More Data and Information Needed in Lake Superior Lakewide Management Plan



Windsor/Detroit Bruce Kirschner (519)257-6710 or (313)226-2170 Ottawa Geoff Thornburn (613)995-2984 Washington Frank Bevacqua (202)736-9024


More Data and Information Needed in
Lake Superior Lakewide Management Plan

Completion of the problem definition for Critical Pollutant loadings to Lake Superior was a "significant milestone" in the efforts to restore the lake's water quality, according to the International Joint Commission. The problem of Critical Pollutant loadings was defined in the Stage 1 Lakewide Management Plan (LaMP) for Lake Superior submitted to the Commission for its review by the Governments of Canada and the United States in accordance with the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

A LaMP is a plan to reduce loadings of Critical Pollutants in open lake waters so that the water is safe for drinking, swimming and fishing, and supports healthy fish and wildlife populations along with other "beneficial uses" listed in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Critical Pollutants are substances that persist, singly or in combination with other substances, at levels that impair beneficial uses. The 22 Critical Pollutants designated in the Stage 1 LaMP for Lake Superior include pesticides (chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, toxaphene) and other organic substances (PCBs, dioxin, hexachlorobenzene) as well as metals (copper, iron, lead, mercury).

The designation of Critical Pollutants appears to be reasonable, according to the Commission. The Commission complimented the methodology and explicit criteria used to designate Critical Pollutants and concluded that a suitable mechanism is in place to accommodate any potential revisions to the list.

The Commission also complimented the Lake Superior Forum as an excellent example of meaningful public participation in the LaMP process. "Forum members should be recognized for their devotion as well as pertinent input," according to the Commission. The forum is a public advisory group for the Lake Superior Binational Program.

The Commission also noted that achievement of the Lake Superior LaMP's goals would be furthered by providing additional data and information in the following areas:


- Link between exposure to specific Critical Pollutants and threats to human health
- Loadings of Critical Pollutants
- Atmospheric loadings of Critical Pollutants to the Lake Superior basin and sources from outside the basin.

To date, the threat to human health or aquatic life is not well defined and consequently, there is little reason to expect significant public support for lifestyle changes or modifications to industrial processes that may be needed to reduce loadings of Critical Pollutants, according to the Commission. Previous studies have linked pollutants found in the Great Lakes to a range of health effects including impaired functioning of the immune system, reproductive system and central nervous system.

Due to the significance of the atmospheric loadings of certain Critical Pollutants, additional information is required to develop the load reduction schedule needed for the Stage 2 LaMP, according to the Commission. Two topics that require particular attention are the actual contribution of atmospheric loadings of Critical Pollutants and sources outside the Lake Superior basin. Although data are limited, it appears that atmospheric deposition is the dominant pathway for entry of most Critical Pollutants to Lake Superior. The true scope of the problem also needs to be conveyed in a way that is easy to understand to ensure public support for necessary future actions.

The Agreement requires that LaMPs be submitted to the Commission for its review and comment at four stages: problem definition, load reduction schedule, selection of remedial measures and when Critical Pollutants are no longer impairing beneficial water uses.

The International Joint Commission was established under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to help the two Governments to prevent and resolve disputes over use of waters along the U.S. and Canada boundary. Under the 1978 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the Commission assesses progress by the two countries to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem. For more information, visit the Commission's worldwide web site at:

For further information contact Bruce Kirschner at the International Joint Commission Regional Office, 100 Ouellette Avenue, Windsor, Ontario (519-257-6710) or P.O. Box 32869, Detroit, Michigan (313-226-2170) or on the Internet: