Semi-Annual meetings held in the spring and fall by the IJC are an opportunity for commissioners and board members to discuss ongoing and upcoming projects to protect and restore waters along the Canadian-US boundary. At the most-recent Semi-Annual, held in late October at the IJC’s Canadian Section office in Ottawa, it also was a time to recognize board members for their service.
People from a variety of backgrounds serve on the IJC’s many boards, and recognition is one way to show appreciation for all they do. Board members include retirees, private citizens and others who dedicate time away from government, academic and other jobs to serve the public and work to solve problems in various watersheds.
Those recognized at fall board appearances by the Commission included current and former members of the Great Lakes Water Quality Board:
- John Jackson, who has been a leader in the board’s investigation of flame retardant chemicals (PBDEs) in the basin, with a focus on policies to address issues with the chemicals. Jackson worked with Great Lakes United (GLU), a coalition of citizens' groups in Canada and the U.S., for 30 years. He was responsible for GLU's programs on nuclear issues, including radioactive waste, water quality and water quantity; and binational issues including the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin Sustainable Waters Agreement.
- Tinka Hyde, who served on the board from March 2017 to June 2018 as a representative from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Hyde was a member of the board’s Legacy Issues Work Group, which examines and assesses regulations, policies programs and actions related to chemicals and pollutants impacting the water quality of the Great Lakes. She contributed to the development of the board’s 2017 reports on Watershed Management of Nutrients in Lake Erie and Addressing Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers in the Great Lakes Basin: Searching for Solutions to Key Challenges.
- Karl Gebhardt, who served on the board for three and a half years, ending in August 2018, as a representative from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Gebhardt was a member of the board’s Emerging Issues Work Group, which focuses on identifying Great Lakes emerging issues and recommending strategies and approaches for addressing these potential challenges. He contributed to the development of the board’s 2017 report on Climate Change and Adaptation in the Great Lakes along with ongoing work on wetlands in the Great Lakes.
The Commission also recognized Fred Luckey for his work on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Adaptive Management Committee (GLAM). Luckey recently retired from US EPA and concluded his GLAM membership in August. He was an original member, appointed in early 2015, and brought a wealth of knowledge regarding Great Lakes fisheries and wetlands.
Dr. Gwyn Graham was recognized for work on three boards. Graham had been Canadian secretary since 2011 of the Osoyoos Lake, Kootenay Lake and Columbia River boards before concluding his service earlier this year.
On the Osoyoos, he shepherded the IJC through an expansion to include public members and was instrumental in the execution of the recent Osoyoos Lake Rule Curve Review and developing a communications protocol for providing water level updates to the community. On the Kootenay, he developed strong partnerships with hydropower companies and the community, working on the proposed Grohman Narrows dredging project by BC Hydro and regularly updating the community on water level forecasts and targets provided from dam operators.
Commissioners also recognized Charlene Mason, who joined the newly formed Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board as a “charter” member in March 2013. Mason is US co-chair of the board’s Community Advisory Group and Engagement Committee. Because of her board activities, she was invited to present at one of 10 Water Quality Town Hall meetings held by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton in 2017.
The Commission further recognized Dr. Kate Bassil as a member of the Health Professionals Advisory Board. Bassil, of Toronto Public Health and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, has served on the board since 2011. One of her most notable efforts included co-authoring a paper, “Integrating Environmental and Human Health Databases in the Great Lakes Basin: Themes, Challenges and Future Directions,” which was based on a board report and published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in 2015.
Jeff Kart is executive editor of the IJC’s monthly Great Lakes Connection and quarterly Water Matters newsletters.