The theme of the 2011 Great Lakes Water Quality Biennial Meeting was "H2O NOW" emphasizing the pressing need for action to protect and restore the Great Lakes. Just as important, "H2O NOW" applies to everyone with a role to play -- to the public, to industry, to environmental organizations and government. More than 600 activists, experts and interested members of the public from throughout the Great Lakes basin gathered in Detroit from October 12th to 14th to learn about the latest research regarding critical threats to water quality, to share ideas and solutions and to join in the collaborative process of producing the 16th Biennial Report. Attendees heard from a wide range of speakers, including US EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and former Vice President Al Gore.
As the U.S. and Canada reach the final stage of negotiations regarding an updated Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the Biennial Meeting was for the first time held in conjunction with annual meetings of the Great Lakes Commission and the Healing Our Waters Coalition, among other organizations. Brought together under the rubric, Great Lakes Week Detroit 2011, the various gatherings brought more than 1000 people to Detroit to focus on protecting and restoring the lakes.
For the past two years, experts from the Water Quality Board, Science Advisory Board, Council of Great Lakes Research Managers, Health Professionals Task Force and International Air Quality Advisory Board (and other expers) have been developing findings and recommendations regarding six key research areas: the Nearshore Framework; Chemicals of Emerging Concern, Harmful/Nuisance Algae; Aquatic Invasive Species; Benefits and Risks of Fish Consumption; and Beaches Recreational Water Quality. Draft reports are now posted and available for public comment. Read the reports, watch the videos and make sure to provide your views, using the comments page. Following the Biennial Meeting and the incorporation of comments received, these reports will become the foundation of a special IJC report to governments, highlighting key findings and top recommendations for immediate action.
Now that the 2011 Great Lakes Water Quality Biennial Meeting is over, it's now your turn to speak out. We heard comments from the hundreds of activists gathered in Detroit, but we still need to hear from you. Make sure to read the six work group reports, the draft report assessing progress since 1987 (see story and report below) and the potential priorities for the 2011-2013 cycle (also below). Then, visit our "comments page" to let us know what you think. Your comments will help inform the 16th Biennial Report on Great Lakes Water Quality.