International Joint Commission (IJC)
More than a century of cooperation protecting shared waters

Great Lakes

The Great Lakes are the world’s largest freshwater ecosystem. Care and management of the Lakes is a shared responsibility of Canada and the U.S. The IJC assists the governments in this task. 

Water Quality
The IJC advises the U.S. and Canadian governments on safeguarding the Great Lakes for drinking, swimming, fishing and the health of the ecosystem.  Science, transparency and public engagement are principles underlying the Commission’s Great Lakes water quality work.  

Water Levels
Levels of the Great Lakes affect many human uses. Changes in levels are the result of both natural causes and management.  Using the latest science, the IJC issues orders of approval and establishes study boards under the Boundary Waters Treaty seeking to assure that levels of the Great Lakes balance the interests of all users and the ecosystem.