The 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement: A Crucial Step in Protecting Our Water Resources
The Great Lakes, which hold 84% of North America`s freshwater and provide drinking water to over 40 million people, are an essential part of our natural heritage. However, for many years, pollution and industrial activities threatened the health of this vital ecosystem. To address these issues, the United States and Canada signed the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) in 1972, and it was amended in 1987 to further strengthen protection measures. In this article, we will discuss the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and its significance in protecting our water resources.
What is the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement?
The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement is a joint agreement between the United States and Canada aimed at restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Great Lakes ecosystem. This agreement covers a wide range of issues, including reducing pollution, protecting and restoring critical habitats, managing wastewater, and controlling invasive species.
The 1987 Amendments
The 1987 amendments to the GLWQA are an important milestone in the ongoing efforts to safeguard the Great Lakes. The amendments strengthened existing measures and created new programs to address emerging environmental issues. One of the most significant changes was the inclusion of more precise targets and timetables to measure progress towards the agreement`s goals. The amendments also created new programs to respond to emerging environmental concerns, such as toxic pollutants, air deposition, and coastal zone management.
Key Provisions of the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement
Some of the key provisions of the 1987 GLWQA include:
1. Reduction of toxic substances: The agreement seeks to reduce the release and impact of toxic substances in the Great Lakes basin. This includes developing and implementing pollution prevention programs, promoting the use of alternative technologies, and setting emission standards for industries.
2. Protection and restoration of critical habitats: The GLWQA aims to protect and restore critical habitats that are important for the survival of fish and wildlife in the Great Lakes ecosystem. This includes wetlands, beaches, and other natural areas.
3. Wastewater management: The agreement requires the development of comprehensive wastewater treatment plans for all the municipalities in the Great Lakes basin. This includes the use of advanced treatment technologies and the implementation of stormwater management programs.
4. Invasive species management: Invasive species are a significant threat to the Great Lakes ecosystem. The GLWQA requires the development of programs to control and manage the spread of invasive species.
The Impact of the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement
The 1987 amendments to the GLWQA have had a significant impact on the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes ecosystem. Since the agreement was signed, there have been significant reductions in the release of toxic substances, improvements in wastewater treatment, and the protection and restoration of critical habitats.
However, there is still much work to be done to safeguard the Great Lakes for future generations. Emerging environmental issues, such as climate change and the spread of new pollutants, continue to pose challenges to the Great Lakes ecosystem. The ongoing implementation of the GLWQA and continued collaboration between the United States and Canada is crucial in addressing these challenges.
The 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement is a crucial step in protecting and restoring the Great Lakes ecosystem. It provides a framework for addressing the complex environmental challenges facing the region and has resulted in significant improvements in water quality and habitat protection. However, there is still much work to be done, and continued efforts are necessary to ensure the health and sustainability of the Great Lakes for future generations.