International Joint Commission seeks public comment on review of recommendations for protecting the waters of the Great Lakes


International Joint Commission seeks public comment on review of recommendations for protecting the waters of the Great Lakes

Experts call findings 'good news story'

19 May 2015 – Ottawa, ON/Washington, D.C.

The International Joint Commission (IJC) today announced the start of a public comment period on a consultants’ review of recommendations made in the 2000 IJC report, Protection of the Waters of the Great Lakes.

The consultants’ draft report analyzes the progress Great Lakes states and provinces have made over the last 10 years in defending the lakes from diversions, bulk exports and large-scale withdrawals within the basin.

Members of the public are invited to comment on the draft report from May 19 to June 30, 2015, either online or during a public webinar on June 4, 2015. (A video of the webinar is available here)

The Canadian and U.S. governments asked the IJC to examine the issue of protecting the waters of the Great Lakes from diversions and bulk exports, following a controversial proposal by a private company to export Lake Superior water in tankers to Asia in 1998. IJC issued its 2000 Protection of the Waters of the Great Lakes report in response, making 12 major recommendations – largely directed at states and provinces – to conserve water and protect the lakes.

The federal governments accepted the IJC’s proposal to review the status of its recommendations after 3 years and every 10 years thereafter.  The Commission released its first review in 2004; the current review marks the first of the 10-year reviews of recommendations.

The 10-year review of recommendations was prepared by two leading experts, Ralph Pentland, President of Ralbet Enterprises, and Dr. Alex Mayer, Professor of Environmental and Geological Engineering at Michigan Technological University.

The review authors call their findings "for the most part a good news story." Their key findings include:

  • the policy gaps identified in 2000 have largely been filled;
  • the Great Lake states and provinces have made significant progress in implementing water conservation measures, primarily through the adoption of the 8-state Great Lakes Compact and a parallel agreement including Ontario and Quebec;
  • consumptive water uses of Great Lakes water have declined in the last decade; and
  • ongoing management vigilance and additional scientific advances are required to maintain the positive momentum of the past 10 years.

The IJC will consider all comments received from the public and report its own findings and recommendations to Governments in September 2015.

Comment on the 10-year review

Ten-Year Review of the International Joint Commission’s Report on "Protection of the Waters of the Great Lakes"

Video of June 4, 2015, public webinar


For more information:

Dominique Guerin-Garnett

Ottawa, ON           


Frank Bevacqua

Washington, D.C.                    


Dave Dempsey

Washington, D.C.


 5/29/2015: This news release was revised to reflect 12 original recommendations.