New report on Great Lakes pushes monitoring, regulations for farmers

Nov 28, 2017

A new report from the International Joint Commission, a bi-national agency, says the Great Lakes restoration continues to progress -- but not quickly enough.


The commission makes several recommendations to the U.S. and Canada, in its review of a 2012 water quality agreement.

Among them is evaluating farm practices aimed at reducing pollution – especially the fertilizer runoff that feeds algae blooms in Lake Erie. 

IJC Commissioner Lana Pollack says that will show whether the money is well spent.  

“You could save a lot of money if you spent a little money on monitoring,” she says. “Figure out what works, what doesn’t work, and stop paying for things that don’t work.”

The IJC calls for mandatory, enforceable standards for farmers instead of voluntary efforts. 

“Whatever’s being done now is not sufficient,” Pollack says.

The report, released Tuesday, also calls for improving sewage treatment facilities and moving more quickly to address harmful chemicals. 

Right now, there are eight listed Chemicals of Mutual Concern.  They include mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls, better known as PCBs.  The report calls the U.S. and Canadian government’s pace “slow” to address other chemicals, including a number of pesticides.

And the assessment says Ohio’s portion of western Lake Erie should be labeled impaired, which could lead to tougher regulation.

But the IJC cannot enforce its policies – it can only make recommendations to the US and Canada.