Water Pollution:

Improved Coordination Needed to Clean Up the Great Lakes

RCED-90-197: Published: Sep 28, 1990. Publicly Released: Nov 1, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the progress of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Great Lakes National Program Office in: (1) defining its role within EPA and involving other EPA offices in implementing a U.S.-Canada agreement about Great Lakes water quality; and (2) coordinating other federal agencies' efforts.

GAO found that the Program Office: (1) expanded its contacts with EPA regional offices and increased its funding for regional projects; (2) worked with the EPA Office of Marine and Estuarine Protection and individual estuary programs to help develop policies and activities affecting the Great Lakes; (3) entered into agreements with the EPA Office of Research and Development to fund a variety of research projects on the Great Lakes; (4) improved its coordination of and cooperation with other federal agencies, resulting in progress in meeting many of the water quality agreement's provisions, although some difficult agreement annexes have been delayed; (5) cited resource limitations, state and local government responsibilities, and EPA regional office responsibilities for its limited role in helping in the development of remedial action plans and lakewide management plans; (6) established the U.S. Policy Committee in 1989 to improve coordination and cooperation among federal and state agencies and environmental groups in implementing the agreement; and (7) projected the Great Lakes' water quality problems would require massive research, cleanup efforts, and financial investments.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: EPA said it is already working with the U.S. Policy Committee and other organizations to assess, identify, and recommend appropriate roles and responsibilities for the Great Lakes National Program Office and others. However, no specific action will be taken to respond to the GAO recommendation.

    Recommendation: To improve interagency coordination in dealing with the pollution problems of the Great Lakes, and in particular to speed progress on the development of remedial action plans and lakewide management plans, the Administrator, EPA, should request that the U.S. Policy Committee assess, identify, and recommend appropriate roles and responsibilities for the Great Lakes National Program Office and other organizations in developing those plans.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

 

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