Lana Pollack, U.S Co-Chair of the Commission said, "Human health must be highlighted as a priority concern of both countries in a revised Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Adding explicit provisions to protect human health based on sound science is one of the most important things we can do." The Commission prepared the report as part of its responsibilities to assess progress toward achieving the objectives of the current Agreement. The report addresses priorities that were the focus of scientific research and public engagement over the past two years. First signed in 1972, the Agreement was last revised in 1987, and the two countries announced in June 2009 that they would be engaging in negotiations to update this important bi-national blueprint for Great Lakes restoration. Some of the recommendations focus on:
- Research and Monitoring - A key concern raised in the report is the resurgence of eutrophication -- aquatic plant growth caused by excessive nutrients such as phosphorus. The report recommends new research and monitoring efforts similar to the Commission's Pollution from Land-use Activities Reference Group (PLUARG) in the 1970s. PLUARG II would help managers better understand eutrophication and select the wisest management actions.
- Governance - The report notes that while collaboration has improved in recent years, there is a critical need to modify existing governance to strengthen coordination across jurisdictional lines to address ecological challenges in the nearshore. The Commission recommends adopting Lakewide Management Plans (LaMPs) as the geographic unit to coordinate, integrate and implement programs to address the impacts of agricultural and urban areas on water quality.
- Regulatory Action and Public Infrastructure - The report recommends that governments institute "no regrets" actions (measures that would be justified under all plausible future scenarios) immediately to reduce nonpoint sources of pollution from agricultural and urban sources. In addition, the Commission recommends improved enforcement efforts to prevent contamination of groundwater, establishment of standards and regular inspections for septic systems and more effective regulations of confined animal feeding operations to ensure proper treatment of manure and application of methods to reduce run-off.