Groundwater science relevant to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement: A status report

Edited by: Norman G. Grannemann and Dale Van Stempvoort



When the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) was signed in 1972 by the Governments of Canada and the United States (the “Parties”) (Environment Canada, 2013a), groundwater was not recognized as important to the water quality of the Lakes. At that time, groundwater and surface water were still considered as two separate systems, with almost no appreciation for their interaction. When the GLWQA was revised in 1978 (US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), 2012), groundwater contamination, such as that reported at legacy industrial sites such as those at Love Canal near the Niagara River, was squarely in the news. Consequently, the potential impacts of contaminated groundwater from such sites on Great Lakes water quality became a concern (Beck, 1979), and Annex 16 was added to the agreement, to address “pollution from contaminated groundwater” (Francis, 1989). However, no formal process for reporting under this annex was provided.

The GLWQA Protocol in 1987 modified Annex 16 and called for progress reports beginning in 1988 (USEPA, 1988). The Protocol in 2012 provided a new Annex 8 to address groundwater more holistically (Environment 2 Canada, 2013b). Annex 8 (Environment Canada, 2013b) commits the Parties to coordinate groundwater science and management actions; as a first step, to “publish a report on the relevant and available groundwater science” by February 2015 (this report); and to “identify priorities for science activities and actions for groundwater management, protection, and remediation…” The broader mandate of Annex 8 is to (1) “identify groundwater impacts on the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Waters of the Great Lakes;” (2) “analyze contaminants, including nutrients in groundwater, derived from both point and non-point sources impacting the Waters of the Great Lakes;” (3) “assess information gaps and science needs related to groundwater to protect the quality of the Waters of the Great Lakes;” and (4) “analyze other factors, such as climate change, that individually or cumulatively affect groundwater’s impact on the quality of the Waters of the Great Lakes.” A binational Annex 8 Subcommittee was formed to lead efforts to fulfill the mandate of this annex (members listed on p. i of this report). In turn, this subcommittee has recruited a task team to prepare this report (listed as authors of each chapter). This report addresses all of the above four objectives, based on a compilation of the “relevant and available groundwater science.” Specifically, the second objective (to “analyze contaminants”) is addressed by incorporating information obtained in ongoing monitoring and research activities conducted by the Parties, and by various other members of the Great Lakes Executive Committee.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Report
Title Groundwater science relevant to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement: A status report
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Environment and Climate Change Canada and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Contributing office(s) Midwest Regional Director's Office
Description vi, 100 p.
Country Canada, United States
State Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin
Other Geospatial Great Lakes