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Great Lakes Lakewide Management Plans (LaMPS)

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Lakewide Management Plans

Lake Erie Binational Site

Beneficial Use Impairment Assessment

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In September 1994, the Lake Erie LaMP Management Committee charged the Beneficial Use Impairment Assessment Subcommittee to initiate a beneficial use impairment assessment with an initial focus on the 14 beneficial use impairments listed in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA). (An impairment of beneficial uses means a change in the chemical, physical or biological integrity of the Great Lakes System sufficient to cause any of the 14 conditions outlined in Annex 2.1.c of the GLWQA.)

Beneficial use impairments are being assessed within the waters of Lake Erie, including open waters, nearshore areas, embayments and river mouths. The upstream margin of the lake effect zone is used to define the geographic extent of impairments in rivers tributary to Lake Erie. The lake effect zone is the area where the waters of the Lake and river are mixed.

Each report will identify the standards used in the assessment; the years that information is available; and the years used in the assessment. It will also identify references used; locations of known impairments; and causes and or sources of the impairment if known. Any data gaps and additional questions that must be addressed before further assessment can be accomplished is also discussed.

Some impairments can be measured against existing standards while others will require development of assessment criteria during the LaMP development process.

What Is Beneficial Use Impairment Assessment?

Just like our physical bodies, after years of wear and tear, Lake Erie is getting a "check up". In other words we need to examine Lake Erie and find out what the problems are. This is the primary purpose of the Beneficial Use Impairment Assessment or BUIA.

The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement lists 14 beneficial use impairments against which the health of the Great Lakes are to be measured. These impairments and associated criteria are:

For each beneficial use impairment assessment completed to date, two documents are available: a technical report (20 to 200 pages in length) with full details about how the assessment was done, and a fact sheet, which is a summary (2 to 3 pages) of the full report.


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