In 2012, Canada and the United States, following extensive binational audits, consultations and negotiations conducted by the IJC and the two countries, amended the agreement again, expanding their commitment to address the problems facing lakes through nine specific objectives or objectives and ten annexes. The 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement also took into account the commitments made to date to take the entire ecosystem into account in all binational work, as well as the overall goal of restoring and preserving the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the lakes. In 2012, the agreement underwent a substantial review, for example following previous reports and recommendations for evaluation by the IJC, and following a broad consultation and review process conducted by the IJC. The 2012 agreement contains nine objectives or objectives that both countries are committed to achieving, as well as ten annexes that set out commitments on specific issues that could affect the water quality of the Great Lakes. In previous versions of the agreement, the IJC was required to report every two years on the progress made by Canada and the United States in restoring and protecting lakes. It met every two years to find out whether local citizens – including citizens of non-governmental organizations, government agencies, universities and indigenous communities – felt that the lakes would improve or worsen, and combined this entry with its own assessments to publish reports every two years, the last of which was published in April 2013. This 16th Biennale report contained more than 40 recommendations regarding the new 2012 version of the agreement. From 1918 to the late 1960s, the IJC repeatedly reported pollution problems in the Great Lakes and their linkage channels as part of its border treaty jurisdiction. These reports included recommendations for action that formed the basis for the first Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement in 1972. Canada and the United States have agreed to reduce pollution in industries and communities and limit the amount of phosphorus that has entered lakes, resulting in excessive algae growth, particularly in the Erie Sea. New laws have reduced phosphorus levels in household detergents and municipal treatment plants have been upgraded or expanded. Eriesee has recovered rapidly thanks to these efforts, and the value of binational cooperation for environmental rehabilitation in all lakes has been touted internationally as an unprecedented success. The first Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement established a Water Quality Council and a Research or Science Advisory Board, which examines and presents specific issues to help the JMI assess the progress of the agreement.
It has also established a regional office for the Great Lakes to support these bodies and the IJC in their contractual obligations. While the composition of these councils has evolved over the years, they are both essential components of the work of the CYM. Visit their websites to learn more about current research priorities, reports, workshops and webinars. In addition, Canada and the United States have committed to submit their own progress reports every three years at a public forum. The IJC will review this report and its own research and solicit public contributions on lake health before publishing its assessment report, also on a three-year basis. The first government progress report was published in October 2016 and, at the same time, a public forum for the Great Lakes was held.