Reports and Publications
- Fertilizer Application Patterns and Trends and Their Implications for Water Quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin - January 2018
- First Triennial Assessment of Progress on Great Lakes Water Quality (TAP)- November 2017
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- Minority Opinions in the Matter of the Application of Rainy River Improvement Company for Approval of Plans for Dam at Kettle Falls
International Joint Commission - Commission mixte internationale1913/01/01These statements record the opinions of Canadian IJC Chairmen H.A. Powell and C.A. Magrath in the matter of the joint application of the Rainy River Improvement Company and Ontario & Minnesota Power Co., both effectively owned by E.W. Backus, to the U.S. and Canadian governments respectively, to construct a dam on Kettle River at Kettle Falls, at Namakan Lake’s outlet for power and navigation benefits. The complete dam would to flood out the rapids at the mouth of Rainy Lake, equalize Rainy River water flow, and prevent natural low-water stages. The U.S. authorized the project in February 1911; Canada eventually approved it as well, on conditions that have not yet been fulfilled. Canadian Chairman Casgrain and the U.S. Commissioners argue the dam applies not under Article III, as filed by the Applicants, but rather Article IX. The proposed dam does not respect the “use, obstruction, or diversion” of boundary waters on one side that would affect “the natural level and flow” on the other; instead, the dam would obstruct the whole river, affecting both sides at once. Being in the majority, the IJC issues an Order dismissing the application on the grounds that it lies squarely in federal government jurisdiction, not the IJC’s. Powell and Magrath strongly disagree with this outcome. A dam extending across an international stream, such as the one proposed, is indeed an obstruction which on either side of the boundary affects the natural level or flow on the other. It therefore applies under Article III, provided it is not being built under a “special agreement between the parties,” i.e. the High Contracting Parties (Canada and the U.S.). Magrath analyzes the definition of “special agreement” in BWT Article XIII. The industrial venture at stake is a “mutual arrangement” between two parties (corporations), authorized by Canada and the U.S. in identical legislation, not as the result of a “direct agreement” (i.e. binational treaty) or mutual arrangement between the two countries. Mr. Thompson (Government of Canada) too maintains that the Commission has jurisdiction on this case, hence Canada’s delay in decision until it could be advised by the IJC. The Governments wouldn’t have referred the application to the IJC if they had made a direct mutual agreement precluding and overriding IJC involvement. The Boundary Waters Treaty (BWT) was created to facilitate the management of boundary waters of Canada and the U.S., which can only be accomplished by a tribunal common to both, that is the IJC. Therefore, the Applicants require IJC approval for their project. The project must be considered in tandem with questions regarding the water levels and uses in Lake of the Woods watershed, which the Governments also referred to the Commission. Further consideration of the Backus application should be postponed until that Reference is thoroughly investigated.
