Both governments sought extensive input from stakeholders before and throughout the long negotiation process, which started in 2009. Additionally, the revised Agreement expands opportunities for public participation in Great Lakes issues. Based on stakeholder input, the United States and Canada retained the overall purpose of the Agreement, which is "to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes" and the portion of the St. Lawrence River that includes the Canada-United States border. The Agreement also assigns responsibilities to the International Joint Commission (IJC) to share information, assess progress, and advise the two governments on science, policy and action. The amended GLWQA commits the United States and Canada to cooperate and coordinate efforts on issues such as:
- Preventing environmental threats before they turn into actual problems.
- Updating phosphorus targets for open waters and nearshore areas of each lake and taking actions to reduce phosphorus levels that contribute to harmful algae.
- Preventing the introduction and spread of invasive species.
- Developing plans to protect and restore nearshore areas, the primary source of drinking water for Great Lakes communities and where most commerce and recreation occurs.
- Reaffirming actions necessary to restore and delist Areas of Concern.
- Identifying new toxic substances, and implementing pollution prevention and control strategies.
- Preventing and controlling harmful discharges from ships and other vessels.
- Developing conservation strategies to protect native species and restore habitat.
- Identifying and helping coastal communities understand the impacts of climate change on water quality.
- Developing water quality and ecosystem health objectives.
- Reviewing Great Lakes science and establishing binational priorities for future work.
- Providing notification of activities that could impact the Great Lakes.
- Reporting progress to the public regularly.
32 Years of Environmental Reporting for serious Environmental Professionals