The 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, first signed in 1972 and renewed in 1978, expresses the commitment of each country to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem and includes a number of objectives and guidelines to achieve these goals. It reaffirms the rights and obligation of Canada and the United States under the Boundary Waters Treaty and has become a major focus of Commission activity.
In 1987, a Protocol was signed amending the 1978 Agreement. The amendments aim to strengthen the programs, practices and technology described in the 1978 Agreement and to increase accountability for their implementation. Timetables are set for implementation of specific programs.
Under the 1987 Agreement the Parties meet biennially to discuss progress and report periodically to the Commission. New annexes address atmospheric deposition of toxic pollutants, contaminated sediments, groundwater, and nonpoint sources of pollution. Annexes are also added to incorporate the development and implementation of remedial action plans for Areas of Concern and lakewide management plans to control critical pollutants.
Under the 1987 Agreement the Commission monitors and assesses progress under the Agreement and advises Governments on matters related to the quality of the boundary waters of the Great Lakes system. The Agreement also calls upon the Commission to assist the Governments with joint programs under the Agreement, and provides for two binational boards -- the Great Lakes Water Quality Board and the Great Lakes Science Advisory Board -- to advise the Commission.