Commission Applauds Signing of New Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement Protocol


[Washington DC] – The International Joint Commission today applauded the governments of Canada and the United States for updating the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (Agreement).  A new Agreement protocol was signed today by Peter Kent, Canada’s Environment Minister and Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Updated for the first time since 1987, the accord is a blueprint for binational cooperation to restore and protect the lakes, and it gives the Commission the role of assisting governments in achieving Agreement objectives and assessing progress toward restoration.

“The Commission commends the governments for signing a protocol that establishes objectives to measure progress in restoring and protecting water quality of the Great Lakes, stresses action based on science and involves First Nations and the public in transparent evaluation processes,” said Canadian co-chair Joe Comuzzi.

“The new protocol comes at a critical time and provides tools needed to address old threats such as pollution and to respond to new ones such as climate change and invasive species,” said U.S. co-chair Lana Pollack.  “Most important, the protocol focuses on accountability so that promises made become promises kept.”

Under the renewed Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the governments conclude that the 'best means to preserve Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem and improve water quality' is to adopt common objectives, cooperative programs and assign special responsibilities to the Commission:

  • Assess progress to restore and protect the Great Lakes;
  • Engage people, communities, private and public institutions, First Nations and Native Americans, and all levels of government in collective efforts for Great Lakes water quality; and,
  • Advise Governments on effective Great Lakes programs and policies, research and monitoring priorities, and approaches and opportunities to achieve objectives for Great Lakes water quality.

To fulfill these roles, the Agreement directs the Commission to analyze and share information on transboundary pollution, assist in developing water quality objectives, and convene the Great Lakes Public Forum.

With a century of experience cooperating to protect our shared waters, the Commission played an important role in efforts culminating in today's signing. Just three years ago, at the ceremony celebrating 100 years of the Boundary Waters Treaty, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon announced the intent of the US and Canada to renegotiate and updated agreement that 'reflects our best knowledge and our unshakable commitment to preserving this vital natural resource.'

In 2003, the Commission called on the governments to renew and modernize the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement to meet both emerging and enduring challenges. At the request of governments, the Commission conducted extensive outreach efforts that gathered input from over 3000 people. This input was incorporated into the advice to the Governments to renew and strengthen the Commission published in 2006.

The Commission congratulates the parties for renewing the commitment and strengthening the foundation for binational agreement to protect and restore North America's Great Lakes. The Commission stands ready to work with all those passionate to restore and protect our Great Lakes.

Contacts: Frank Bevacqua Washington (202) 736-9024 Bernard Beckhoff Ottawa (613) 947-1420