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Cited as an international model for how two or more countries can work together for the common good of a shared resource, Canada and the United States established the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement in 1972. Since then, the agreement has driven important public health and water quality improvements for Great Lakes residents, such as phosphorus reductions and cuts in toxic pollution. Today, experts point to the agreement as critical in calling for the "zero discharge" of toxic pollutants that harm people, fish and wildlife.
In an effort to clean up the most polluted areas in the Great Lakes, the United States and Canada amended the agreement in 1987, committing both countries to cooperate with state and provincial governments to ensure that Remedial Action Plans (RAPs) are developed and implemented for 43 designated Areas of Concern within the Great Lakes basin. The amendment defines these AOCs as "severely degraded geographic areas within the Great Lakes Basin," where use of the water is likely to be impaired, as is the water's ability to support aquatic life.
In September 2012, the U.S. and Canada agreed to update the accord. The Alliance and other organzations were deeply involved in suggesting improvements for the new agreement, titled the Great Lakes Water Quality Protocol of 2012.
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