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September 28, 2009

IJC Releases 14th Biennial Report

WINDSOR, Ontario - The International Joint Commission today released its Fourteenth Biennial Report on Great Lakes Water Quality. Under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (Article VII), the International Joint Commission reports to the federal, state and provincial governments biennially concerning its findings on their progress toward achieving the Agreement’s general and specific objectives. The Commission’s report, which is released to the public, is also to assess the effectiveness of programs and other measures undertaken pursuant to the Agreement.

For its 14th Biennial Report on Great Lakes Water Quality, the Commission chose to focus on programs to abate, control and prevent pollution from municipal sources entering the Great Lakes System. The objective was to survey existing programs aimed at controlling surface-water pollution and to provide an overview of the current situation.

"We chose to focus this biennial report on pollution from municipal sources because it is still difficult to assess whether programs to abate, control, and prevent such pollution are meeting the requirements of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement” said the Rt. Hon. Herb Gray, Chair of the IJC’s Canadian Section.

“Although governments at all levels have undertaken actions to improve conditions over the years, the quality of the water discharged from some municipalities suggests that considerable work is yet to be done before the water quality is suitably protected” said Irene Brooks, Chair of the IJC’s U.S. Section.

The economic consequences of polluted discharges of wastewater are substantial. Impacts include increased costs for treating drinking water, decreases in property value, lost productivity from illness, increased health care costs and lost revenue from recreation and tourism. In this context, the Commission makes the following recommendations regarding pollution from municipal sources:

  1. Ensure that the economic-stimulus measures now being developed address wastewater system needs in the Great Lakes basin.
  2. More effectively link watershed management with the permitting process for municipal and industrial dischargers.
  3. Make use of third-party audits to improve compliance with water-quality standards or objectives in the Great Lakes.
  4. Encourage the adoption of “green infrastructure” to complement traditional infrastructure investments.

For additional information or a copy of the report visit the Commission's website at:

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.


Ottawa Bernard Beckhoff (613) 947-1420
Washington Frank Bevacqua (202) 736-9024

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