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December 15, 2006
Mayors chart course for Great Lakes and St. Lawrence
Mayors from across the United States and Canada in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Basin are charting a course for the future of this resource to enhance the quality of life and economic well being of their citizens. Meeting in Toronto on December 15, the Board of Directors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative launched a number of efforts for 2007 to advance the restoration agenda.

Chair David Miller, Mayor of Toronto, said, “Cites are at the heart of providing essential services to citizens, and there is nothing more fundamental than clean water. People want to drink the water, eat the fish, and swim at the beaches without concern for the health of their children and themselves.” The central features of the Cities Initiative agenda are water quality, water conservation, and waterfront vitality.

Founding Chair Richard M. Daley, Mayor of Chicago, said, “Cities have shown the ability and the will to be leaders in protecting our water resources. In the coming year we will continue to demonstrate innovative approaches to conserving water, managing stormwater, and protecting water quality.” Measures such as repairing aging infrastructure, eliminating wasteful practices, encouraging more efficient products, and educating the public will all be part of a municipal water conservation framework that was advanced at the meeting.

According to Mayor Gary Becker of Racine, Vice Chair of the organization, “Beaches are one of the most valuable assets in our cities, as they provide a place for relaxation and enjoyment for all of our citizens. We need to make sure that sources contaminating our beaches are found and eliminated, and that there are reliable standards and test methods available to know when the water is safe and when it is not.” The Cities Initiative is exploring ways to help accelerate the process of setting new standards and test methods in both Canada and the United States.

Mayors are seeking a much more active role in ongoing discussions at the state, provincial, federal, and international level to make sure that the local perspective is part of the policy for the resource in the future. The Cities Initiative is actively engaged in the review and potential renegotiation of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between the United States and Canada. The Canada Ontario Agreement on the Great Lakes.

expires in March of 2007, and the cities have already participated in preliminary discussions about a new agreement. In the United States, mayors were key players in the development of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy, which was released in December 2005, and are working with the federal, state, and tribal governments on implementation. Also, in Quebec, cities are working with the Province and Federal governments on the St. Lawrence Plan. Collectively, these agreements are the blueprint for the future of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence, and the cities will play a major role in making sure the plans become reality.

Priority concerns for the cities include water and wastewater infrastructure, invasive species, toxic contamination, and habitat protection. The cities will be working with their counterparts at the federal, state, provincial, and tribal levels to advance the efforts to solve these problems.

Media contacts:
Don Wanagas
Office of Mayor David Miller

David Ullrich
Executive Director
Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative



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