Today, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and Environment and Climate Change Canada jointly published two reports required under the Agreement: the State of the Great Lakes 2022 Report and the 2022 Progress Report of the Parties.
The SOGL report provides a summary of the health of the Great Lakes using indicators of ecosystem health, such as drinking water, fish consumption, and beach closures. Over 120 Great Lakes scientists and other experts worked to assemble available data and prepare Great Lakes assessments. Based on the SOGL indicators, the Great Lakes are collectively assessed as “Fair” and “Unchanging.” There has been tremendous progress in restoring and protecting the Great Lakes, including the reduction of toxic chemicals, and a reduction in the establishment of new non-native aquatic species. Some indicator assessments demonstrate that there are still significant threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem, including the impacts of nutrients, especially in Lake Erie and some nearshore areas in other Great Lakes, and the impacts of invasive species. Climate change is intensifying some ecosystem threats.
The Progress Report of the Parties describes recent achievements in restoring and protecting Great Lakes water quality and ecosystem health. Over the last three years, governmental partners have made significant progress in implementing the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Unprecedented progress has been made to remediate and restore Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOCs), including remediating over 1,280,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment and formally restoring and delisting two AOCs. Reducing excess phosphorus inputs to Lake Erie remains a high priority for action. The United States has reduced agricultural and municipal sources of phosphorus to the Lake Erie watershed by over 3 million pounds (1,361 tonnes) between 2015 and 2020; Canada has reduced phosphorus loading to the watershed by 44,093 pounds (20 tonnes). Governmental agencies continue to reduce populations of silver and bighead carp in the Illinois River and take other measures to prevent these invaders from becoming established in the Great Lakes. Hundreds of projects that restore the health of Great Lakes watersheds, coastlines, and aquatic habitats have been implemented.