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Glossary of technical terms
    that appear in the LaMPs

Acronyms | Words and definitions

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Gammarus fasciatus

A non-indigenous invasive amphipod.

Gas Exchange

The amount of gaseous contaminant absorbed by, or volatilized from, the lake. It is more complex to assess than atmospheric deposition (wet or dry). Gas exchange is calculated after measuring many environmental parameters, including substance concentrations in air and water.

General Permit

An Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) authorization that is issued on a nationwide or regional basis for categories of human activities within navigable waters of the U.S. General permits are issued when: (1) these activities are substantially similar in nature and cause only minimal individual and cumulative environmental impacts; or (2) the general permit would result in avoiding unnecessary duplication of the regulatory control exercised by another federal, state, or local agency provided it has been determined that the environmental consequences of the action are individually and cumulatively minimal. There are three types of general permits: regional permits, nationwide permits, and programmative permits.

Great Lakes

Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron (including Lake St. Clair), Lake Michigan, and Lake Superior, and the connecting channels (St. Mary’s River, St. Clair River, Detroit River, Niagara River, and St. Lawrence River to the Canadian border).

Great Lakes 2000

Led and implemented by Environment Canada, GL2000 is based on a vision of sustainable development in the Great Lakes Basin, with specific objectives of restoring degraded ecosystems, preventing and controlling pollutant impacts, and conserving human and ecosystem health. Other participating federal agencies include the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Health Canada, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, Transport Canada, Canadian Heritage, and Public Works and Government Service Canada.

Great Lakes Charter

An international organization formed in 1985 by the premiers of Ontario and Quebec and the governors of the 8 Great Lakes States in response to the increased interest in diverting Great Lakes water to arid regions of the U.S. The Charter does not encourage these diversion proposals, but has no enforcement powers to prevent their implementation.

Great Lakes Commission (GLC)

A Great Lakes states’ organization formed in 1955 by the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin to promote a cleaner environment, stronger economy, and better quality of life for residents of the Great Lakes states. Although Canada is not an official member of the Commission, it is on the task force. Through policy development, intergovernmental coordination, and advocacy, the Commission offers a variety of services to member states, and provides a unified and influential regional voice on policy, program, and legislative matters affecting the Great Lakes. It maintains an active observer program with representation from federal agencies, provincial governments, regional organizations, and tribal authorities. The Commission also maintains the Great Lakes Information Network and initiated the Ecosystem Charter for the Great Lakes Basin.

Great Lakes Critical Pollutants (GLCP)

Substances (a total of 138) currently identified as most critical to improving water quality under four major Great Lakes initiatives: the Great Lakes Water Quality Initiative, the Lake Michigan Lakewide Management Plan, the Lake Ontario/Niagara River Four Party Agreement, and the Lake Superior Binational Program Agreement. Each of the four initiatives may define critical pollutants differently.

Great Lakes Critical Programs Act

Amendments to Section 118 of the federal Clean Water Act in 1990 to improve the effectiveness of EPA's existing programs in the Great Lakes. The Critical Programs Act established the Great Lakes Water Quality Initiative and identified key treaty agreements between the United States and Canada in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The Act required the EPA to establish statutory deadlines for treaty activities and increased federal resources for the program. It also requires the EPA to publish proposed water quality guidelines for the Great Lakes System. The guidelines must specify minimum requirements for waters in the Great Lakes system in three areas: water quality standards; anti-degradation policies; and implementation procedures. Related programs: Clean Water Act, Great Lakes Initiative.

Great Lakes Enforcement Strategy

A federal program that is a joint effort of the eight Great Lakes States and the EPA. The strategy is a part of the process for implementing the Great Lakes Five-Year Strategy for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program by reducing dischargers’ non-compliance in the Great Lakes basin and reducing toxics loading. A key element of the strategy is the use of screening criteria that are more stringent than the national definition of significant non-compliance.

Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL)

A federal research facility run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The GLERL’s mission is to conduct integrated, interdisciplinary environmental research in support of resource management and environmental services in coastal and estuarine water, with special emphasis on the Great Lakes. GLERL’s research provides federal, state, and international decision and policy makers with scientific understanding of:
Sources, pathways, and fates of toxicants;
Natural hazards;
Eecosystems and their interactions;
Hhydrology and Great Lakes water levels; and
Regional effects related to global climate change.

Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC)

An international organization established in 1955 by Canada and the United States. Located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the GLFC works to improve the Great Lakes fishery, coordinates efforts of the two nations, and implements management of the sea lamprey. The Commission also advises the two governments on other non-indigenous species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is the U.S. agency that acts for the Commission.

Great Lakes Five-Year Strategy (1992)

A federal (EPA) program that commits the states, tribes, and U.S. federal agencies responsible for environmental protection and natural resource management in the Great Lakes basin to achieving specific environmental goals. This overarching EPA strategy provides a framework for EPA’s Great Lakes Programs and contains three major areas of focus: reduction of toxic pollutants; restoration of habitat; and protection of the health of all species. Specifically, regarding toxics reduction (as set forth in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement with Canada), the Strategy calls for "...reducing the level of toxic substances in the Great Lakes System with an emphasis on persistent toxic substances, so that all organisms are adequately protected and toxic substances are virtually eliminated from the Great Lakes ecosystem."

Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC)

An organization of Native American tribes from Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota that assists member tribes in the management of natural resources, in the protection of ecosystems, and in the development of institutions of tribal self-government.

Great Lakes Information Network (GLIN)

A nationwide Internet information exchange service for the Great Lakes basin. GLIN ties together a host of databases and file servers from a wide range of government and academic groups in an easy-to-access format. Maintained by the Great Lakes Commission.

Great Lakes Initiative (GLI)

GLI is the commonly used name for the Water Quality Guidance for the Great Lakes System. This federal guidance, drafted in 1993 and finalized on March 23, 1995, has regulatory implications, establishing minimum water quality standards, anti-degradation policies, and implementation procedures for waters in the Great Lakes system. Also see "Great Lakes Toxic Reduction Initiative," "Great Lakes Toxic Reduction Effort," and "Clean Water Act."

Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (GLLFAS)

As a component of the Bayfield Institute, this Canadian laboratory conducts research on the persistence and impacts of toxic chemicals on Great Lakes fish communities and food chains, and studies fish habitat for factors that affect production, species associations, and rehabilitation potential of fish stocks. It is also responsible for implementing the federal Fish Health Regulations for Ontario. Research helps support the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and binational concerns related to the long-range transport of atmospheric pollutants.

Great Lakes Maritime Industry Voluntary Ballast Water Management Plan for the Control of Ruffe in Lake Superior

Co-sponsored by the maritime shipping industry Great Lakes-wide, the plan is designed to reduce the risk that commercial vessels will transport the Eurasian ruffe in ballast water from Duluth-Superior Harbor to other ports. It requires that ballast water be exchanged in deep, cold water areas of Lake Superior. Commonly referred to as the Voluntary Ballast Water Management Plan.

Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO)

A federal EPA office created in 1978 to oversee the U.S. fulfillment of its obligations under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement with Canada. It was mandated by the Clean Water Act in 1987 to be responsible for coordinating the U.S. response to the water quality agreement. Located in Chicago, Illinois, GLNPO is made up of scientists, engineers, and other professionals who work with staff throughout the EPA, Great Lakes states, other federal agencies, Environment Canada, Ontario provincial government, International Joint Commission, colleges, universities, and the public. GLNPO developed the Great Lakes Five-Year Strategy to focus the activities of these groups on the following objectives: reduction of toxic substance levels, protection and restoration of habitats, and the protection of health.

Great Lakes Natural Resource Center

This is a private wildlife protection group located in Ann Arbor, Michigan and run by the National Wildlife Federation.

