Public Comment Completed: 2017-2019 Great Lakes Binational Priorities for Science and Action

Article 5, Section 2(c) of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 2012 states:

“…the Parties shall establish, in consultation with the Great Lakes Executive Committee, binational priorities for science and action to address current and future threats to the quality of the Water of the Great Lakes, not later than six months after each Great Lakes Public Forum. The priorities shall be established based on an evaluation of the state of the Great Lakes and input received during the Great Lakes Public Forum and recommendations of the [International Joint] Commission.”

The Governments of Canada and the United States proposed the following draft priorities for science and action that will guide their work under the Agreement for 2017 through 2019. Public comments on the draft priorities were accepted until November 18th, 2016. The public comment period is now closed and the Parties will be working to finalize the priorities over the coming months, leading into 2017.

Annex Priority for Science Priority for Action
1. Areas of Concern Implementation of monitoring and scientific assessments to verify restoration of beneficial uses prior to delisting. Implementation of remedial actions to restore beneficial uses in Areas of Concern.
2. Lakewide Management Pilot application and testing of the Nearshore Framework.

Lake-specific priorities identified through the Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative:

  • Lake Huron 2017: chemicals, nutrients, food web, physical
  • Lake Ontario 2018: nutrients, aquatic, chemical, habitat
  • Lake Erie 2019: priorities to be identified.


2017- 2019: Implement Lake Superior Lakewide Action Management Plan (LAMP) identified actions to address

  • aquatic invasive species,
  • climate change
  • dams/barriers
  • chemicals/substances
  • habitats
  • native species
  • other threats.

Lake Huron LAMP will be completed in 2016/2017.

Lake Ontario LAMP will be completed in 2017.

Lake Erie LAMP will be completed in 2018.

Lake Michigan LAMP will be completed in 2019.

Lake Ecosystem Objectives.

Outreach and Engagement.

3. Chemicals of Mutual Concern (CMCs) Continue research, monitoring and/or surveillance activities identified in the Binational Strategies to address information needs for CMCs and to support future measurement/indicators work.

Coordinate efforts to provide an early warning system for chemicals that could become CMCs.

Continue the development of Binational Strategies that identify cooperative and coordinated measures to reduce anthropogenic inputs of CMCs into the Waters of the Great Lakes.

Identify and asses additional substances for consideration as CMCs, while seeking to utilize the data, input and expertise of the Annex 3 stakeholder community.

4. Nutrients Development and implementation of monitoring and modeling to support tracking and reporting on progress towards achievement of binational phosphorus load reduction targets for Lake Erie.

Research, monitoring and modeling to support assessment and future actions to address algae problems in Lakes Ontario, Huron and Michigan.

Engagement of stakeholders, First Nations and Metis communities in the development of Domestic Action Plans for the reduction of phosphorus loadings to Lake Erie.

Implementation of Domestic Action Plans

Establishment of phosphorus load reduction targets for the eastern basin of Lake Erie.

5. Discharge from Vessels Develop compatible approaches to sampling and analysis of ships ballast water in connection with the ballast water performance standard in 33 CFR Part 151 and Regulation D-2 of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ship’ Ballast Water and Sediments 2004. Seek consistency and compatibility between U.S. and Canada during implementation of USCG ballast water discharge standard, EPA’s Vessel General Permit requirements and development of regulations implementing IMO BW Management Convention.

Working together, with stakeholders towards compatible, fair, practicable and environmentally protective Great Lakes requirements for ballast water management.

6. Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Determine feasibility and effectiveness of AIS eradication and containment methods.

Develop technology and methods to achieve effective barriers that prevent the migration of AIS, while allowing the movement of beneficial species.

Evaluate and enhance AIS early detection technologies and methods.

Refine and enhance the Early Detection & Rapid Response Initiative.

Develop a clearinghouse for AIS species & pathway risk assessments.

7. Habitat and Species Pilot application and testing of the Baseline Habitat Survey on a regional scale for refining the approach to measure Net Habitat Gain and guide implementation at a Great Lakes wide scale. Complete a review of gaps and priorities identified by existing Great Lakes habitat and species conservation strategies and strategic plans and develop a binational framework for prioritizing activities to conserve, protect, maintain, restore and enhance native species and habitat on a Great Lakes wide scale.
8. Groundwater N/A Develop better tools to assess groundwater – surface water interaction and use them to assess regional-scale flow of groundwater to surface waters in the Great Lakes Basin.

Undertake a focused assessment of the geographic distribution of known and potential sources of groundwater contaminants relevant to Great Lakes water quality.

Advance monitoring, surveillance and assessment of groundwater quality in the Great Lakes basin.

9. Climate Change Impacts Refine and implement State of the Great Lakes indicators for assessing and reporting on the impacts of climate change. Identify key areas across the issues of the GLWQA where climate change needs to be considered and integrated.

Review knowledge gaps identified in State of Climate Change Science report with Annex Co-Leads to identify the priority areas for future action.

Continue to regularly deliver climate information through issuance of the “Great Lakes Climate Summaries and Outlooks”.

 10. Science N/A


Implement the Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative to coordinate planning, delivery and reporting of science in relation to specific priorities identified through the Lakewide Management Process.

Issue the State of the Great Lakes reports (2017); continue to work to improve the suite of Great Lakes ecosystem indicators.

Pilot an open data, data management and sharing application system to further the nutrients-related work.


Pamela Finlayson, Environment and Climate Change Canada