Thursday, September 20, 2012

Critique Of The New Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement

Sep 16: James Bruce, former director of the Canadian Centre for Inland Waters and an architect of the 1972 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) and Chris Wood, the author of Dry Spring: The coming water crisis of North America, have published a critique of the recently signed GLWQA [See WIMS 9/7/12] in the Sunday edition of the Toronto Star. The critique is entitled, Canada-U.S. Great Lakes water quality: One step forward, two steps back. They say in part:
"GLWQA-4 sets eloquent objectives and worthy principles. But it neglects two critical factors in the success of its predecessors: hard number goals, and actions to reach them.

"There are some improvements in the new agreement. It devotes more attention to the multiple threads of aquatic ecology, with approaches to issues such as aquatic invasive species and habitat protection. For the first time, the new agreement confronts the challenge that climate change poses to management of the Great Lakes. That subject was not on the horizon in 1972, nor when the GLWQA was renewed with additions in both 1978 and 1987.

"But these advances are less than they appear. Better recognition of the complex of factors that contribute to a healthy habitat — for humans as much as wildlife — is certainly welcome, but the agreement puts off for further negotiation the setting of any clear targets or indicators for their protection.

"Likewise, an annex on climate change is a belated recognition of an unfolding reality. But the program of research it sets out, while worthy on its own, is to a degree superfluous. The broad strokes of the disrupting effects of climate change on the hydrology of the Great Lakes Basin where nearly two in three Canadians live are already fairly evident."
    Access the complete op-ed (click here). Access the 74-page GLWQA of 2012 (click here). Access EPA's GLWQA website for more information (click here). Access the IJC GLWQA review website (click here). Access the website for additional information from the governments (click here). 
32 Years of Environmental Reporting for serious Environmental Professionals