Reflections on Great Lakes Water Quality: IJC Public Engagement Activities in 2022

IJC staff
IJC
September 22, 2022
ijc input session 2019

Whether you just visited your first Great Lake this summer or you’ve lived in the basin your entire life, you possess unique views and knowledge about the health and water quality of the Great Lakes.   

The IJC is now hosting in-person and online opportunities to hear your reflections on the progress being made toward more swimmable, fishable and drinkable Great Lakes. IJC seeks your input on what should be done to improve water quality in your community or anywhere in the Great Lakes. 

The Canadian and US governments are responsible for decision-making and implementation of programs and activities under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and their 2022 Progress Report of the Parties (PROP) summarizes their activities from 2020-2022 under the Agreement. (Read a few highlights from the 2022 PROP in our newsletter article)

According to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, public involvement and participation are “essential to achieve the objectives of” the Agreement. The IJC is holding a variety face-to-face and virtual engagement activities to get your input on the activities reported in the PROP, and to also hear your views on what else should be done to strengthen efforts that restore, protect and enhance Great Lakes water quality. Read on for details about the IJC’s public meetings in Niagara Falls, Ontario; a webinar series; survey and other ways you can share your reflections.

Niagara Falls, Ontario: Great Lakes Public Forum Sessions and Evening Public Meeting

niagara falls
Niagara Falls. Credit: Alexandre Brondino via Unsplash

During the last week of September, the IJC will be in Niagara Falls, Ontario, for two events: the governments’ 2022 Great Lakes Public Forum and an IJC evening public meeting.

Recognizing the importance of public input and advice, the governments of Canada and the United States jointly host a Great Lakes Public Forum every three years. The 2022 forum is from September 27-29 at the Crowne Plaza Fallsview Hotel in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and is free to attend.

The forum agenda features three days of sessions to discuss the state of the lakes, progress made under the Agreement and proposed priorities to guide science and actions over the next three years.

As part of the forum agenda, the IJC hosts sessions to gather input from attendees. The IJC has two input sessions during the forum this year: one in the afternoon of September 28 and another mid-morning on September 29.

Not everyone can make it to a three-day event that occurs during the workday. Therefore, the IJC is also hosting a public meeting on the evening of September 28 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. EDT. The meeting will be fully hybrid: participants wishing to attend either in-person at the Niagara Convention Centre or to join it online can register in advance via Eventbrite.

On Tuesday evenings starting in November, the IJC will host virtual webinars to hear from residents from each lake basin (and the St. Lawrence River). Following a brief presentation, a facilitator will guide participants through an interactive process to invite verbal and written input about their experiences with Great Lakes water quality. More details will be in our October Great Lakes Connection, stay tuned.

Other ways to contribute

Not big on public speaking? The IJC has several ways you can provide written comments. An online survey (available in English and French) will be available in September, where you can spend about 10 minutes to provide input. Looking to offer more detail? You can submit written comments (in English or French) through this online submission form. You can also provide us with email or snail-mail comments; all the details are on ijc.org.

What’s it all for?

Every three years, governments report on their activities and the status of Great Lakes water quality, and then the IJC writes its own report assessing progress toward achieving the objectives of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement: the Triennial Assessment of Progress report. The feedback provided to the IJC during this comment period will be considered by the IJC to inform its 2023 report. You can read more about the IJC’s assessment process in our previous newsletter article, or explore the dynamic presentation below: 

 

IJC staff
IJC