U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Canada’s Minister of the Environment have signed the newly amended Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The agreement, first signed in 1972 and last amended in 1987, is binational effort to protect the world’s largest surface freshwater system and the health of the surrounding communities.
The revised agreement will facilitate United States and Canadian action on threats to Great Lakes water quality and includes measures to anticipate and prevent ecological harm. New provisions address aquatic invasive species, habitat degradation and the effects of climate change, and support continued work on existing threats to human health and the environment in the Great Lakes Basin such as harmful algae, toxic chemicals, and discharges from vessels.
The overall purpose of the Agreement is “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the waters” of the Great Lakes and the portion of the St. Lawrence River that includes the Canada-United States border. Both governments sought extensive input from stakeholders before and throughout the negotiations to amend the Agreement. Additionally, the amended Agreement expands opportunities for public participation on Great Lakes issues.