By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership
On Tuesday and Thursday, September 19-20, the city of Duluth hosted the annual meeting of the Great Lakes Commission (GLC), an interstate compact dedicated to discussing and implementing good public policy for water, land, and economic prosperity in the Great Lakes region. Members from eight states as well as Ontario and Quebec visited the Twin Ports, where they elected John Linc Stine, commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, as the GLC’s new chairman. Staff from MEP attended to learn from Great Lakes experts and offer input on pressing problems facing the region, and had the opportunity to view restoration projects that have already been accomplished in Duluth’s harbor.
The Commission’s most critical accomplishment was agreeing on an action plan to tackle the water infrastructure problems facing Great Lakes communities today. States around the basin are in need of drinking- and wastewater infrastructure upgrades that meet the needs of this century and prevent further pollution of these critical waters. These are issues that no city or state can address alone: the Commission will have to work with local stakeholders, federal agencies, and programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to move these projects forward.
Fortunately, Duluth provided an excellent opportunity for policymakers to learn. Native American leaders from the Fond du Lac Band and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission spoke about tribal sovereignty, engaging with indigenous communities, and the importance of wild rice as a critical resource for Great Lakes tribes. By listening to tribal, state, and local concerns in tackling the environmental challenges that face the Great Lakes, the GLC has an opportunity to build a cleaner and more equitable future for all of us who depend on these precious waters.
For more information on the GLC and Great Lakes issues, check out the 2017 Annual Meeting Briefing Book – the critical Joint Action Plan on clean water infrastructure can be found starting on page 38.