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Agreement to Protect Great Lakes Signed by Canada, U.S.

The U.S. and Canada signed an accord to protect the Great Lakes, agreeing to curb pollutants and limit the infestation of invasive species.

The agreement, signed in Washington today by the top environmental officials of each country, updates pledges between the two nations first made in 1972 to protect the world’s largest freshwater system.

“Protecting cherished water bodies like the Great Lakes is not only about environmental conservation,” Lisa Jackson, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said in a statement. “It’s also about protecting the health of the families -- and the economies -- of the local communities that depend on those water bodies for so much, every day.”

The new provisions set goals for each country to address aquatic invasive species such as the Asian carp; curb phosphorus run-off, which can contribute to algae blooms; and cut toxic chemicals pollution from industry and vessels. Each nation will now need to come up with the financing and policies to implement their “common objectives,” according to the agreement.

The Great Lakes -- Erie, Huron, Michigan, Superior and Ontario -- account for 80 percent of the lake and river water in North America, draining a basin that covers 295,700 square miles (766,000 square kilometers), according to a joint government report on the region.

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