IJC Seeks Better Reporting to Assess Progress Under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement


The International Joint Commission (IJC) recommends that the governments of the United States and Canada immediately begin using indicators for three desired outcomes to report on progress under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement -- fish that are safe for eating and water that is safe for swimming and drinking.

The desired outcomes and their indicators were developed by the IJC's Indicators Implementation Task Force (IITF), whose final report was released by the IJC today The IJC also urges the governments to continue work on implementing the remaining six desired outcomes and to address and correct data accessibility problems enabling subsequent reports to address the full slate of desired outcomes.

The Commission considers the indicators approach to be central to its ability to carry out its responsibilities under Article VII of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. It is therefore essential that, in accordance with Article IX, the necessary data and information pertinent to these indicators and measurements be made available to the Commission, on request, by the governments.

In 1996, the IJC adopted a framework for assessing progress under the Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement based on the work of its Indicators for Evaluation Task Force. The framework, consisting of nine desired outcomes with specific indicators and measurements for each of these outcomes, was presented in the Commission's report, Indicators to Evaluate Progress under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and forwarded to governments in January 1997.

In 1997 the Commission established the IITF to examine and consider how these nine desired outcomes and their related ecosystem indicators could be implemented. Since good quality data is essential for this activity, an important part of the IITF's work was to assess the adequacy of existing data bases and information related to these indicators. The Task Force found that while more effort is needed to improve data collection and the quality of data, sufficient data exists to support the use of indicators, at least those associated with the three desired outcomes noted above.

For more information, including the IJC's The Indicators Implementation Task Force Final Report, visit www.ijc.org on the Internet. Hard copies of the final report are available upon request from any IJC office.

The International Joint Commission is a binational Canada-U.S. organization established by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909. It assists the governments in managing waters along the border for the benefit of both countries in a variety of ways including evaluating government's performances under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement .


Windsor/Detroit Jennifer Day 519.257.6733 or 313.226.2170 ext. 6733

Washington, D.C. Frank Bevacqua 202.736.9024

Ottawa, ON Fabien Lengellé 613.995.0088