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Great Lakes Strategy 2002

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Great Lakes Strategy 2002
A Plan for the New Millennium

A Strategic Plan for the Great Lakes Ecosystem


Beneficial Use Impairments

The Great Lakes shall be free of the following as a result of human activities in the Basin:


Desired Outcomes for the Great Lakes Ecosystem

Fishability - There shall be no restrictions on the human consumption of fish in the waters of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem as a result of anthropogenic (human) inputs of persistent toxics.

Swimmability - No public bathing beaches closed as a result of human activities, or conversely, all beaches are open and available for public swimming.

Drinkability - Treated drinking water is safe for human consumption; human activities do not result in application of consumption restrictions.

Healthy Human Populations - Human populations in the Great Lakes are healthy and free from acute illness associated with locally high levels of contaminants, or chronic illness associated with long-term exposure to low levels of contaminants.

Economic Viability - A regional economy that is viable, sustainable, and provides adequate sustenance and dignity for the human population of the Great Lakes.

Biological Community Integrity - Maintenance of the diversity of biological communities, species, and genetic variations within a species.

Virtual Elimination of Inputs of Persistent Toxic Substances - Virtual Elimination of inputs of persistent toxic substances to the Great Lakes system.

Absence of Excess Phosphorus - Absence of excess phosphorus entering the water as a result of human activity.

Physical Environmental Integrity - Land development and use compatible with maintaining aquatic habitat of a quantity and quality necessary and sufficient to sustain an endemic assemblage offish and wildlife populations.

Water Quantity - There will be no diversion of Great Lakes waters that adversely affects any aspect of the Basin.


Note: The desired outcomes have been developed by an IJC indicator task force and are provided here for reference. For more information see: http://www.ijc.org/en/boards/boards_conseils.htm

Binational Toxic Strategy Goals and Challenges for the United States

Confirm by 1998, that there is no longer use, generation or release from sources that enter the Great Lakes Basin, of five bioaccumulative pesticides (chlordane, aldrin/dieldrin, DDT, mirex, and toxaphene), and of the industrial by-product octachlorostyrene. If ongoing, long range sources of these substances from outside of the United States and Canada are confirmed, work within existing international framework to reduce or phase out releases of the substances.

Confirm by 1998, that there is no longer use of alkyl-lead in automotive gasoline; reduce or replace by 2005, alkyl lead in aviation fuel.

Seek by 2006, a 90 percent reduction nationally of high level PCBs (>500ppm) used in electrical equipment.

Seek by 2006, a 50 percent reduction nationally in the deliberate use and 50 percent reduction nationally in the release of mercury from sources resulting from human activity.

Seek by 2006, a 75 percent reduction nationally in total releases of dioxins and furans from sources resulting from human activity. Seek by 2005, reductions nationally in releases of hexachlorobenzene, B(a)P, and dioxins, from sources resulting from human activity that enter the Great Lakes Basin.

Promote prevention and reduced releases of Level 11 substances. Increase knowledge on sources and environmental levels of these chemicals.

Assess atmospheric inputs of persistent toxic substances. The aim of this effort is to jointly evaluate and report on impact of long range transport of persistent toxic substances from world sources by 1998. If ongoing long-range sources are confirmed, work within existing international framework to reduce releases of such substances.

Complete or be well advanced in remediation of priority sites with contaminated bottom sediments, in the Great Lakes Basin by 2006.

Binational Toxic Strategy of 1997

Role of Partners and Agencies in the Great Lakes Basin

A number of Federal, State and Tribal agencies and jurisdictions have important and essential roles to play in Great Lakes clean up and protection, are partners to this Strategy, and have significant authorities and resources that will be coordinated effectively to assist in accomplishing this Strategy. Following is a brief description of their roles and responsibilities with respect to Great Lakes clean up and protection.

Role of the Great Lakes States and Local Partners
Each of the eight Great Lakes States has environmental and natural resource agencies or divisions. These agencies have primary responsibility in implementing key pollution control programs. In addition, they have developed many unique programs to meet the needs of the Great Lakes and have been leaders, individually and as a group, in addressing major environmental issues. The States have primacy in managing fisheries and many other natural resource issues.

