Tuesday, May 15, 2012

IJC Announces Priorities To Address Great Lakes Issues

May 14: The International Joint Commission (IJC) announced its priority work to develop recommendations to assist governments in implementing the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA). During 2012-2015, the Commission will focus on:
  • Lake Erie Ecosystem Priority to Reduce Phosphorus and Algal Blooms.  The ultimate goal of this priority is to advise governments on the essential elements of a plan to reduce the loading of phosphorus to Lake Erie and to prevent harmful algal blooms.  The work group will focus on developing a better scientific understanding of causes and controls and make recommendations for needed monitoring systems and best management practices to address agricultural, urban, and industrial sources of nutrient pollution.  Expected outcomes also include recommendations to improve coastal resiliency and governance.
  • Assessment of Progress toward Restoring the Great Lakes.  This priority will examine both human health and environmental indicators to assess progress toward Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement objectives.  Experts will also identify gaps in current monitoring programs and recommend needed improvements in monitoring capabilities.  In addition, a framework for assessing the effectiveness of programs and other measures implemented by governments to protect and restore the Great Lakes under the Agreement will be developed.
  • Assessing the Capacity to Deliver Great Lakes Science and Information.  With a focus on Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement objectives, the work group will assess binational capacity and capability to coordinate and deliver Great Lakes science.  In particular, access to data will be a key focus of their work, including identifying a common portal to lists of both human health and environmental data and demonstrating the benefits of connecting such datasets.  Efforts under this priority will also include increasing the capacity of the IJC to process and distribute GIS/remote sensing information in support of Agreement reporting requirements.
    Lana Pollack, U.S. co-chair of the Commission said, "These priorities reflect extensive discussions with our advisory boards and with the public. In particular, both the public and scientific experts urged us to focus on the crisis facing Lake Erie and to bring stakeholders in both countries together to recommend a clear plan and best practices to reduce nutrient pollution and restore the lake." Joe Comuzzi, Canadian co-chair of the Commission said,  "Over the next three years, our work groups will conduct new research, review scientific literature, and engage the public. We take our responsibilities under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement very seriously and intend to deliver value-added findings and recommendations to the governments."

    Under terms of the Canada-US Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the Commission has an ongoing reference to assess progress towards the goals of the Agreement and to provide expert scientific advice on issues related to restoring and protect water quality in the Great Lakes.  First signed in 1972, an updated version of the Agreement is expected to be signed by the parties later this year.

    Access a release from IJC with further details (click here).

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