April 20, 2006
IJC releases report of public views on the review
of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement
Today the IJC released a report, Synthesis of Public Comment on the Forthcoming Review by the Federal Governments of Canada and the United States of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The report captures the views of more than 4,100 people and organizations who participated in a public consultation the IJC led this fall.
The report is the culmination of a process that began in June 2005 when the governments of Canada and the United States asked the IJC to seek the public's views on the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and its review. The Commission held 15 public meetings around the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence basin, conducted an innovative, four-day interactive Web Dialogue and received comments by e-mail, mail, fax and telephone.
The consultation demonstrated that there is a strong constituency for efforts carried out by the Governments under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Several main themes emerged during the Commission's public comment process:
- Participants expressed strong support for the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and wanted all levels of government to reinvigorate their efforts to implement it.
- Participants demanded good water quality and said it is essential to ensure a healthy future for the lakes and the socio-economic well being of the basin's residents and their communities.
- Many concerns related to releases of municipal sewage and animal wastes. Participants wanted initiatives to address these issues included in a revised Agreement.
- Many participants were concerned about water quantity and climate change and wanted these issues to be addressed in the review of the Agreement.
- Considerable concern was expressed about aquatic invasive species and many participants also wanted this issue to be included in a revised Agreement.
- Participants were concerned about a variety of land use and watershed management issues. Many thought that these should be addressed during the review, especially the protection of wetlands.
- There was a great deal of comment on the lack of progress toward delisting and restoring beneficial uses in Areas of Concern, as well as the need to reinvigorate Remedial Action Plans.
- Participants in different parts of the basin said the Agreement should include the St. Lawrence River, downstream of the international boundary at Cornwall, Ontario and Massena, New York.
- Many participants thought that more public education efforts are needed to build support for Great Lakes restoration.
- Many participants voiced support for a stronger Commission role to hold Governments accountable for achieving their Agreement commitments, to educate the public about the Agreement and to facilitate public input during the review of the Agreement.
The governments of Canada and the United States have now begun their review of the Agreement and will draw on the IJC's Synthesis Report in that process.
The Synthesis Report is available in French and English at http://www.ijc.org/en/activities/consultations/glwqa/synth.php in HTML and PDF formats. A printed version and a CD of the full record (e-mails, transcripts, correspondence, etc.) are available on request.
The International Joint Commission prevents and resolves disputes between the United States of America 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.