Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes: annex 5

Annex 5: lakewide management

The purpose of this annex is to advance restoration, protection and conservation of the Great Lakes through collaboration among jurisdictions domestically and binationally and with the Great Lakes community on a lake-by-lake basis.

Lakewide action and management plans (LAMPs) provide a mechanism to assess and report on the state of the ecosystem, identify science and management priorities, conduct studies and outreach activities, and identify the need for and facilitate further action. The Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement outlines a commitment to update and implement LAMPs for each of the four Canadian Great Lakes including their major river systems of St. Marys, St. Clair, Detroit, Niagara and the international section of the St. Lawrence. It also contains commitments to develop lake ecosystem objectives, a new nearshore framework, and consult and cooperate with the Great Lakes community to assess the status of each Great Lake and address environmental stressors on a lakewide scale.

The nearshore areas of the Great Lakes have great biological diversity, provide numerous benefits and are the focal point for human interaction with the Lakes but are also subject to tremendous human impact. The nearshore framework will provide a foundation for assessing and managing the nearshore including Great Lakes beaches. It will be science-based, consider sources of stress and potential stress, and will include monitoring and reporting.

This Annex builds on and supports existing and new initiatives in priority geographies in each Great Lake to help achieve ecosystem objectives and to address those lakewide and nearshore issues that can be best addressed on a lakewide scale. Commitments in other annexes such as nutrients, areas of concern, habitat and species, and harmful pollutants also support the objectives of this annex.

The Great Lakes are Ontario’s primary source of drinking water. This annex includes commitments to further assess and address threats to sources of drinking water in connection with efforts under Ontario’s Clean Water Act, 2006 as well as through existing federal policies and programs. Commitments throughout the agreement are augmented by ongoing federal and provincial programs such as the federal contaminated sites action plan, and provincial contaminated site remediation efforts.

Goal 1: Manage lakewide ecosystem conditions and threats

Result 1.1 - The status of each of the Great Lakes, including the connecting river systems, is regularly assessed and reported, and issues best addressed on a lakewide scale are coordinated and implemented binationally through LAMPs and with domestic agencies and organizations.

Canada will lead, with Ontario’s support:

  • (a) Establishment of binational Lake Ecosystem Objectives by 2017 and continuing efforts to achieve existing targets in the interim;
  • (b) Assessment and reporting on the state of the waters (physical, chemical and biological attributes) and ecosystem health of each Canadian Great Lake and its connecting channels including current and future potential threats and trends;
  • (c) Identification of research, monitoring and other science priorities for the assessment of current and future potential threats to water quality and lake ecosystem health, including climate change, and for the identification of priorities to support management actions;
  • (d) Science and monitoring surveys, inventories, studies and outreach activities that support the above assessments and management actions;
  • (e) Identification and coordination of required actions by government agencies and the Great Lakes community to address priority threats to water quality and lake ecosystem health and the achievement of lake ecosystem objectives;
  • (f) Canadian input to development and implementation of lake-specific binational strategies to address objectives and any current and future potential threats to water quality and lake ecosystem health that are judged to be best addressed on a lake-by-lake basis;
  • (g) Publication of LAMPs for each lake, on a five-year rotational basis such that LAMPs for Lakes Erie, Superior, Huron and Ontario will be completed by 2018; and
  • (h) The update of LAMPs after 2016 to include actions to implement the nearshore framework.

Result 1.2 - The Great Lakes community is engaged in decision making and taking action to restore, protect and conserve the lakes and connecting rivers.

Canada will lead, with Ontario’s support:

  • (a) Engagement of the Great Lakes community in:
    • lake ecosystem objectives;
    • research, monitoring and other science priorities;
    • priorities for action, identifying and communicating opportunities for action, and undertaking action; and
    • identifying and implementing approaches to increase community engagement/involvement at the lake level for each lake.

Goal 2: Improved ecological health of nearshore areas through assessment, identification of priority areas and integrated management, including prevention, restoration and protection.

Result 2.1 - A Great Lakes nearshore framework, including beaches, is developed and implementation is initiated, in cooperation with the Great Lakes community.

Canada will lead, with Ontario’s support:

  • (a) Development of, in recognition of lessons learned from previous and ongoing nearshore and coastal initiatives, an integrated binational framework for Great Lakes nearshore assessment and management by 2016, followed by implementation. The framework will include:
    • Assessment of the state of the Canadian nearshore of the Great Lakes;
    • Identification of nearshore areas that are or may become subject to high stress due to individual or cumulative impacts on the chemical, physical or biological integrity of those areas;
    • Identification of nearshore areas that are of high ecological value;
    • Identification of priority nearshore areas for prevention, restoration and protection at an appropriate scale to support management action; and
    • Identification of stresses (including climate change), causes, sources of contamination, management targets (thresholds, objectives, etc.), management actions and implementation mechanisms for priority areas.

