Celebrating a Landmark Agreement
Twenty-five years ago, Toledo was the site of a landmark environmental agreement affecting the entire Great Lakes region in the U.S. and Canada. The 1987 signing of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement mobilized plans to improve aquatic environment in the region.
Specifically, the agreement identified 43 Great Lakes Areas of Concern, mostly urban and industrial locations at river mouths, on connecting channels, and along shorelines. After the agreement was finalized, local grassroots and community-based efforts created organizations known as Remedial Action Plans (RAPs). The RAPs are recognized by federal and state agencies and Canadian provinces. The goal of all Remedial Action Plans is to restore identified sites to fishable, swimmable, and drinkable condition. In northwest Ohio, the Maumee RAP has been at work since 1987 and can point to real improvement in our Area of Concern: addressing habitat loss, contaminated sediments, and wastewater treatment among other issues. Partners involved in the Maumee RAP created the Maumee Watershed Action Plan, a comprehensive study of the watershed that includes plans for remediation. The Maumee RAP is supported by TMACOG, Ohio EPA, U.S. EPA, City of Toledo, Lucas County, and Partners for Clean Streams (PCS). Many other groups are partners including federal and state agencies and organizations of concerned citizens. PCS is the local non-profit the Maumee RAP joined in 2007. Before that, the RAP had been housed at TMACOG. Kurt Erichsen, TMACOG’s vice president of Environmental Planning, reflects that “In 1987 when the early RAP committee put together its first report, we were overwhelmed by the environmental challenges we faced. However, local governments, businesses, and citizens worked together, and our cleaner water shows the results. The Ottawa River especially has been a success story.”
A plaque will be installed on the Maumee waterfront to mark the anniversary of the agreement and demonstrate its significance for future generations. Maumee RAP partners hope that the sign demonstrates that the spirit that inspired the agreement 25 years ago continues to inspire community efforts here in the Maumee and in other Areas of Concern around the Great Lakes.