What is the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement?

A satellite image shows what the Great Lakes look like from space. A green earth, with white clouds bordering the top and bottom of the picture.

A satellite image shows the Great Lakes from space. A green Earth, with white clouds bordering the top and bottom of the picture.

Credit: © NASA and GeoEye. 

The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) is an agreement between Canada and the United States, first signed in 1972.  It contributes to the quality of life of millions of Canadians by identifying shared priorities and coordinating actions to restore and protect the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes.

In amending the agreement in 2012, the Governments of Canada and the United States have committed to a shared vision of a healthy and prosperous Great Lakes region in which the waters of the Great Lakes, through their sound management, use, and enjoyment, provide benefits to present and future generations. To this end, Canada and the United States recognize the importance of taking action, resolving existing environmental issues and anticipating and preventing future problems. 

Through the GLWQA, Canada and the United States, in consultation and cooperation with other levels of government, First Nations and Métis organizations, businesses, non-governmental entities, and the public will develop programs, technologies and other measures necessary to better understand the Great Lakes ecosystem, and to restore and protect water quality and ecosystem health.   

To view specific commitments, objectives and actions to address environmental issues affecting the Lakes, click on the Annex links below:

To learn more about what is new and enhanced under the amended Agreement, click on A Renewed Commitment to Action: The 2012 Agreement.

To learn more about the evolution of this 40-year-old Agreement, click on History and Successes of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.