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ARCHIVED - Government Response to Proposed COA

III - Areas of Concern Annex

Describing and Prioritizing Work in Areas of Concern (AOC): A number of comments were received asking for, more detail of work to be undertaken, and a rationale for Goal 1 versus Goal 2 AOCs.

Response: Each Area of Concern presents a unique set of challenges that must be addressed to restore ecosystem health. The four Areas of Concern identified in Goal 1 are those that have been determined will complete all required actions to restore ecosystem quality within the timeframe of the Agreement.

Completing priority actions in these four AOCs will allow monitoring to determine if beneficial uses of the ecosystem have been fully restored, permitting delisting of the AOC.

Work will continue to restore beneficial uses of the ecosystem in other AOCs. However, owing to the nature of the challenges in these AOCs, all necessary actions required for ecosystem restoration will not be completed during the timeframe of the Agreement.

More detailed information about the state of each AOC and remaining work necessary to restore impaired beneficial uses of the ecosystem can be accessed through Environment Canada website.

Areas of Concern Delisting Requirements: A number of comments received asked for clarification of the delisting requirements for AOCs. There was also a comment regarding recognition that the Toronto and Region Area of Concern faces different pressures, such as urbanization and population growth.

Response:Areas of Concern (AOCs) are defined and evaluated in relation to 14 beneficial uses identified in the Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Delisting criteria to determine at what point a beneficial use is deemed to be restored are developed for each Area of Concern recognizing their unique circumstances.

The Remedial Action Plan program is designed to restore beneficial uses which were impaired in AOCs due to the legacy of past practices. New pressures in AOCs will require strategies and actions that go beyond the RAP program and the need for mechanisms to be established to deal with future or ongoing issues is recognized in commitments 1.5.b, 1.5.c.

It is recognized that urbanization and population growth pressures are impacting a number of AOCs.

Working beyond AOC boundaries: A number of comments suggested that work in Annex 1 should look beyond Areas of Concern.

Response: The Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement contains a specific commitment to restore ecosystem health in Great Lakes Areas of Concern. Meeting this commitment is the focus of Annex 1. Work beyond the boundaries of the Areas of Concern is contained in Annexes 2, 3, and 4.

References to Aboriginal communities: A comment asked for clarification around the decision to only reference the Aboriginal communities in the St. Clair River, Bay of Quinte, and St. Lawrence River - Cornwall AOCs.

Response: AOCs are currently engaged in the Remedial Action Plans for those areas. This does not preclude collaboration with other interested Aboriginal communities in similar environmental restoration and protection activities under COA in other locations.

The Parties will continue to work to collaborate with Aboriginal communities where they are situated in AOCs, the lakewide programs and other aspects of COA.

Infrastructure: A number of commenters requested more detailed information on the commitments to support infrastructure, including investments to eliminate combined sewer overflows in Areas of Concern.

Response: The Parties will continue to identify and promote priority infrastructure actions and provide technical and/or financial assistance to municipalities to: research, develop cost-effective approaches and technologies; conduct combined sewer overflow and stormwater pollution prevent and control planning studies, and; develop pre-implementation studies to meet infrastructure funding requirements.

Canada agrees that investments that support the delisting of Areas of Concern and improve the water quality of the Great Lakes will continue to be among the priorities for federal infrastructure funding programs.

Bay Area Restoration Council: A comment was received to add the Bay Area Restoration Council, in addition to the Bay Area Implementation Team, to Commitment 1-2.5a.

Response: It is recognized that the Bay Area Restoration Council undertakes important work in restoring and protecting Hamilton Harbour, as a member of the Bay Area Implementation Team. Support will continue to be provided to the Council for specific projects which are Remedial Action Plan priorities.

Point and non-point sources of pollution: A comment was received that point and non-point sources of pollution in Annex 1 and 3 should include urban sources and not be limited to rural areas.

Response: Annex 1 and 3 commitments addressing point and non-point sources of pollution pertain to both rural and urban areas.

Nutrients: A comment was received indicating that it is not clearly distinguished that nutrients in themselves are not a "contaminant" but can be beneficial. The issue that needs to be addressed is the excessive amounts of nutrients introduced to the environment.

Response: It is proposed that the actions to be taken under COA be clarified to be specific to excessive amounts of nutrients.

Contaminated Sediment Management Process:The importance of open stakeholder involvement in contaminated sediment management processes was highlighted.

Response: The Remedial Action Plan process in each Area of Concern assures extensive stakeholder engagement in all facets of the remediation process from problem identification, through selection of preferred option for remediation, to assessment of results. This process is applied to all Remedial Action Plan projects including sediment remediation projects.

Stakeholder involvement is an essential requirement in making decisions on sediment management and the development of sediment management strategies referenced in Annex 1, Result 2.3.

Implementation of Contaminated Sediment Strategies: A comment received supported further implementation of contaminated sediment strategies in AOCs, such as the Randle Reef site in Hamilton Harbour.

Response: COA commits to making progress on developing and implementing contaminated sediment management strategies in Areas of Concern (Annex 1, Result 1.3 and 2.3). Budget 2007 contributes to meeting Canada's COA commitments with $11 million over the next two years to accelerate the clean up of contaminated sediment that poses a risk to human health and ecosystems in 8 AOCs: Hamilton Harbour, Niagara River, Detroit River, St. Mary's River, Thunder Bay, Peninsula Harbour, St. Clair River and Bay of Quinte.

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