Report on Great Lakes water quality warns U.S., Canada

The International Joint Commission released its 12th Biennial Report on Great Lakes Water Quality, with a warning for U.S. and Canadian governments on the potential impact of microbial threats, airborne mercury and urban sprawl...

DETROIT, MI, & WINDSOR, ON, Canada, Sept. 13, 2004 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The International Joint Commission released its 12th Biennial Report on Great Lakes Water Quality, with a warning for U.S. and Canadian governments.

According to the study, new antibiotic-resistant pathogens, airborne mercury and urban sprawl are threatening the health of the Great Lakes and millions of people who live around the bodies of fresh water, reported the Canadian Press.

While water quality has generally improved over 30 years, the IJC concluded new and emerging threats require urgent attention. "Without adequate safeguards, our health can be threatened by pathogens and disease-bearing micro-organisms," the report states. "The governments must focus increased attention on protecting the sources of drinking water supplies."

This important report not only addresses current issues facing the health and vitality of the Great Lakes -- it triggers the official review, by the United States and Canada, of the historic Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

In this report to the governments of the U.S. and Canada, the IJC highlights key issues for all who live in the Great Lakes region. It contains specific recommendations relating to the effects of urbanization on our lakes; threats associated with alien invasive species; pathogens and disease bearing microorganisms in drinking water sources; chemical contamination, methyl mercury and human health; and the recent ecological changes taking place in Lake Erie.

Significantly, this report triggers the much anticipated review, by governments, of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The current Agreement was signed in 1978 and was amended in 1987. It has not been updated or changed in more than 17 years. During this time, technology and our scientific knowledge and understanding have grown immensely. We need to keep pace with what we know and review the effectiveness of the Agreement with an eye toward the future.

Fact sheets providing detailed information and the IJC's recommendations about each individual topic and illustrations and graphics for use from the Twelfth Biennial Report are available at www.ijc.org. The report is available in hard copy or CD in both English and French free of charge and may also be obtained on IJC's website.

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