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GEO-6 Regional Assessment for North America


Table 3.2.2: History of Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, 1972 – 2012 1972


1978


Limit phosphorus inputs to control algal growth.


Introduction of


ecosystem approach to management.


Call for virtual elimination of toxic pollution.


Source: Binational.net 2016


of jurisdiction were required for more than 60 per cent of the nation’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands. The largest effect of the Clean Water Rule is the implementation of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which established a programme to regulate the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the US, including wetlands. The release of the rule has resulted in a sharply divided water community. Environmental advocates and some local and state governments have found the rule to provide clarity and consistency in implementation of Clean Water Act programmes, but the agricultural community has raised concerns about the potential for additional regulation to the agricultural sector. Multiple states have filed lawsuits against the EPA that claim that the rule illegally expands federal jurisdiction.


Lastly, in an attempt to provide transparency on water availability and quality, and raise public awareness at a time when many areas are affected by water shortage, the Water Survey of Canada and the US Geological Survey collaboratively launched the North America WaterWatch in 2014, a website that maps real-time riverflow conditions for both countries (NAWW 2014; USGS 2014).


Climate change adaptation and water management


Since 2010, there has been a growing interest in understanding community vulnerabilities to climate change as well as development of adaptation plans that protect communities


176


from the impacts of climate change. By 2012, 13 federal agencies in the US and 13 states had completed climate change adaptation plans, most of which included plans to mitigate the impacts of climate change on water resources (Bierbaum et al. 2013). Increasingly, local municipalities are also planning for the effects of climate change on the supply and quality of future water resources. Although such efforts to analyse risks indicate positive momentum in policy changes, very few of the adaptation plans are being implemented in the US (Bierbaum et al. 2013). Adaptation planning in the US has accelerated since President Obama signed Executive Order 13653 directing federal agencies to assist communities to strengthen their resilience to climate change. The Executive Order also established a task force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience made up of state, local, and tribal leaders.


In 2015, the task force delivered a progress report with recommendations to improve resilience of communities, infrastructure, and natural resources (White House 2015). Recommendations include measures


incentivize climate-resilient water resources planning and management including: federal investment in water and related land resources; support for innovative financing; integrating climate change considerations into the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act programmes; and development of a toolkit for climate resilience (White House 2015). Adaptation of water systems to climate change varies across the region. In the Southwest, the need for water


1983


Further limit phosphorus discharges.


1987


Lakewide Management Plans developed and implemented for each lake to reduce toxic pollutants. Remedial Action Plans to clean up Areas of Concern.


2012


Continue to support work on existing threats to water quality. Prevent environmental threats before they cause harm.


Establishment of annexes on specific environmental issues that affect water quality.


to support and


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