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Glossary of technical terms
    that appear in the LaMPs

Acronyms | Words and definitions

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The land area that drains into a lake or river. This area is defined and bounded by topographic high points around the water body. See also "watershed."

Bayfield Institute

A Canadian federal organization that conducts fisheries research, habitat management, hydrographic surveys and chart production, fisheries and recreational harbor management, and ship support. Together with the work of the Freshwater Institute in Winnipeg, it provides the federal Fisheries and Oceans Program for Central and Arctic Canada.

Beneficial use(s)

The role that the government decides a water body will fulfill. Examples of these uses include healthy fish and wildlife populations, fish consumption, aesthetic value, safe drinking water sources, and healthy phytoplankton and zooplankton communities. Restoring beneficial uses is the primary goal of the Remedial Action Plans for the Areas of Concern and of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Uses of the Great Lakes that are valued by society, such as water quality that is suitable for drinking, swimming, agricultural, and industrial uses; healthy fish and wildlife populations which support a broad range of subsistence, sport, and commercial uses; and aesthetics. See also "Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement," "Lakewide Management Plans," and "Remedial Action Plans."

Beneficial Use Impairment

A negative change in the health of a water body making it unusable for a beneficial use that has been assigned to it. Examples of the 14 use impairments designated in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, include: restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption, beach closings, degradation to aesthetics, loss of fish and wildlife habitat, and restrictions on drinking water consumption. Local use impairments occur in Areas of Concern or other area affecting the lake. Regional use impairments occur in an Area of Concern cluster or multi-jurisdictional watershed. Open water or lakewide impairment is a condition of pervasive impairment. See also "Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement," "Lakewide Management Plans," and "Remedial Action Plans."


Pertaining to plants and animals that live on the bottom of aquatic environments. A term describing both organisms and processes that occur in, on, or near a lakeís bottom sediments. See also "benthos."

Benthic Invertebrate

Refers to animals with no backbone or internal skeleton that live on the bottom of lakes, ponds, wetlands, rivers, and streams, and among aquatic plants. Benthic invertebrates provide an essential source of food for young and adult fish, wildlife, and other animals. Examples include caddisflies, midge larvae, scuds, waterfleas, crayfish, sponges, snails, worms, leeches, and nymphs of mayflies, dragonflies, and damselflies. The benthic invertebrate Diaporeia, is an ecosystem indicator.


Bottom-dwelling aquatic plants and animals. A term applied to organisms that live on or in a lake's bottom and/or bottom sediments. See also "benthic."

Best Available Control Technology (BACT)

Technology required to reduce emissions of air pollutant. Defined in the Great Lakes Permitting Agreement as: "emission limits, operating stipulations, and/or technology requirements based on the maximum degree of reduction which each Great Lakes state determines is achievable through application of processes or available methods, systems, and techniques for the control of listed pollutants, taking into account energy, environmental, and economic impacts, and other costs."

Best Available Technology (BAT)

The most effective, economically-achievable, and state-of-the-art technology currently in use for controlling pollution, as determined by the U.S. EPA.

Best Management Practice (BMP)

Methods used to control nonpoint source pollution by modifying existing management practices. BMPs include the best structural and non-structural controls and operation and maintenance procedures available. BMPs can be applied before, during, and after pollution-producing activities, to reduce or eliminate the introduction of pollutants into receiving waters. See also "Clean Water Act" and "Coastal Zone Management."

Binational Executive Committee

Group of senior managers from the Parties (U.S. EPA and Environment Canada) and other federal, state and provincial agencies which oversees the implementation of activities by the Parties to meet the goals of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

Binational Policy Task Force

An international organization that provides overall policy coordination for the Binational Program. Representation includes federal, provincial, and state government agencies.

Binational Program

The commonly-used name for the Lake Superior Binational Program to Restore and Protect the Lake Superior basin. An international program developed by the governments of Canada, the U.S., Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ontario to protect the high quality waters of the Lake Superior basin and to restore those areas that have been degraded. These goals are to be met through pollution prevention, enhanced regulation, and special designations. One specific goal of the program is to achieve zero discharge and zero emission of designated persistent and bioaccumulative toxic substances from point sources in the basin.


The accumulation by organisms of contaminants through ingestion or contact with skin or respiratory tissue. The net accumulation of a substance by an organism as a result of uptake from all environmental sources. As an organism ages, it can accumulate more of these substances, either from its food or directly from the environment. Bioaccumulation of a toxic substance has the potential to cause harm to organisms, particularly to those at the top of the food chain.

Bioaccumulation Factor (BAF)

The ratio of a substance's concentration in an organism's tissue to its concentration in the water where the organism lives. BAFs measure a chemicalís potential to accumulate in tissue through exposure to both food and water. See also bioconcentration factor. See also "Great Lakes Initiative."

