Lake Ontario St. Lawrence River Plan 2014

Boundary Waters Treaty, Process, and Plan development

Comment Received

IJC Response

Plan 2014 violates Article VIII of the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909, which articulates an order of precedence among three uses:

1). Uses for domestic and sanitary purposes;

2). Uses for navigation, including the service of canals for the purposes of navigation;

3). Uses for power and for irrigation purposes.

Treaty compliance is determined by the U.S. and Canadian governments, and they have concurred with the supplementary order and Plan 2014.

Plan 2014 maintains the order of precedence among the uses named in the treaty. The plan will provide similar benefits as Plan 1958DD for drinking water, sanitation and navigation uses, and it increases hydropower production by a relatively small amount.

The Great Lakes are held in public trust for all citizens of Canada and the United States. Plan 1958DD violates the public trust by damaging the environment.

The IJC finds that the coastal and riverine ecosystems are an interest that existed but was not considered when the 1956 Order and Plan 1958-D were developed. The IJC also finds that Plan 2014 provides the best response to the range of issues that must be considered, including ecosystem impacts.

The IJC should present a balanced plan with no disproportionate damages to any interest.

 The IJC evaluated alternatives for more than 14 years in order to find a plan that strikes an appropriate balance without imposing disproportionate loss on any interest or region. Addressing ecosystem impacts inevitably affects other interests. Plan 2014 helps restore coastal wetlands, while keeping the changes for other interests relatively small compared to the present plan.

Plan 2014 was developed without public involvement.

Plan 2014 was derived from alternatives and evaluation models that were developed with extensive public involvement throughout the five-year Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Study. After the study was completed, the IJC consulted with the public on multiple occasions regarding the refinements of study options, worked to address the comments received and held public hearings on two separate proposals.

The studies are incomplete and out of date. The damage assessments have not been updated since 2005.


The impact assessments and performance indicators were developed by the Study Board in close collaboration with experts and stakeholders, and provide a reliable basis for selecting a regulation plan. The analysis captures the major economic impacts that will result from a change in plans for managing water levels and flows for the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system. The IJC is not aware of any economic developments since the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Study was completed that would change the evaluation used to select Plan 2014.

The National Research Council and Royal Society of Canada stated that the study does not provide an adequate basis for making a decision.

The environmental science that was on the cutting edge during the study has since been peer-reviewed, replicated and become widely accepted. In addition, many issues raised by the NRC/RSC review have been addressed, including the recommendation that an adaptive management strategy be developed to address future uncertainties.

What is the approval process required to implement Plan 2014?


The IJC provided its final conclusions to the Governments of Canada and the United States in 2014 and the governments provided their concurrence in December of 2016.   

Why did the decision process take so long? Plan 2014 should be implemented without further delay.

 The governments thoroughly reviewed all aspects of the IJC’s proposal with an interagency review in each country and then the two governments consulted with each other.


The flows through the Moses- Saunders Dam will be set according to Plan 2014 beginning in January  (2017).