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ARCHIVED - Proposed Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem

Annex 4 - Coordination of Monitoring, Research and Information

  1. Preamble
  2. Goals
  3. Results
  4. Definitions

I Preamble

To achieve the Agreement's vision of a healthy, prosperous and sustainable Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem, it is necessary that the Great Lakes community has access to accurate information regarding trends in environmental quality.

Monitoring and research help to detect and characterize current and emerging issues in the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem, and provide the understanding to guide adaptive, scientifically-supported management actions. Monitoring and research activities should be coordinated across the basin in order to ensure the comprehensive base of information is collected and captured over varying time scales and geographic coverage to improve consistency and continuity.

Binational jurisdictions, agencies, organizations and individuals routinely collect and analyze data to report on the state of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem. Therefore, data and information must be made readily available to resource managers, decision-makers and the public in a consistent manner, to ensure that decisions are based on the best available data. Standards for metadata (information about data) and interoperability of data must be adhered to, to improve discovery and access.

These activities are all prerequisites for sound decision-making in the Great Lakes Basin and for reporting meaningfully on the progress made in achieving environmental objectives and defining appropriate actions.

II Goals

The Parties have identified two goals that will ensure coordinated monitoring and research are conducted and that the Great Lakes community has access to accurate information regarding trends in environmental quality:

  1. Undertake coordinated and efficient federal/provincial scientific monitoring and research; and

  2. Continue to improve the discovery and sharing of data, information and trends in the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem.

III Results

Result 1 - Responsive and comprehensive monitoring and research programs

Canada and Ontario will:
  1. Coordinate monitoring and research of federal and provincial agencies as well as local communities in support of Annex 1 to track progress towards the recovery of beneficial uses and achievement of delisting targets in AOCs;

  2. Coordinate federal and provincial monitoring and research in support of Annex 2 to determine trends, impacts and sources of harmful pollutants;

  3. Coordinate federal and provincial monitoring and research in support of Annex 3 to optimize programs and address priorities in the near-shore zones, coastal areas, open waters and tributaries;

  4. Link Canadian Great Lakes research and monitoring with work being undertaken by other jurisdictions to improve efficiency and effectiveness of programs and to set priorities for future work; and

  5. Establish a Canada-Ontario water quality and aquatic ecosystem health issue team to coordinate activities.

Result 2 - Improved reporting on environmental conditions, changes and progress

Canada and Ontario will:
  1. Adopt meaningful indicators for reporting trends in ecosystem health and water quality; and

  2. Report by March 31, 2010 on the status and trends in water quality and aquatic ecosystem health in the Great Lakes Basin.

Result 3 - Increased sharing of data and information among governments, organizations and Basin residents

Canada and Ontario will:
  1. Implement best management practices for information management of work conducted under the Agreement and commit to follow the protocols of the Canadian Geospatial Data infrastructure and the Land Information Ontario, where applicable;

  2. Establish internet-based mechanisms to facilitate access to and sharing of data and information through recognized standards and specifications, such as web mapping and web data services;

  3. Promote and maintain a web-based inventory (Binational Executive Committee Monitoring Inventory) of on-going monitoring programs and activities and track their status;

  4. Better utilize existing monitoring data to identify progress in environmental conditions, trends and emerging issues by reporting on indicators such as SOLEC and LaMP indicators using Lake Views;

  5. Ensure compatibility and interoperability with current federal and provincial information management standards and systems; and

  6. Provide targeted technical advice to the Great Lakes community to develop common geospatial applications and share federal and provincial data sets, studies and expertise in environmental monitoring and research.

IV Definitions

Binational Executive Committee (BEC) Monitoring Inventory
The BEC Monitoring Inventory is a web-based searchable inventory of Canadian and U.S. monitoring programs. The purpose of the inventory is to raise awareness of ongoing activities and to further promote collaboration and coordination of monitoring in the Great Lakes. (Available at

Indicators, including physical, biological and chemical measurements, are variables selected to supply information about the presence or state of conditions or trends.

The ability of two or more hardware devices, or two or more software routines, to work together.

Geospatial data and applications refer to collections of information that can be mapped, or located and have relationship to time and space. Users can utilize computer applications to explore, analyze and gather details about the characteristics of a data set and reveal how it interrelates with other data sets. Geospatial data and applications can be used to plan and predict by extrapolating trends and postulating changes.

Lake Views
Lake Views is an internet based application, which dynamically retrieves information from distributed sources through the use of standardized internet mapping and web service technologies, serves as a discovery, access, and visualization for information regarding trends in environmental quality.

Information about data. Metadata describe when and by whom a particular set of data was collected, and how the data are formatted. Metadata are essential for understanding information stored in data warehouses.

State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference. The SOLEC binational conference, hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada on behalf of the two Countries every two years, is intended to provide a forum for exchange of information and report on the state of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem using a suite of indicators.

Standards specify a technological area with a well-defined scope by a formal standardization body and process.

Protocols are established to provide guidelines for use in various circumstances, such as data collection, manipulation, storage and maintenance.

web data services
A collection of operations, accessible through one or more interfaces, is delivered by a server or multiple servers that allows users to access and retrieve data remotely.

web mapping services
Web Mapping Service is a sub-set of the suite of internet-based services that allows users to display maps and/or images with a geographic component and whose raw spatial data files reside on one of more remote servers. Additional web feature and coverage services allow for advance data querying, retrieval and rendering operations.
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