IJC’s Science Advisory Board proposes improvements in measuring Great Lakes health


Do the Great Lakes provide safe, high quality drinking water? Can we swim and fish without health concerns? Are fish and other aquatic species thriving or declining? To answer these questions, scientists and governments must have accurate measures, or indicators, that reflect the health of the Great Lakes.

The Research Coordination Committee of the IJC’s Great Lakes Science Advisory Board has proposed additional measures for indicators used to report on the state of the Great Lakes, and evaluated the quality and quantity of data available on them. In its report released today, Future Improvements to Great Lakes Indicators, the committee proposes the following recommendations for the IJC and Parties to consider for future improvements in achieving the objectives of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement:

  • the condition of sources of drinking water in addition to the condition of treated drinking water
  • loadings of total phosphorus and dissolved reactive phosphorus from the major Great Lakes tributaries
  • progress in Asian carp monitoring and prevention. 

The Committee also proposes that binational efforts are needed to develop a long-term, focused sampling program that collects adequate indicator data and synthesizes, integrates and harmonizes the data to make it accessible and easy to interpret. The Committee suggests that publicly accessible data at a centralized location would not only increase the efficiency, consistency and transparency of the assessment of progress, but also enhance the effectiveness of information delivery for public awareness and science based policy and management decision making.

The IJC was established under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to help the United States and Canada prevent and resolve disputes over the use of the waters the two countries share. The IJC’s responsibilities include reporting on progress made under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of theGreat Lakesand connecting waters. The SAB-RCC is one of the key advisory groups to the IJC, in addition to the SAB’s Science Priority Committee and the Great Lakes Water Quality Board.

For more information:

Sally Cole-Misch          Windsor, Ontario          519-257-6733                colemischs@windsor.ijc.org