David Nanang, director general of Great Lakes Forestry Centre, speaks with Polish forestry consultant Adam Pogorzelski outside the federal building in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont
Credits: BRIAN KELLY/QMI AGENCY/THE SAULT STAR
SARNIA, Ont — Canada and the U.S. recently signed a renewed Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and the mayor of this city says it’s about time.
Sarnia, Ont., Mayor Mike Bradley said he’s pleased with the amended agreement officials from the two countries signed last week. It’s designed to be blueprint for co-operation on efforts to restore and protect the lakes.
“It has been 25 years since there was a serious review,” said Bradley. “The agreement was originally signed by the Trudeau and Nixon administrations, so that tells you how outdated it is.”
Since then, he said, there have been new threats from invasive species, such as Asian carp, as well as from off-shore wind turbines and gas drilling.
“This will really strengthen our hand in dealing with those issues,” Bradley said.
New provisions in the agreement address near shore environment, aquatic invasive species, habitat degradation, and the effects of climate change.
It also supports continued work to deal with harmful algae, toxic chemicals and discharges from ships.
Putting international agreements together takes a “tremendous amount of focus,” said Lambton, Ont, Warden Steve Arnold.
“Now that it’s in place, people can go forward at looking at how to improve what we have around us.”
There are major issues still be to dealt with on the lakes, said Arnold, who is also mayor of Ontario's St. Clair Township.
“Where we have some work to do is release of phosphorus and nitrates into the natural environment, whether it’s through sewage treatment plants or through the agriculture community.”
Those are problems hurting the lakes that require a “more proactive approach,” Arnold said.
There’s also a need to find better ways of sharing “best practices” and information gathered by a large number of groups working on Great Lakes issues, Arnold said.
“To have a common database, where everyone can find out what everyone else is doing, would be a very positive thing for all of us.”
Bradley pointed to the positive results of long-term efforts to deal with areas of environmental concern on the St. Clair River as a sign progress is being made.
“That shows it’s not rhetoric,” he said. “The actions of industry and governments have made a huge difference.”
He added the Sarnia is completing a major project to help protect the river by separating its storm and sanitary sewers.
“There have been a lot of strides over the last number of years,” Bradley said.