November 25, 1996
||(519)257-6710 or (313)226-2170
More Data and Information Needed in
Lake Superior Lakewide Management Plan
Completion of the problem definition for Critical Pollutant loadings
to Lake Superior was a "significant milestone" in the efforts to restore
the lake's water quality, according to the International Joint Commission.
The problem of Critical Pollutant loadings was defined in the Stage
1 Lakewide Management Plan (LaMP) for Lake Superior submitted to
the Commission for its review by the Governments of Canada and the United
States in accordance with the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
A LaMP is a plan to reduce loadings of Critical Pollutants in open
lake waters so that the water is safe for drinking, swimming and fishing,
and supports healthy fish and wildlife populations along with other
"beneficial uses" listed in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
Critical Pollutants are substances that persist, singly or in combination
with other substances, at levels that impair beneficial uses. The
22 Critical Pollutants designated in the Stage 1 LaMP for Lake
Superior include pesticides (chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, toxaphene) and
other organic substances (PCBs, dioxin, hexachlorobenzene) as well as
metals (copper, iron, lead, mercury).
The designation of Critical Pollutants appears to be reasonable, according
to the Commission. The Commission complimented the methodology and explicit
criteria used to designate Critical Pollutants and concluded that a
suitable mechanism is in place to accommodate any potential revisions
to the list.
The Commission also complimented the Lake Superior Forum as an excellent
example of meaningful public participation in the LaMP process. "Forum
members should be recognized for their devotion as well as pertinent
input," according to the Commission. The forum is a public advisory
group for the Lake Superior Binational Program.
The Commission also noted that achievement of the Lake Superior LaMP's
goals would be furthered by providing additional data and information
in the following areas:
- Link between exposure to specific Critical Pollutants and
threats to human health
- Loadings of Critical Pollutants
- Atmospheric loadings of Critical Pollutants to the Lake
Superior basin and sources from outside the basin.
To date, the threat to human health or aquatic life is not well defined
and consequently, there is little reason to expect significant public
support for lifestyle changes or modifications to industrial processes
that may be needed to reduce loadings of Critical Pollutants, according
to the Commission. Previous studies have linked pollutants found in
the Great Lakes to a range of health effects including impaired functioning
of the immune system, reproductive system and central nervous system.
Due to the significance of the atmospheric loadings of certain Critical
Pollutants, additional information is required to develop the load reduction
schedule needed for the Stage 2 LaMP, according to the Commission. Two
topics that require particular attention are the actual contribution
of atmospheric loadings of Critical Pollutants and sources outside the
Lake Superior basin. Although data are limited, it appears that atmospheric
deposition is the dominant pathway for entry of most Critical Pollutants
to Lake Superior. The true scope of the problem also needs to be conveyed
in a way that is easy to understand to ensure public support for necessary
The Agreement requires that LaMPs be submitted to the Commission for
its review and comment at four stages: problem definition, load reduction
schedule, selection of remedial measures and when Critical Pollutants
are no longer impairing beneficial water uses.
The International Joint Commission was established under the Boundary
Waters Treaty of 1909 to help the two Governments to prevent and resolve
disputes over use of waters along the U.S. and Canada boundary. Under
the 1978 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the Commission assesses
progress by the two countries to restore and maintain the chemical,
physical and biological integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes Basin
Ecosystem. For more information, visit the Commission's worldwide web
For further information contact Bruce Kirschner at the International
Joint Commission Regional Office, 100 Ouellette Avenue, Windsor, Ontario
(519-257-6710) or P.O. Box 32869, Detroit, Michigan (313-226-2170) or
on the Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org