Niagara Gazette

Local News

June 13, 2009

BOUNDARY WATERS: Clinton joins treaty celebration at the Rainbow Bridge

The celebration of a historic boundary waters agreement between the United States and Canada received a high-profile visitor on Saturday.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took part in an event on the Rainbow Bridge to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Boundary Waters Treaty.

During the ceremony, Clinton and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon announced plans for the two countries to renegotiate the Great Lakes Quality Agreement, a pact signed by both countries in 1972.

Both Clinton and Cannon agreed the United States and Canada should work together to strengthen the Great Lakes agreement by updating it to reflect new concerns, including climate change and invasive species. The deal was last updated in 1987 and environmentalists have been pushing for it to be revised in light of new threats to the Great Lakes.

“The Great Lakes-St. River system is a treasure,” Clinton said. “It contains one-fifth of the world’s fresh surface water. It provides millions of people with safe drinking water every day. So it’s crucial that we honor the terms of the Great Lakes Agreement as it stands today, but we also have to update it to reflect new knowledge, new technology and, unfortunately, new threats.”

Clinton’s visit, her first to Western New York since she resigned her U.S. Senate seat to join President Obama’s administration, comes as both countries are celebrating the 1909 signing of the Boundary Waters Treaty, which is commonly regarded as the world’s first environmental treaty and a model of bi-national governance. The treaty created the Independent Joint Commission, which consists of U.S. and Canadian appointees who work to prevent and resolve boundary waters disputes between the two countries. It covers lakes, rivers, estuaries and inlets comprising 40 percent of the 5,500-mile international border between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

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