The United States and Canada decided Saturday to update a key agreement that protects the Great Lakes from invasive species, climate change and other threats to the fresh water system, Associated Press reported.
In a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, together with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, said the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, which was last amended in 1987, was no longer adequate.
“[The treaty] is a living instrument of our cooperation and partnership,” Clinton said during a press conference. “It has provided an effective framework for the last 100 years, but now we have to take stock of where we are and how we’re going to be proceeding with confidence and effectiveness into the future.”
The agreement pledges the United States and Canada to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Great Lakes Basin ecosystem. Since its signing in 1972, levels of pollutants have dropped, and species like the bald eagle have made a comeback.
However, many environmental groups and provincial and state governments have worried in recent years that the effort has lost momentum in lieu of growing populations, climate change and new chemical threats.
“Today the Great Lakes face a number of new challenges, and as a result we are taking new steps to protect them,” Cannon said. “We will work together to make sure that citizens of both countries have access to safe, clean, healthy water.”