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June 27, 1996

INTERNATIONAL JOINT COMMISSION
Windsor/Detroit: Jennifer Day 519-257-6733 or 313-226-2170
Ottawa: Fabien Lengellé 613-995-0088
Washington, D.C.: Frank Bevacqua 202-736-9024

GOVERNMENTS MUST MAINTAIN COMMITMENTS AND ACTION TO REACH GOALS OF GREAT LAKES WATER QUALITY AGREEMENT

Governments must maintain their dedication to programs aimed at improving and protecting Great Lakes water quality, despite threatened cutbacks to environmental programs and deregulation proposals in both countries, concludes the International Joint Commission in its Eighth Biennial Report on Great Lakes Water Quality, released today.

Since the Governments of Canada and the United States signed the first Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement 24 years ago, a variety of regulatory and pollution prevention programs -- as well as industry investments in pollution control and prevention technology -- have resulted in considerable progress towards the restoration of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem. Together, they provide a model of cooperative environmental research and management for the world.

In its Eighth Biennial Report, the Commission commends both countries for this progress, but warns that the following current proposals for cutbacks in environmental requirements and funding could jeopardize these accomplishments as well as future progress:

  • proposals to weaken regulatory frameworks that underpin pollution control and other effective programs, including reporting and compliance requirements
  • erosion of funding and expertise for research, monitoring and enforcement, and transferred responsibilities to other levels of government without the requisite resources.

A recent study by the Commission 's Council of Great Lakes Research Managers shows that between 1994 and 1997, 31 major Great Lakes research organizations expect:

  • reductions in funding of 26 to 50 percent, from $88.9 million to $44.2 - 65.7 million U.S. dollars, and
  • reductions in research positions from 47 to 62 percent, or from 709 to 269-378 staff positions.

Continued commitment is needed to protect past progress in cleaning up and protecting the Great Lakes ecosystem and to implement additional programs necessary to achieve the objectives of the 1978 Agreement.

The Commission also highlights the growing importance of controlling air pollution as a critical component of Great Lakes environmental strategies. Increasingly, data is showing larger proportions of pollution entering the lakes from the air, from local, North American and even global sources. Other issues for increased attention under the Agreement include:

  • monitoring and managing radionuclides
  • long-term effects of climate change in a binational context
  • controlling ground-level ozone, which has human and ecological health impacts
  • sustaining biological habitat and diversity, and preventing additional exotic species invasions
  • improving environmental health information and training for health professionals.

The International Joint Commission was created by the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty between the U.S. and Canada to prevent and resolve issues facing boundary waters. The Commission's report is issued biennially as required in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. For additional copies, contact any of the Commission offices as listed below, or on the Internet via:

http://www.ijc.org/php/publications/html/8bre.html


To request additional copies of the report, contact one of the International Joint Commission offices at the following addresses:


Great Lakes Regional Office
100 Ouellette Avenue, Eighth floor
Windsor, ON N9A 6T3

(519)257-6734 telephone
(519)257-6740 fax
OR P.O. Box 32869
Detroit, MI 48232

(313)226-2170 telephone
bondyd@windsor.ijc.org


U.S. Section
1250 23rd Street N.W., Suite 100
Washington, D.C. 20440

(202)736-9000 telephone
(202)736-9015 fax
bevacquaf@washington.ijc.org


Canadian Section
100 Metcalfe Street, 18th floor
Ottawa, ON K1P 5M1

(613)995-2984 telephone
(613)993-5583 fax
http://www.ijc.org/fr/contacts/contacts.htm

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