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Great Lakes Program

The Office of the Great Lakes is responsible for the coordination and implementation of the Commonwealth's Great Lakes Program of water quality and watershed-related initiatives, including commitments under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and the Great Lakes-St.Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact and Agreement. This multi-disciplinary,multi-jurisdictional program interacts with Great Lakes states, Canadian provinces, U.S and Canadian federal agencies, and federal/state governments to achieve protection of the largest surface freshwater system on Earth.

The Office of the Great Lakes conducts extensive water quality monitoring of Lake Erie and its tributaries, and coordinates with other state, county, and local government entities, as well as non-governmental organizations, to develop policies and programs that reduce pollutants and support public health.


The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) finalized the Pennsylvania Lake Erie Phosphorus Reduction Domestic Action Plan (DAP) to assist in the elimination of nutrient pollution in Lake Erie.

Pennsylvania is one of eight United States (U.S.) state governments with coastline and contributing tributaries to the Great Lakes, and one of five states that shares 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 shared between the countries. The U.S. states and Canadian provinces fully participate in this process to assure cooperative restoration success.

The GLWQA was amended and reaffirmed in 2012 to include a process to develop new phosphorus reduction targets for Lake Erie, which were adopted formally by the Parties in February 2016, 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. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is developing the U.S. DAP that will coordinate and integrate each U.S. state-written DAP. The U.S. DAP also will include those actions to be completed by each U.S. federal agency with programs that affect Lake Erie water quality. The U.S. and Canada are bound by the GLWQA to complete these plans by February 2018, and the DAPs will be included as components of the Lake Erie Lakewide Action and Management Plan (LAMP) to be completed by the end of 2018.

The final Pennsylvania Lake Erie Phosphorus Reduction DAP is available here: Final Pennsylvania Lake Erie Phosphorus Reduction Domestic Action Plan (PDF)

Other Topics:

Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement

Great Lakes Withdrawal, Consumptive Use, and Diversion Baseline