Ontario will:

  • (b) Identify priority areas using existing information and work with agencies and organizations to identify and support initiatives that will result in improvements to nearshore areas and provide examples of integrated management that can be used as models for future approaches to address nearshore issues.

Goal 3: Take action with the Great Lakes community to address priority lakewide and nearshore issues.

Result 3.1 - Initiatives and lake-specific priority actions to address current and future threats to water quality and ecosystem health, including beach quality, and to achieve lake ecosystem objectives, as identified through LAMPs and the nearshore framework.

Canada and Ontario will:

  • (a) Take action for Lake Ontario through such initiatives as:
    • Western Lake Ontario Collaborative;
    • Support of the Niagara River Toxics Management Plan including the secretariat, public engagement, Niagara River water quality and biomonitoring;
  • (b) Take action for Lake Erie through such initiatives as:
    • Grand River Water Management Plan and Southern Grand Rehabilitation Initiative;
    • Thames River Water Management Plan and Clear Water Revival;
    • Western Lake Erie Watersheds Priority Natural Area Agreement;
    • Canadian Lake St. Clair Management Plan;
  • (c) Take action for Lake Huron through such initiatives as:
    • Lake Huron Georgian Bay Framework for Community Action;
    • Healthy Lake Huron Clean Water, Clean Beaches Campaign (Southeast Shores);
    • Southern Georgian Bay Shoreline Management Plan;
  • (d) Take action for Lake Superior through such initiatives as:
    • National Marine Conservation Area; and
    • Implementation and reporting on progress of the Lake Superior Zero Discharge Demonstration Program including the 2015 Chemical Milestones Report and a “lessons learned” analysis.

Result 3.2 - Local efforts to improve public beach water quality and beach ecosystems.

Canada will:

  • (a) Issue regular public reports on the number of days that beaches are open and safe for swimming at Great Lakes monitored beaches.

Ontario will:

  • (b) Enhance understanding of the causes of E. coli or other substances that reduce use of beaches;
  • (c) Promote the use of enhanced beach management tools;
  • (d) Review the E. coli standard for bathing beach water quality; and
  • (e) Support community participation in beach stewardship, rejuvenation and education programs.

Result 3.3 - Ongoing research and monitoring to support nearshore and coastal-related decision making and to identify and understand emerging issues.

Canada and Ontario will:

  • (a) In a manner consistent with binational commitments, and in collaboration with other Great Lakes agencies, support development and implementation of a nearshore framework.

Result 3.4 - Potential risks to the Great Lakes as a source of safe drinking water are identified and assessed, and early actions to manage risks are undertaken.

Canada will:

  • (a) Collaboratively pursue strengthening the protection of the Great Lakes as a source of safe drinking water through existing binational mechanisms; and
  • (b) Implement federal policies and programs that are protective of the Great Lakes as a source of safe drinking water.

Ontario will:

  • (c) Identify sensitive areas and mitigate risks to drinking water;
  • (d) Provide available datasets, studies and expertise to support the identification and assessment of issues and threats to drinking water sources; and
  • (e) Maintain and/or develop programs to provide education and outreach on the protection of drinking water sources, and to identify/support action to mitigate potential threats to source water.

Result 3.5 - Improved understanding and implementation of adaptive management approaches to lake level regulation.

Canada and Ontario will:

  • (a) Enhance understanding of the water budget within the Great Lakes basin, including lake supply, precipitation, evaporation, and watershed runoff, and factors that contribute to changing lake levels and the relationship with other natural lakes;
  • (b) Explore opportunities to collaborate on lake level adaptive management strategies as they relate to water quality and ecosystem health; and
  • (c) Consider adaptive management plans proposed by the International Joint Commission for the Upper Great Lakes and the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system.

Ontario will:

  • (d) Improve understanding of cumulative impacts of water withdrawals, diversions, and consumptive uses on the water resources and ecosystems of the Great Lakes basin;
  • (e) Produce and maintain base mapping information products to be used by the Great Lakes scientific and policy development communities, such as elevation, hydrology features, wetlands, roads and multi-date/multi-resolution ortho-images; and
  • (f) Produce and maintain water use data and make them accessible to water management agencies across the Great Lakes basin.

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