Waterkeeper and Swim Drink Fish make recommendations to strengthen Canada-Ontario agreement on the Great Lakes
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper recently submitted written comments on the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health 2020.
The Great Lakes are important to people in Ontario, Canada, and the US, so both the federal and provincial governments have obligations to protect them. The Canada Ontario Agreement is the document that explains how those two governments work together to fulfil obligations in this country.
We recognize the commitments Ontario and Canada are both making to the Great Lakes by updating this agreement. The document, as well as the numerous programs and initiatives mentioned in it, reflect hard work by many people to restore and protect the lakes. This is not an easy undertaking, and the Lakes will benefit from all the attention they can get.
We are supportive of government’s continued coordination efforts and the commitment being made to Great Lakes restoration. In particular, we recognize and appreciate the attention to sewage pollution issues, improved monitoring and public alerts for sewage spills, and the attention being paid to microplastics and road salt pollution.
Waterkeeper works every day to restore and protect the Great Lakes, so we appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the construction of this agreement.
Based on our knowledge and expertise, we presented these main points:
#1 We are here to help. Swim Drink Fish, the parent organization of Waterkeeper, is encouraging the Government of Canda to use our data about sewage spills in the Great Lakes. We offer our reports, platforms and look forward to assisting with any future efforts to reduce sewage pollution.
#2 Funding must be guaranteed both by Canada and Ontario in order for the commitments in the agreement to be met.
#3 Appreciate what we have. Swim Drink Fish is committed to growing the public appreciation of the Great Lakes. We offer our platforms and extensive knowledge to promote tourism and public awareness of the region.
#4 The laws are there, we just need to enforce them. Specifically, we encourage Ontario to recognize the importance of enforcement in water pollution cases.
#5 Support Hamilton Harbour. Restoration work at Hamilton Harbour is already making a significant change in the area. We recommend putting additional efforts to address sewage pollution issues to that improvements are long term.
#6 Sewage debris in the Toronto Harbour. To keep the thousands of waterfront users coming to the water, more efforts must be made to keep the water clean from debris.
#7 Open and re-open beaches in Toronto to allow more people to interact with the lake in more places.
#8 Port Hope’s hazardous waste should be dealt with properly. We encourage the Province of Ontario to use their knowledge and authority to ensure Port Hope low-level radioactive waste cleanups meet provincial, as well as federal, standards.
#9 Wetlands have a lot to offer. We know the importance of wetlands to a healthy ecosystem. We also know that the Lake Ontario has lost the vast majority of its coastal wetlands. At the moment, the 2020 agreement is lacking commitments to create and protect these vital areas.
#10 Set objectives. We must set benchmarks in order to know if what we are doing has a positive impact on the Great Lakes.