This fall, the International Joint Commission ("IJC") is traveling to Canadian and American communities around the Great Lakes in search of opinions on the future of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between the two countries.
The IJC was formed in 1909 to help the United States and Canada address significant issues facing waters that cross our shared boundary. Next spring, the two governments will meet to discuss ways to improve the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. In preparation for those discussions, the IJC is asking the public to answer the following questions:
Is the Agreement helping to protect the quality of Great Lakes waters?
Does the Agreement do enough to protect the quality of Great Lakes waters?
Where does the Agreement fall short of its goals?
What new approaches, if any, should be instituted to ensure the Agreement protects the quality of Great Lakes waters?
If you would like to participate, the IJC is accepting submissions until midnight on November 30, 2005. More information about the process and the Agreement is available on the IJC's web site: www.ijc.org.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper sent our comments to the IJC today. You can view these comments online.
Here are Waterkeeper's major recommendations:
There must be a renewed commitment to meeting the objectives of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Success can only be claimed when these objectives are entirely met in every community.
In order to overcome the public?s cynicism, the International Joint Commission must be empowered to create a public process by which any resident in Canada and the United States can bring forward evidence of noncompliance with the objectives of the Agreement and/or information regarding new science and emerging issues that will help keep the Annexes relevant and effective. This public process can be modeled on the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation?s ?Citizen Submission on Enforcement Matters? process. Such a program will help to ensure the GLWQA is both transparent and effective.
The International Joint Commission should assume a leadership role in ensuring that the deadlines set out in the GLWQA are met. Lack of progress helps fuel public frustrations.
Waterkeeper's specific comments on the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement also identified a number of needs:
A renewed commitment to eliminating municipal and industrial pollution
A new commitment to protecting the Great Lakes from factory farming and aquaculture
More study of the problem of cargo-sweeping
updates that would explicitly encourage the safe disposal of contaminated dredgeate
A serious commitment to "zero discharge" of persistent toxic substances
A new commitment to protecting the Great Lakes from invasive species
Please browse our entire written submission, which is available on our web site: www.waterkeeper.ca.