IJC seeks input on two reports on effective watershed management plans to reduce nutrient pollution in Lake Erie


The International Joint Commission (IJC) invites public comment on two reports from its Great Lakes Water Quality Board: Evaluating Watershed Management Plans, Nutrient Management Approaches in the Lake Erie Basin and Key Locations Outside of the Lake Erie Basin (August 2016) and Watershed Management of Nutrients in Lake Erie (December 2017). Both reports outline how watershed management plans should be used to manage nutrient pollution in Lake Erie and provide recommendations for key success factors needed to achieve meaningful nutrient load reductions.  Members of the public are invited to provide comments either online or by email at Commission@ottawa.ijc.org or Commission@washington.ijc.org until March 7, 2018. 

In its 2016 report, the Water Quality Board found that implementation of effective watershed management plans is an important tool in a holistic approach to reducing nutrient loading to Lake Erie. It recommends three key actions to federal, state and provincial governments: develop plans; include key elements in those plans to ensure success; and provide adequate funding to support planning and implementation of watershed management plans for nutrients. 

Its 2017 report builds on these previous findings, by providing five additional recommendations for specific actions to the federal governments, in partnership with Great Lakes state and provincial governments, First Nations, Tribes and Métis:

  • Use existing monitoring data and identify a preferred model(s) for determining nutrient loading to the lake that integrates both tributary nutrient loading as well as inlake nutrient processes
  • Develop a lakewide plan that: 1) includes basin-by-basin plans for the western, central and eastern basins; 2) coordinates all watershed plans to avoid duplication; 3) translates binational targets upstream to watersheds and subwatersheds; and 4) identifies subwatersheds that are of highest priority for nutrient/phosphorus reduction
  • Federal, state and provincial governments should provide half of long-term funding support, with the other half to be provided from the local level by municipalities, local agencies, water users and landowners
  • Identify key common parameters to be measured in all watershed to assess progress towards the larger Lake Erie targets for nutrient reduction
  • Create a communications plan that outlines how continuous information on nutrient management/reduction efforts should be distributed to implementation agencies, stakeholders, media and the public.

The Commission is interested in public comments on these reports. In particular, the Commission is interested in responses to the following questions:

  1. Are the recommendations sound?
  2. Are any important considerations overlooked?
  3. Can you provide relevant examples of success in watershed management plans from your community or region that will contribute to the reports’ findings?
  4. Do you feel the recommendations in these reports may be of benefit to your and other watersheds dealing with nutrient issues? 

Members of the public are invited to provide comments online or by email at Commission@ottawa.ijc.org or Commission@washington.ijc.org until March 7, 2018.


For more information: 

Sally Cole-Misch




Sarah Lobrichon




Frank Bevacqua