Groundwater (Annex 8)

A scientist takes a groundwater sample for monitoring. Credit: U.S. Geological Survey.
A scientist collects a groundwater sample for monitoring. Credit: U.S. Geological Survey.

Through the Groundwater Annex of the 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, Canada and the United States have committed to:

“… contribute to the achievement of the General and Specific Objectives of this Agreement by coordinating groundwater science and management actions.”

Key Commitments

The United States and Canada agree to:

  • By 2015, report on relevant and available groundwater science;
  • Establish science priorities and actions to manage, protect, and remediate groundwater;
  • Coordinate binational groundwater activities with domestic programs to assess, protect and manage groundwater quality and understand and manage groundwater-related stresses; and
  • Undertake the necessary groundwater science to:
    • identify impacts on the waters of the Great Lakes;
    • analyze contaminants, including nutrients;
    • assess information gaps and science needs; and
    • analyze other factors, such as climate change, that may affect groundwater’s impact on the Great Lakes.

For additional information on the focus of actions under this Annex, consult the current Priorities for Science and Action. The Priorities are based on an evaluation of the State of the Great Lakes, with input from the Great Lakes Executive Committee, participants at the Great Lakes Public Forum, and recommendations of the International Joint Commission.

Every six months, progress on this annex is reported at the Great Lakes Executive Committee meetings. Accomplishments will be described in the Progress Report of the Parties every three years, with the first expected in 2016.


This annex is implemented by a subcommittee co-led by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the United States Geological Survey. Organizations represented include:

  • Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority
  • Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
  • Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
  • Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
  • Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

As required, time-limited task teams will be created to focus efforts on a priority issue or project, and will be disbanded when work is complete. Currently, the Groundwater Annex subcommittee has one task team that focuses on:

Task TeamPurpose
Groundwater Science ReportSummarize and report on groundwater science in support of this Annex, including: impacts of groundwater on waters of the Great Lakes; analysis of contaminants from point and non-point sources, including nutrients; knowledge gaps and science needs that must be resolved to improve protection efforts; and other factors that affect the interaction between groundwater on waters of the Great Lakes.