On June 17, the 2019 Great Lakes Public Forum will convene in Milwaukee, WI. These forums are a triennial occurrence dictated by the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between the US and Canada. The two nations signed this agreement in 1972 in order to coordinate efforts to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity” of the Great Lakes. This original agreement focused on reducing algae in the Great Lakes through coordinated efforts by the two countries, and the next two decades saw a fall in phosphorus levels across the lakes. Over time, other issues were added to the goals of the agreement, including addressing toxic pollutants and improving the health of Areas of Concern.
The most recent update to the GLWQA occurred in 2012. This version of the agreement includes nine objectives that describe the attributes of improved water quality in the Great Lakes, including such qualities as being a source of safe, high-quality drinking water and supporting healthy and productive wetlands. One of the biggest changes from this update addresses the need for state and provincial governments, tribal governments, First Nations, Métis, municipal governments, watershed management agencies and the public to engage in addressing these issues and provide input to the International Joint Commission (IJC). The IJC advise the US and Canada with respect to the implementation of the GLWQA
The Forum is one of the engagement opportunities provided by the update and is a platform for the US and Canada to communicate to the public the state of the Great Lakes, progress being made under the Agreement, and the Parties’ science and action priorities for the next three years. The public is invited to give input to the IJC at the Forum at a public round table.
The 2019 Forum will run from the 17th through the 19th of June, beginning on the morning of the 17th with a Summary of the State of the Great Lakes. This summary is followed by sessions on each of of the Great Lakes environmental issues defined by the Ten Annexes of the GLWQA. Some of these issues include Areas of Concern, nutrients, and climate change impacts. Each session will will cover the same material surrounding each issue, including
A description of environmental indicators related to that issue
A description of how governmental organizations work together to implement related environmental restoration and protection actions
Examples of implementation success stories from Federal, State, Provincial, Tribal, First Nation, Métis, and community speakers
A description of the proposed priorities to guide related science and actions for the next three years
These sessions continue from the end of the first day to the beginning of the second, and the Forum concludes with the IJC’s Public Round Table. For a more detailed agenda, please follow this link.
Registration to attend the Forum will close on Friday, May 31, 2019.