Ground Water Canada

Ground water’s link to Great Lakes water quality needs definition says IJC report

November 28, 2017  By Ground Water Canada

Nov. 28, 2017, Canada and United States – Although the inclusion of ground water contaminant levels has improved reporting on Great Lakes water quality, more work needs to be done to understand connections between ground water and surface water quality, says a report by the International Joint Commission.

In its First Triennial Assessment of Progress under the 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the International Joint Commission (IJC) lists ground water quality for the overall Great Lakes Basin as “status fair, trend undetermined.”

The commission concludes: “The Parties have worked diligently to identify scientific gaps in the understanding of connections between groundwater and Great Lakes water quality. The Parties are now working to close those gaps through the establishment of their 2017-19 Binational Priorities for Science and Action. Reporting on the status of groundwater quality in the Great Lakes basin has improved through the inclusion of groundwater contaminant levels.”


The agreement includes 10 articles that specify how it will be implemented, including the IJC’s assessment role and how Canada and the U.S. will work together and with others in the region. Ten annexes outline specific programs that will be completed to accomplish the commission’s goals:

·      Areas of Concern
·      Lakewide Management
·      Chemicals of Mutual Concern
·      Nutrients
·      Discharges from Vessels
·      Aquatic Invasive Species
·      Habitat and Species
·      Ground water
·      Climate Change Impacts
·      Science

The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement’s objectives include having water that is:

·      free from impacts of contaminated ground water
·      safe, high-quality drinking water
·      safe for swimming and other recreational use
·      safe for consumption of fish and wildlife
·      free from pollutants in quantities or concentrations that could harm human health, wildlife or aquatic organisms
·      supportive of healthy and productive wetlands and other habitats to sustain native species populations
·      free from nutrients that promote algae growth and resulting cyanobacteria
·      free from aquatic invasive species and land free from terrestrial invasive species that impact water quality
·      free from other substances, materials or conditions that negatively impact the chemical, physical or biological integrity of the Great Lakes

The assessment of ground water begins on page 120 of the full report.

Read more about the report’s conclusions in other aspects of water.

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