Bioaccumulative Chemical of Concern (BCCs)

Any chemical that has the potential to cause adverse effects which upon entering the surface waters, by itself or as its toxic transformation products, accumulates in aquatic organisms by a human health bioaccumulation factor greater than 1000, after considering metabolism and other physiochemical properties that might enhance or inhibit bioaccumulation, in accordance with the methodology in Appendix B of Part 132 - Water Quality Guidance for the Great Lakes System.


A test used to evaluate the relative potency of a chemical or mixture of chemicals by comparing its effect on a living organism with the effect of a standard preparation on the same organism. Bioassays are frequently used in the pharmaceutical industry to evaluate the potency of vitamins and drugs.


The degree to which toxic substances or other pollutants are present in sediments or elsewhere in the ecosystem to affect or be taken up by organisms. Some pollutants might be "bound up" or unavailable because they are attached to clay particles or are buried by sediment. The amount of oxygen, pH, temperature, and other conditions in the water can affect availability.

Bioconcentration Factor (BCF)

The ratio of a substance's concentration in tissue versus its concentration in water in situations where the organism is exposed through water only. BCF measures a chemicalís potential to accumulate in an organismís tissue through direct uptake from water (excludes uptake from food). See also "bioaccumulation factor."


The variety of life and its processes, including the variety of living organisms, the genetic differences among them, the communities and ecosystems in which they occur, and the ecological and evolutionary processes that keep them functioning, yet ever changing and adapting. Also known as "biological diversity."


An organism and/or biological process whose change in numbers, structure, or function points to changes in the integrity or quality of the environment.

Biological Control

A method of controlling a disease-causing organism or pathogen or an exotic species. A biochemical product or bioengineered or naturally-occurring organism is used to cause death, inhibit growth, or inhibit the reproduction of an unwanted organism. One example is the import and use of the European beetle that feeds exclusively on purple loosestrife.

Biological Criteria

Biological measures of the health of an environment, such as the incidence of cancer in benthic fish species. Biological criteria can consist of narrative statements (in the simplest case) or of numeric statements.

Biological Integrity

The ability of an ecosystem to support and maintain a balanced, integrated, and adaptive community of organisms having a species composition, diversity, and functional organization comparable to the best natural habitats within a region.

Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD)

This is a measurement of the oxygen depletion in a water sample incubated under controlled conditions over a period of time. The aerobic decomposition of organic matter by bacteria in the sample requires oxygen. BOD is an important measurement of the impact that sewage discharge may have upon a water body because a certain amount of oxygen will be used in the breakdown of the wastewater.


A cumulative increase in the concentration of a persistent substance in successively higher trophic levels of the food chain. The process by which the concentration of a substance increases in different organisms at higher levels in the food chain. For example, if an organism is eaten by another organism, these substances move up the food chain and become more concentrated at each step. See also bioaccumulation and accumulation.


The process of assessing the well-being of living organisms. Often used in water quality studies to indicate compliance with water quality standards or effluent limits and to document water quality trends.


A term that includes all of the ecosystems on the planet along with their interactions. The sphere of all air, water, and land in which all life is found.


All living organisms that exist in an area.

Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR)

A Minnesota state agency that oversees a number of state programs designed to protect the state's soil and water. These programs include: the Soil and Water Conservation Disricts, Comprehensive Local Water Management Plans, Conservation Reserve Program, Shoreland Block Grants, Reinvest in Minnesota, among others. BWSR is responsible for the Wetland Conservation Act and associated rules.

Boundary Waters Treaty

The international treaty between the United States and Great Britain signed on January 11, 1909, regarding the waters joining the United States and Canada and relating to questions arising between the two nations. It gave rise to the International Joint Commission. See also "Binational Program" and "International Joint Commission."

Broader Program

The portion of the Lake Superior Binational Program containing the Lakewide Management Plan and ecosystem approach pursuant to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

Burrowing mayflies

Bottom-dwelling, burrowing Mayfly larvae (Hexagenia) are indicators of high water quality. In the 1950s, mayflies were wiped out in Lake Huron due to poor water quality. Low numbers of mayflies are an indicator of low amounts of dissolved oxygen. Also called Canadian soldiers, June bugs, fish flies.

Bythotrephes BC

A cladoceran, or water flea. Bythotrephes longimanus, the spiny water flea, is a non-indigenous invasive species with a barbed tail spine that competes with fish for zooplankton. The tail spine makes it unattractive to other predators and it has flourished. The impact that this new predator will have on the Great Lakes has yet to be determined, though it may compete for food with some fish.

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