Great Lakes Protection Fund (GLPF)

A program initiated by the governors of the Great Lakes states as the United States first multi-state environmental endowment, the Fund is guided by principles stressing regional cooperation and communication with the purpose of promoting a healthy and sustainable Great Lakes ecosystem.

Great Lakes Provinces

The Canadian provinces of Ontario and Québec.

Great Lakes Research Office

This federal office, administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, identifies issues relating to Great Lakes resources on which research is needed, inventories existing research programs, establishes a mechanism for information exchange, and conducts research through the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratories, the National Sea Grant College Program, and other federal labs and the private sector.

Great Lakes Sea Grant Network

A U.S. network consisting of Sea Grant programs in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and New York.

Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council

A binational organization of the Great Lakes sportfishing community concerned with the present and future health of sportfishing, natural resources, and the Great Lakes ecosystem in general.

Great Lakes States

The states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Great Lakes States Air Permitting Agreement

A federal program signed by the environmental administrators of the Great Lakes states in 1988 to assure consistent implementation of the Toxic Substances Management in the Great Lakes basin through the permitting process agreement.

Great Lakes System

All the streams, rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water within the drainage basin of the Great Lakes.

Great Lakes Toxic Substances Control Agreement

An interstate agreement signed by the governors of the eight Great Lakes states in 1986, this agreement seeks uniform water quality standards for the Great Lakes. The purpose of the governors’ agreement was to establish a framework for coordinated regional action in controlling toxic substances entering the Great Lakes system.

Great Lakes Toxics Reduction Effort (GLTxRE)

This is a federal/state partnership that seeks to reduce the generation and release of toxics to the Great Lakes basin, with an emphasis on nonpoint sources. It supports the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and Great Lakes Five-Year Strategy. EPA and the Great Lakes states have established a process to deal with gaps or barriers to effectively preventing, controlling, or eliminating toxics loadings from nonpoint sources. An EPA team works with federal and state Great Lakes agencies to enhance efforts to reduce Great Lakes critical pollutants through three parallel projects: Virtual Elimination, Lake Michigan Mass Balance, and source pathway analysis. Also see "Great Lakes Initiative."

Great Lakes Toxics Reduction Initiative (LtxRI)

The original name for the Great Lakes Toxics Reduction Effort.

Great Lakes Water Quality Advisory Board

A binational advisory group to the International Joint Commission to assist in evaluating progress by Canada and the U.S. in accomplishing the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement goals and to make recommendations regarding the development and implementation of programs.

Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement

An international agreement betweent he U.S. and Canada signed in 1978 by the United States and Canada and amended in 1987. Its purpose is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes Basin ecosystem. The Agreement seeks to restore and maintain full beneficial uses of the Great Lakes system. Language committing the two nations to virtually eliminate the input of persistent toxic substances in order to protect human health and living aquatic resources was included when the agreement was updated in 1978. The philosophy adopted by the two governments is zero discharge of such substances. Also see "Lakewide Management Program" and "Remedial Action Plans."

Great Lakes Water Quality Initiative (GLWQI)

A federal program initiated in 1989 by the EPA and the Great Lakes states to further address the environmental concerns identified in the Great Lakes Toxic Substances Control Agreement. The GLWQI was intended to provide a forum for the Great Lakes states and the EPA to develop uniform water quality criteria and implementation procedures for the Great Lakes basin so as to create an even playing field for all industries in the region. This was proposed in 1993 as the Water Quality Guidance for the Great Lakes System.

Great Waters Program

This program was mandated by Title III of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments to assess the extent of atmospheric deposition of hazardous air pollutants to the Great Lakes and other designated waters. It includes setting up the Great Lakes Atmospheric Deposition Network and reporting the monitoring results from the network to investigate sources and deposition rates of air toxics, to find out what proportion of pollutants come from the atmosphere, and to evaluate any harmful effects to public health or the environment. Also see "1990 Clean Air Act Amendments."

Ground Water, groundwater

Water that occurs beneath the ground surface in soils and geologic formations.


A recommended limit for a substance or an agent intended to protect human health or the environment that is not legally enforceable.

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