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E-M:/ ijc releases 9th biennial report on gl water quality

Enviro-Mich message from Dave Dempsey <davemec@voyager.net>


Jennifer Day 
Washington, D.C.: 
Frank Bevacqua 


The federal governments of the United States and Canada must renew their
dedication and fulfill their commitments under their Great Lakes Water
Quality Agreement to restore and protect Great Lakes water quality,
concludes the International Joint Commission in its Ninth Biennial Report
on Great Lakes Water Quality. 

The goal of the Ninth Biennial Report is to rejuvenate action on the part
of governments and bring solutions and resolution to on-going problems and
issues affecting the Great Lakes. The Commission has made 19
recommendations that present a number of specific targets and deadlines to
help achieve the agreement's purpose and measure progress toward this end.
Recommendations are made in the areas of: 

     initiating and completing remediation of contaminated sediment; 
     reducing and eliminating sources of air pollution containing specific
toxic and persistent toxic substances;
     reducing pollution to the Great Lakes from agricultural land; 
     funding research about endocrine disruption in humans and wildlife; 
     adopting a strategy relating to dioxins and furans; 
     identifying and eliminating specific uses of mercury; 
     developing a detailed program for the systematic destruction of PCBs;
     monitoring of nuclear facilities and toxic chemicals used at nuclear
facilities, as well as the effects of
     certain radioactive elements. 

The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement has been renegotiated twice in the
past 26 years to include current issues such persistent toxic substances.
It is scheduled to be reviewed again this year. The Commission firmly
believes, "... the present Agreement is sound, effective and flexible.
Review and renegotiation are not
necessary." Rather, the governments need to renew and fulfill their
commitments and focus on implementation, enforcement and other actions to
achieve the Agreement's purpose." 

The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement is a formal commitment by Canada
and the U.S. to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Progress in the
Agreement's implementation includes many success stories and positive
signs that the lakes are returning to better health. Because of its
success, the Agreement serves as a model of international environmental
cooperation around the world. This progress reflects the courage and
willingness of our governments in the past to deal with environmental
problems of the Great Lakes. Even so, the United States and Canada cannot
afford to retreat from their mutual commitments to protect their shared

Tremendous gains have been made toward achieving the purpose of the
Agreement, yet despite decades of effort, society has not gone far enough.
The issue of persistent toxic substances has not been resolved and the
Commission again stresses the importance of virtually eliminating the input
of these contaminants to the Great Lakes system. There is overwhelming
evidence that certain persistent toxic substances impair human intellectual
capacity, change behavior, damage the immune system and compromise
reproductive capacity. The report states, "Injury has occurred in the past,
is occurring today and, unless society acts now to further reduce the
concentration of persistent toxic substances in the environment, the injury
will continue in the future." 

The Commission continues to focus on persistent toxic substances in the
Great Lakes, but also recognizes the impact of many other stressors
including land use patterns, increasing shoreline development, habitat
modification, biological contamination and nutrient input. All must be
considered and resources should not be
transferred from one issue to another. 

The report recognizes that the federal governments should be the leaders in
protecting the Great Lakes, but all stakeholders, provincial and state
governments in the Great Lakes basin have roles and responsibilities to
insure that restoration and protection become a reality. 

The International Joint Commission is a binational Canada-United States
organization established by the 1909
Boundary Waters Treaty to assist the governments in preventing disputes
related to boundary waters along the
U.S./Canadian border. The Commission's report is issued biennially as
required by the Great Lakes Water
Quality Agreement. 

For additional copies, contact an IJC office as listed below, or
http://www.ijc.org/comm/9br/covere.html on the

 U.S. Section 
 1250 23rd Street N.W., Suite 100 
 Washington, D.C. 20440 
 202-736-9000 telephone 
 202-736-9015 fax 
Great Lakes Regional Office 
100 Ouellette Avenue, Eighth floor
Windsor, ON N9A 6T3 
519-257-6734 telephone 
519-257-6740 fax 
P.O. Box 32869 
Detroit, MI 48232 
313-226-2170 telephone 

Dave Dempsey
Policy Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Suite 2A
Lansing, MI 48912

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