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IJC endorses interim phosphorus targets for Lake of the Woods

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Following a presentation from the International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board in Washington D.C., the International Joint Commission endorsed and submitted the board's recommendations for immediate interim phosphorus reductions in Lake of the Woods to the governments of Canada and the United States.

The board reported that information presented at the recent 2018 Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Forum indicated that, in effect, Minnesota is on track to creating an overall phosphorus load reduction target of roughly 18.4 percent, with specific source targets soon to be released for public consultation and finalization.

Information also presented at the forum provided supporting evidence there are substantial sources of phosphorus loads from Canada.

Specifically, the board recommended that:

  • the governments of Canada, Ontario, and Manitoba commit to an 18.4 percent reduction in phosphorus loads to Lake of the Woods as an interim measure at this time;
  • the governments of Canada and the U.S. work together to establish a shared binational phosphorus substance objective and load reduction targets for this important shared binational water body; and
  • the governments of Canada and the U.S. commit to regularly reviewing and revising this shared binational objective and targets as further science becomes available, with a first review as soon as possible after Environment and Climate Change Canada completes its current scientific assessment of Lake of the Woods in 2020.

The IJC noted in writing the governments that it “endorses these board recommendations and considers them to be extremely important to the overall goal of reducing phosphorus loading, and the associated harmful algal blooms, in the Rainy-Lake of the Woods basin.”

It recognizes that scientific work is being undertaken by Environment and Climate Change Canada that may inform future efforts to reduce phosphorus loading.

But the IJC does not believe the two federal governments, or provincial or state governments, need to wait for this scientific work to be completed before committing to an interim target for a reduction in phosphorus loading in the basin.

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