Many people reached out to us after the Great Lakes Protection Act passed asking what it really means for the Great Lakes.
Will the law really make things better?
How will it work?
What should we do now?
The answer is pretty simple: More work (and a bit of fun).
Passing laws is hard, messy, political work. It took three years for the Great Lakes Protection Act to make its way through the legislature.
Ironically, now that it’s passed, the real work begins.
A law on its own is just words on paper. Nice words. Well-intentioned words. But just words. Implementation” is when we turn those words into actions.
For government, this means the Strategy reports must be developed every three years, with the first update coming in the next year. It means convening the Guardians council and meetings. It means allocating research time and dollars and setting priorities for keeping these lakes swimmable, drinkable, fishable.
For the community, it means more and better information-sharing. We need to ensure government is getting the information it needs about our concerns, innovations, and suggestions for the lakes. We need to ensure that we are actively participating in the consultation process so that government decisions reflect public needs. And (this is the fun part), we need to keep swimming, drinking, and fishing from these Great Lakes so that government remains motivated to protect them.
The Great Lakes Protection Act doesn’t create a lot of new standards for protection the Great Lakes. (We have a pretty good set of water quality goals already in Ontario, so that’s okay.)
It does create new processes for sharing information, reporting on progress, holding the government accountable, and setting priorities.
The Act will fail if...
- If government doesn’t take advantage of those new tools. This means it’s our job to keep enthusiasm from waning.
- If government doesn’t set the right priorities. So it’s our job to keep information flowing, to make sure government knows what’s happening on the ground.
- If government doesn’t consult the public at large. So it's our job to ensure the priorities that are set reflect the needs of all Great Lakes residents, regardless of political or economic clout.
It sounds like a political or fundraising cliche: “We’ve done well, but there’s so much more work to do!”
In this case, it’s true. There are years of work ahead of us – relentless, focused, informed work to protect the lakes that sustain our communities. And we keep at it, year after year, until everyone can swim, drink, and fish. And for longer, until it becomes unthinkable that the lakes could ever be imperiled again.
- Subscribe to Waterkeeper’s mailing list for important updates and alerts
- Visit the EBR Registry website for consultation opportunities
- Read the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change website for background