The Only Things Certain in Life…

By Cameron Davis

Every year around April 15, we’re all bound to hear too many times the old saying that there are only two things certain in life: death and taxes. Now we can add a third thing that’s certain about life…the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

It was signed 40 years ago on April 15. So maybe this year April 15 should be known as “Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement Day.”

The U.S. and Canadian governments are wrapping up their inter-agency reviews and are pushing to finalize the Agreement this spring. The new version will be more prevention oriented; building from older versions of the pact that focused more on cleaning up past problems (the updated Agreement will retain commitments for remediation, too, especially for Areas of Concern). The next generation of the Agreement will be more streamlined and user-friendly. It’ll have stronger commitments to tackle nutrients that are choking aquatic life and local economies in Lake Erie and other “priority watersheds.” It’ll have new commitments on climate change impacts, call for a net gain in habitat and face down invasive species. The stronger focus on prevention will be especially important with pest species that undermine the ecology and economy of the Lakes.

Check out footage of the original 1972 Agreement being signed (amidst Vietnam War protests outside), courtesy of colleague and Canadian negotiator, Mike Goffin of Environment Canada.

So, come this April 15, let’s not think of it as Tax Day. Let’s think of it as Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement Day.

PS: And, it doesn’t hurt that this year, federal taxes are actually due Tuesday, April 17…

To find out more about our Great Lakes restoration efforts, visit , or follow me on Twitter (CameronDavisEPA).

About the author: Cameron Davis is Senior Advisor to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. He provides counsel on Great Lakes matters, including the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

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