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Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement

The Great Lakes Executive Committee (GLEC) serves as a forum for advising and assisting the parties in coordinating, implementing, reviewing and reporting on programs, practices and measures that support the implementation of the GLWQA. The GLEC, co-led by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, includes high-level representatives from federal, provincial and regional governments, tribal, First Nations, Métis, local governments, water basin management agencies and other local public authorities. In addition, a formal committee structure has been established to involve GLEC member organizations in binational work to develop and implement measures to meet commitments in each of the ten areas identified by the GLWQA. The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) is a Canada-U.S. agreement first signed in 1972. It contributes to the quality of life of millions of Canadians by identifying common priorities and coordinating measures to restore and protect the chemical, physical and biological integrity of Great Lakes waters. From 1918 to the late 1960s, the IJC repeatedly reported pollution problems in the Great Lakes and their linkage channels as part of its border treaty jurisdiction. These reports included recommendations for action that formed the basis for the first Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement in 1972. Canada and the United States have agreed to reduce pollution in industries and communities and limit the amount of phosphorus that has entered lakes, resulting in excessive algae growth, particularly in the Erie Sea. New laws have reduced phosphorus levels in household detergents and municipal treatment plants have been upgraded or expanded. Eriesee has recovered rapidly thanks to these efforts, and the value of binational cooperation for environmental rehabilitation in all lakes has been touted internationally as an unprecedented success. The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement is an obligation between the United States and Canada to restore and protect the waters of the Great Lakes.

The agreement provides a framework for identifying binational priorities and implementing measures to improve water quality. CEPOL coordinates U.S. activities under the agreement. The IJC plays a key role in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement proceedings. By evaluating efforts to restore the Great Lakes ecosystem, integrating the public into its vision of Great Lakes health and completing its own research on the lakes facing lakes, the IJC assesses the effectiveness of government programs to achieve the goals and objectives of the agreement. Its three- and biennial evaluation reports and recommendations help both countries expand or modify approaches to address specific challenges and ensure that the agreement evolves to address future lake problems. Environment and Climate Change Canada is leading the implementation of the agreement and working with a number of departments, agencies and agencies on both sides of the boarder representing governments, Aboriginal peoples, water basin management agencies and other local public bodies. Canada is cooperating with the Ontario government as part of the 2014 Great Lakes Water Quality and Health Agreement on Water Quality and Ecosystem Health and is working with Canada, which coordinates the activities of eight federal departments and three provincial departments to support the implementation of the GLWQA. Since the last amendment to the agreement in 1987, approaches to environmental management and our understanding of the ecosystem have evolved. The 2012 agreement reflects this progress by introducing a new focus on coastal water quality and adaptive management approaches.

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