Put a plan in place — A sustainability plan for the Rainy-Lake of the Woods Basin. A plan with internationally-agreed objectives, targets and actions needed. An international framework to oversee the plan.
Sounds reasonable, right? We been working towards this goal and many of the pieces are now in place.
The IJC Lake of the Woods Water Quality Plan of Study provides the model, with the key pillars of the sustainability plan, with binational strategies for:
- Nutrient management to combat harmful algal blooms
- Aquatic Invasive Species prevention and response
- Surface and Groundwater contamination risk mitigation
- Systematic monitoring across the basin
The IJC and its watershed board is the binational watershed governance framework in our basin, established with the support of the provinces, state and the national governments. The watershed board has participation of government agencies, First Nations, Métis, US Tribes and the public and existing mechanisms to engage public and industrial stakeholders.
A binational approach is needed that provides for sustained outcomes for the lake, including establishment of water quality objectives, targets, timelines, and a mechanism for ongoing accountability and assessment of progress binationally toward objectives.
What's needed to move forward?
- An international water quality agreement and process.
- A water quality agreement that establishes objectives, targets and allocations for phosphorus and processes to achieve them along with review and reporting requirements, perhaps modeled on the GLWQA Annex 4 process, most recently applied to Lake Erie.
- IJC role for ongoing oversight and accountability.
- The IJC should have the role for ongoing oversight and independent assessment and reporting on programs in both countries and progress towards meeting water quality objectives and targets—similar to its role on the Great Lakes.
- Science integration in support of binational action.
- The science plan being developed by Canada should be integrated with and support the processes underway in Minnesota to set phosphorus water quality objectives, targets and allocations to inform development of remedial action plans binationally.