A report on progress to address Great Lakes environmental issues has been released by the governments of Canada and USA. Research to document progress and shortcoming in addressing these environmental issues is fundamental to continued progress.
The progress report provides information on a wide array of research and environmental monitoring carried out to address issues identified in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The Water Quality Agreement was most recently updated in 2012 and forms the basis for cooperative work between Canada and USA to address Great Lakes environmental issues. The 99 page report is divided into the following sections:
- Discharges from Vessels
- Aquatic Invasives
- Areas of Concern
- Climate Change
The report notes a number of successes including improved water quality, large reductions in release of toxic substances to the Great Lakes (mercury, PCBs, dioxins and furans, pesticides), start of construction of the “Randle Reef” project to address contaminated sediment in Hamilton Harbour, completion of all actions to restore the Nipigon Bay Area of Concern, completion of a Lakewide Action Plan for Lake Superior, thriving populations of species like bald eagles and large-scale reductions in inputs of nutrients like phosphorous which cause algae blooms. Despite this work, algae blooms remain a serious concern in Lake Erie and action plans to achieve a further 40% reduction in phosphorous input have been developed.
The document notes that Canada and USA, in cooperation with provincial governments, tribal governments, First Nations, Métis, municipal governments, watershed management agencies, and the general public will continue concerted efforts to restore and protect the Great Lakes.