Role of Great Lakes Tribes and Tribal Organizations
The Great Lakes Tribal Governments (over 30 U.S. Tribes) have important roles to play in ecosystem protection for the Great Lakes and will implement activities as part of the Tribal Environmental Agreements. In addition, many Tribes have participated in the development of this Strategy, and will assist in its implementation. The Chippewa/Ottawa Treaty Fishery Management Authority and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission have also been invited to participate in implementing the Strategy. Activities within their jurisdictions will be identified and implemented as part of the Strategy.

Role of Federal Agencies
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has funded epidemiologic research in the Great Lakes Basin since 1992. Over the past three years, the ATSDR Great Lakes Human Health Effects Research Program (GLHHERP) has made significant progress in reporting and evaluating findings that address public health issues from exposure to contaminants in the Basin.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has environmental stewardship, assessment, and prediction responsibilities in the Great Lakes. The Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory conducts physical, chemical, and biotic research and environmental modeling, providing scientific expertise and services to manage and protect ecosystems. The laboratory’s investigations help to improve the understanding and prediction of coastal and estuarine processes, including the interdependencies with the atmosphere and sediments. Through the National Ocean Service’s Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R), NOAA acts for the Secretary of Commerce on behalf of the public as a natural resource trustee agency to protect and restore aquatic natural resources and associated human-use services such as safe navigation and transportation via maintained navigation channels, recreation, commercial fishing, and flood control provided by wetlands. OR&R actively promotes protection of aquatic species and habitats by working with Federal, State, and Tribal agencies, as well as with industry, to assess and cleanup contaminated sediments in the Great Lakes and receiving waters. OR&R strives to resolve liability for natural resource injury by restoring: habitat, affected species, and associated services provided by those natural resources. OR&R provides information on shoreline classification, occurrence of biological resources, and human-use resources to assist in remedial and restoration planning at contaminated sediment sites and to support spill response activities. OR&R also conducts prevention and preparedness activities to prevent further degradation of Great Lakes sediments. The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, in partnership with state Coastal Zone Management programs, works with local communities and State agencies to preserve, protect, develop, restore, and enhance coastal zone resources. OCRM provides research, education, and protection of coastal and estuarine areas through the National Estuarine Research Reserve and National Marine Sanctuary programs and fosters economic redevelopment through Brownfields Showcase Grants. The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) conducts research, monitoring, and assessments of the coastal environment. NCCOS predicts impacts of pollution and coastal development on sensitive habitats and resources. NCCOS maintains contaminant-monitoring sites in Green Bay, and Lakes Michigan, Huron, St. Clair, Erie and Ontario to determine temporal contaminant trends. The Office of Coast Survey provides surveying, nautical charts, and other navigation services for safe shipping and boating. National Sea Grant Program, a partnership between universities and NOAA, encourages stewardship of Great Lakes coastal natural resources by providing funding to area universities for research of biotic, physical, and chemical systems, and for education, outreach and technology transfer. National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service, Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) develops and implements techniques and products to improve severe storm forecasting. The National Weather Service provides the weather and flood warnings, forecasts, and meteorological and hydrologic data used by research, environmental management, transportation, and community interests in the Great Lakes.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has responsibility for a civil works program under which it develops, maintains, and conserves the Nation's water and related land resources. It administers permit programs related to navigation and changes to the waters of the U.S.. The USACE plays a critical role in operating and maintaining the navigable waterways of the Great Lakes.

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) regulates pollution from ships, as well as the ship borne introduction of exotic species. Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the Coast Guard has the lead responsibility for responding to oil spills in the Great Lakes. The USCG also works with USEPA to establish and implement area and regional Joint Contingency Plans for spills of oil and hazardous substances in the Great Lakes.

