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Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement

Pennsylvania is one of eight United States state governments and two Canadian provinces with coastline and contributing tributaries to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin, and one of five states and one province that share jurisdictional responsibilities for water quality in the Lake Erie Basin. In 1972, the U.S. and Canada signed the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) to provide a framework for the restoration, protection, and management of the Great Lakes water resources common between the countries.

The Agreement has been amended and updated throughout the decades, most recently in 2012, to better address the challenges faced by the Great Lakes Basin. The U.S. states and Canadian provinces participate fully in this process to assure cooperative restoration success, and Pennsylvania engages with the GLWQA subcommittees and work groups. Citizens are encouraged to visit the GLWQA webpage to learn more about the binational agreement at

GLWQA Topics of Pennsylvania Focus

Lakewide Management: The 2012 Amendments to the GLWQA included a process to assess the status of each Great Lake and address the environmental stressors that adversely affect the Waters of the Great Lakes which are best addressed on a lakewide scale through an ecosystem approach.

Nutrients: The 2012 Amendments to the GLWQA included a process to develop new phosphorus reduction targets for Lake Erie to address over-nutrification problems identified within the lake and develop U.S and Canadian Domestic Action Plans (DAP) for phosphorus reductions in each country. These reduction targets were developed by the Annex 4 Nutrients Subcommittee and adopted formally by the Parties in February 2016.

The Pennsylvania Lake Erie Phosphorus Reduction DAP was completed in September 2017 and integrated with the other Lake Erie state DAPs into the final U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2018-2023 U.S. Action Plan for Lake Erie that includes those actions to be completed by each U.S. federal agency with programs that affect Lake Erie water quality. Components of the U.S. Action Plan for Lake Erie will be included in the Lake Erie Lakewide Action and Management Plan (LAMP).

The final Pennsylvania Lake Erie Phosphorus Reduction DAP is available here.