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United States and Canada Sign Amendments to Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement

[EPA press release - November 18, 1987]

Representatives of the United States and Canada today signed amendments to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1972.

The amendments were signed by EPA Administrator Lee M. Thomas and Canada's Minister of the Environment, Tom McMillan, in Toledo, Ohio, at the biennial meeting of the International Joint Commission.

"I am delighted that representatives from the United States, Canada, the Great Lakes Basin states and various public and private interest groups concerned with the Great Lakes have made these crucial negotiations such an unqualified success," said Thomas.

The original Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, also signed by the United States and Canada, addressed the overall pollution and water deterioration in the five lakes that resulted in excessive algal growth and the contamination of fish. Amendments in 1978 broadened the agreement, developing an integrated ecological approach to researching and understanding the problems of the lakes.

Thomas said that the latest amendments have been designed to reflect the advancements in science and technology since 1978. The amendments are also designed to assure their prompt implementation.

The U.S. Department of State led the negotiations of the amendments with Canada, while representatives from the EPA's Great Lakes National Program Office served as members of the negotiating team and provided technical support.

The new amendments include the development of individual lake management plans to control critical pollutants; remedial action plans for severely polluted areas; programs to address toxic substances entering the Great Lakes from air, land-runoff and groundwater sources; and improved management and accountability procedures to encourage better use of existing resources.

EPA Region 5 Administrator and National Program Manager for the Great Lakes Valdas V. Adamkus said, "The amendments continue the giant strides the United States and Canada have made in protecting and maintaining the Great Lakes and their surrounding environment. In return, the lakes will continue to enhance the quality of life, both economically and aesthetically, for the entire region and beyond."