Three agencies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) assist landowners with pollution prevention and control of non-point discharges from agricultural operations: the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CREES), and the Farm Services Agency (FSA). NRCS provides national leadership in the conservation and wise use of soil, water, plant, animal, and related resources; it works directly with agricultural producers on pollution prevention and control of non-point source discharges from agricultural operations. It also has an urban conservation program that provides technical assistance on non-point sources, such as: construction site runoff, fertilizer and pesticide inputs from lawns and other grassed areas, septic systems, flood control basins, and sediment storage ponds.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) is responsible for the Nation's regulatory programs for air, water, pesticides, and toxic chemicals. USEPA also sets national direction in environmental policy. Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) will further the systematic and comprehensive approach to ecosystem management of the Great Lakes, as required by the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, by working with the Canadians and with other Federal and State agencies to ensure that compatible and consistent approaches to environmental protection occur across the Basin. GLNPO will continue to provide leadership in updating and implementing this Strategy and will report overall progress, trends in environmental conditions, as well as specific accomplishments, in a timely manner to Congress and the public. GLNPO will assist the Regions and States in the implementation of the Great Lakes efforts and will seek to fulfill its specific mission as set forth in Section118 of the Clean Water Act. USEPA Headquarters, particularly the Office of Water and the Office of International Activities will continue to set overall national policy regarding USEPA's program and implementation of environmental statutes. USEPA Regions 2, 3, and 5 have important roles for carrying out Great Lakes programs, particularly through implementation and targeting of base program activities, and will continue this work to ensure mandates are fulfilled and goals are met.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) serves as trustee to protect the interests of endangered species, migratory birds, and interjurisdictional fishery resources, such as the lake trout and lake sturgeon, and supports the States and other Federal agencies with population and habitat inventories. USFWS also manages 140,000 acres of Federal land holdings in the form of Fish and Wildlife Refuges in this Region and performs resource assessment and research. They are also responsible for Natural Resource Damage Assessments (NRDAs) to recover damages for injuries caused to natural resources (e.g., endangered species, migratory birds, and trust fisheries) by the release of hazardous substances.

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the National Park Service (NPS) both play important roles as stewards of vast, and often unique, Federal land holdings. State and private forestry programs, a cooperative effort of the USFS and State forestry agencies, assist public and private landowners in managing and protecting forest resources.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) conducts various core research and assessment programs within the Great Lakes Region among its four major discipline areas of biology, geology, mapping, and hydrology. The major activities within the geologic discipline include detailed geologic mapping of glacial materials in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio; studies of earth-surface processes in areas prone to shoreline erosion, landslides, and earthquakes; research into the potential effects of changing climate on the earth and its resources; and aquatic-habitat mapping in coastal areas. The major activities within the water discipline include water-quality assessments of nonpoint sources of natural and human-derived contaminants in the watersheds of Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair, and the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers; water-quality research on emerging contaminants such as pathogens, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and mercury; a streamflow-gaging program for appraisal and assessment of water-resource quality and availability, for flood warning systems, and for drought management plans; and a ground water levels network for water use, environmental assessment, and ground-water management. The major activities within the biology discipline include fisheries research and assessment in the Lakes, biodiversity studies in terrestrial, aquatic and coastal habitats, and research into and assessment of invasive species and related control practices. Major activities within the mapping discipline include production of a vast array of mapping products describing the land surface, such as elevation maps, hydrologic maps, maps of land use and land cover, studies of land-surface change in urban and agricultural areas, and new technologies based on satellites and remote sensing.

Role of Binational Agencies
The Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) was established by the Convention on Great Lakes Fisheries between Canada and the United States in 1955. The Commission develops coordinated programs of research on the Great Lakes, and, on the basis of the findings, recommends measures which will permit the maximum sustained productivity of stocks of fish of common concern. It also formulates and implements a program to eradicate or minimize sea lamprey populations in the Great Lakes.

Role of Canadian Partners
Four of the five Lakes (all but Lake Michigan) are shared with Canada. Coordination with Canada involves Federal agencies, as well as provincial agency counterparts in Quebec and Ontario. The binational International Joint Commission is charged with advising the national governments on issues of concern regarding joint stewardship of the Lakes. The U.S. Department of State assists all U.S. Federal agencies as they address Great Lakes issues of concern to both countries. USEPA has lead agency responsibility for coordinating activities relative to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement with Canada (as amended by Protocol signed November 18, 1987). The Great Lakes National Program Office informs the Canada-Ontario Agreement (COA) Review Committee (soon to be replaced by the COA Management Committee) about matters related to water quality and fishery resources.


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