Saturday, September 20. At this session, noted public television commentator Tim Skubick will moderate a conversation among the public, key environmental organizations, the IJC Commissioners and representatives of government that are all working toward restoration plans for the future of the Great Lakes.

Just prior to the Biennial Meeting, the IJC will hold a workshop for those interested in restoring the Areas of Concern around the Great Lakes basin and implementing the Lakewide Management Plans. This all-day event will be held in Ann Arbor on Thursday, September 18, 2003.

The IJC prevents and resolves disputes between the United States and Canada under the 1909 boundary Waters Treaty and pursues the common good of both countries as an independent and objective advisor to the two governments.

In particular, the IJC assists the two countries in the protection of the transboundary environment, including the implementation of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and the improvement of transboundary air quality; and it alerts the governments to emerging issues along the boundary that may give rise to bilateral disputes. The IJC rules upon applications for approval of projects affecting boundary or transboundary waters and regulates the operation of these projects.

The IJC has six members, three appointed by the President of the United States, and three appointed by the Prime Minister and Cabinet of Canada. It is assisted by 19 boards comprised of experts on issues dealt with by the IJC from coast to coast.

The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement gave the IJC the responsibility of assisting the governments of the United States and Canada in achieving the goals of the agreement.

For more information about the International Joint IJC's 2003 Great Lakes Conference and Biennial Meeting “ Restoring The Greatness ,” contact:

Jennifer Day, Public Affairs Director at (313) 226-2170 or http://www.ijc.org/en/contacts/contacts.htm.

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