Contact: Victoria Pebbles, email@example.com|
New initiatives, web site to assist officials at all levels of
Commission urges binational focus on land use/water quality links
Ann Arbor, Mich. — The continuing urbanization of the Great
Lakes region, particularly in coastal areas and along major
tributaries, suggests the need for a major, binational investigation of
land-use trends, impacts and prospective policy responses, according to
the Great Lakes Commission.
“The links between land use and water quality are increasingly
apparent, but merit further documentaion,” said Dr. Michael J. Donahue,
president/CEO of the Great Lakes Commission. “If we are to resolve our
water quality problems, we can’t just focus on the lakes themselves; we
also need to turn around and look inland.”
Donahue noted that unsound land management practices have resulted in
decreased permeability of land, increased storm water runoff,
heightened nonpoint source pollution problems, and loss of prime
farmland, all of which contribute to water quality problems.
Environmental and economic inefficiencies associated with urban and
suburban sprawl are additional considerations.
A state/provincial agency with basin planning and policy
responsibilities, the Commission has documented the accelerating loss
of farmland and open space in the basin, as well as unsustainable land
use practices that contribute to nonpoint source pollution, alteration
of natural flow regimes, and associated ecological and economic
problems. By unanimous vote at its recent Annual Meeting, the
Commission membership called for a major binational study, noting that
land use decisions and practices “influence water quality and ecosystem
health as well as economic prosperity” at the subwatershed and
basinwide levels (see www.glc.org/about/resolutions/03/10landuse.html
“The planning and the promotion of sustainable land-use practices has
been a Great Lakes Commission priority in recent years,” said Victoria
Pebbles, project manager. “The Commission and its partners have
pioneered efforts to tie brownfields redevelopment and greenfields
preservation strategies together to realize environmental, economic and
A policy roundtable on the topic was held in Michigan earlier this
year, yielding the “top ten” actions that public officials and private
sector partners can undertake to advance these strategies. Thanks to
support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s headquarters
and Great Lakes National Program Office, similar roundtables will be
conducted in other Great Lakes states in the coming months.
The Great Lakes Commission has also recently received a grant from the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Great Lakes National Program
Office to conduct a major Great Lakes nonpoint source conference in
early 2004. Nonpoint source pollution refers to contaminants that
cannot be traced to a single, identifiable source such as a discharge
pipe or smokestack; it includes airborne pollutants and those that
enter water bodies from urban and agricultural runoff.
The conference will mark the 25th annniversary of the International
Joint Commission's seminal study on land use and water quality, known
as the PLUARG (Pollution from Land Use Activities Reference Group)
report. In addition to exploring progress and issues associated with
land use and water quality under the Canada–United States Great Lakes
Water Quality Agreement, the conference will help lay the groundwork
for a major binational investigation of land use trends, impacts and
prospective policy responses.
Mayors, state and provincial officials, and other interested parties
now have instant access to information on best management practices for
land use, thanks to a new Great Lakes Commission web site (www.glc.org/bridges).
The home page links to current land use news from around the Great
Lakes region. The site also has four main topic areas (i.e.,
brownfields, greenfields, smart growth, planning) and features a
library. Designed for ease of navigation and continuously updated, it
will be of particular interest to mayors and other municipal officals
with land-use planning and management leadership responsibilities.
The Great Lakes Commission, chaired by Samuel W. Speck (Ohio), is a
nonpartisan, binational compact agency created by state and U.S.
federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy
environment and high quality of life for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence
region and its residents. The Commission consists of state legislators,
agency officials and governors’ appointees from its eight member
states. Associate membership for Ontario and Québec was established
through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.” The Commission
maintains a formal Observer program involving U.S. and Canadian federal
agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional
interests. The Commission offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.