September 13, 2004

IJC Report on Great Lakes Water Quality Issued,
Review of the Agreement Begins

The International Joint Commission today released its Twelfth Biennial Report on Great Lakes Water Quality. This important report not only addresses the current issues facing the health and vitality of the Great Lakes – it triggers the official review, by the United States and Canada, of the historic Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

In this report to the governments of the U.S. and Canada, the IJC highlights key issues for all who live in the Great Lakes region. It contains specific recommendations relating to the effects of urbanization on our lakes; threats associated with alien invasive species; pathogens and disease bearing microorganisms in drinking water sources; chemical contamination, methyl mercury and human health; and the recent ecological changes taking place in Lake Erie.

Significantly, this report triggers the much anticipated review, by governments, of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The current Agreement was signed in 1978 and was amended in 1987. It has not been updated or changed in more than 17 years. During this time, technology and our scientific knowledge and understanding have grown immensely. We need to keep pace with what we know and review the effectiveness of the Agreement with an eye toward the future.

Fact sheets providing detailed information and the IJC’s recommendations about each individual topic and illustrations and graphics for use from the Twelfth Biennial Report are available at

The Twelfth Biennial Report is available in hard copy or CD in both English and French free of charge and may also be obtained on IJC’s website at Obtain a hard copy by contacting the IJC’s Great Lakes Regional Office in Canada at 100 Ouellette Ave., Suite 800, Windsor, ON N9A 6T3; phone (519)257-6733; in the U.S. at P.O. Box 32869, Detroit, MI 48232, phone (313)226-2170 ext. 6733; or email to

For more information, please contact:

Windsor/Detroit: Jennifer Day (519) 257-6733 or (313) 226-2170
Washington, D.C.: Frank Bevacqua (202) 736-9024
Ottawa: Nick Heisler (613) 992-8367

Ce communiqué est également disponible en français.

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