- In the Matter of the Application of the Watrous Island Boom Co. for Approval of Plans for Boom in Rainy River-Decision and Order of Approval
International Joint Commission - Commission mixte internationale1913/01/01Watrous Island Boom Co. (E.W. Backus, President), incorporated in Minnesota in 1910, provides log driving services to lumbering operations, and charges tolls upon timber driven on Rainy River and its tributaries, where it purports to clear and straighten channels, close sloughs, and manage sluiceways, booms, and dams. In January 1912, the U.S. Corps of Engineers convenes an informal hearing (p. 19ff) at St. Paul with Watrous Island Boom Co., Backus-Brooks Lumber Co., Shevlin-Mathieu Lumber Co., and the Rat Portage Lumber Co. to discuss the Watrous Co.’s plans to construct and operate (a) new boom(s) in Rainy River between the mouths of Little Fork River and Black River, for storing, handling, sorting, and loading of forest products. Such works are required by the lumber, pulp and paper manufacturing industry, the principal industry in the district on both sides of the border. The Corps of Engineers makes several suggestions to address objections against the project, including a requisite additional boom between Little and Big Fork Rivers on Rainy River for holding all timber exiting Little Fork River, plus sorting works of sufficient capacity for all downstream mills. In April 1912, Watrous Island Boom Co. files application (enclosed) and submits plans to Governments and the IJC, requesting approval for booms as discussed. That same month, following several indorsements (sic), the U.S. Secretary of War issues a permit for the works, subject to certain conditions. The Rainy River Navigation Company and Western Canal Co. file protests in April and May 1912 against the Watrous proposals, claiming they disregard preexisting navigation and power rights. The Government of Canada withholds approval. Officials, Commissioners, and representatives of several interested companies survey the booms’ proposed location in an inspection tour of Rainy River in May 1912. At a hearing on the matter in Washington in November 1912, Mr. John Thompson (Government of Canada) speaks and files a statement objecting that the plans filed with the application are inaccurate; that jurisdiction is unclear because the international boundary has not yet been settled; that river soundings are incomplete, therefore it is uncertain where the boom should be placed in consideration of navigation; that the boom is in some places constructed so as to leave no turning room for steamers; and that the proposed dredging will alter water levels. In April 1913 the Commission orders Mr. Tawney and Mr. Casgrain to take testimony and report on outstanding questions regarding the proposal. Further hearings are held at Washington in April 1913 and International Falls in May 1913 (transcripts included, p. 36ff). The Commission’s September 1913 Decision and Order of Approval (p. 3ff) adopts the conclusions and recommendations of Tawney and Casgrain’s report (May 1913, enclosed, p. 81ff). The Order is contingent upon the following conditions that certain cribs and pile clusters be removed and redriven nearer to the River’s south (Minnesota) shore, and that a channel of specified dimensions and location be dredged within six months of the Order, and maintained for the project’s lifespan. The Departments of Public Works (Canada) and War (U.S) will direct and supervise adherence to these conditions and modifications. Plan showing proposed booms attached.
- Hearings and Arguments in the Matter of the Rainy River Improvement Co. for Approval of Plans for a Dam at Kettle Falls
International Joint Commission1912/04/12
The Rainy River Improvement Company (incorporated 1904, Articles enclosed) filed an application (enclosed) in February 1912 with the IJC for approval to construct and operate a dam on Kettle River at Kettle Falls, at the outlet of Lake Namakan. The U.S. government had endorsed the project the previous year. The Ontario & Minnesota Power Co. (not represented at the hearings) concurrently seeks Canadian approval for a Kettle Falls dam on the Canadian side to join with the portion to be constructed by Rainy River Improvement Co on the American side. E.W. Backus owns both companies. In 1905 Backus and associates had purchased water power lots from the Ontario Commissioner of Crown Lands, and secured the right to develop hydraulic and electric power subject to conditions imposed by the provincial and federal government. The proposed dam, plans for which were modified several times, will serve to maintain Rainy Lake levels three feet or more above the low water level, flood out the rapids at the mouth of Rainy Lake, equalize Rainy River’s flow, prevent the water from falling to its natural low-water stage, supply the public and particularly the village of International Falls with water and electric light, to create (a) canal(s) for navigation to connect Rainy, Kabetogama, and Namakan Lakes, and to facilitate log driving in the watershed. IJC Commissioners met in April 1912 in Washington to discuss the application (transcript p. 13ff.). Later they met with representatives of the Canadian Government, the Ontario Government, Rainy River Improvement Co. and several other district lumber companies in October 1912 in Ottawa (p. 26ff.), and a month later again in Washington (p. 52ff.). They debate the IJC’s jurisdiction over the application according to the Boundary Waters Treaty. Canadian Chair Casgrain and the U.S. Commissioners argue the application was filed under the wrong Article (III instead of IX), that in this case the federal governments have exclusive authority. Powell and Magrath disagree: a dam extending across an international stream, such as the one proposed, is an obstruction which on either side of the boundary affects the natural level or flow on the other. It therefore applies under Article III, provided it is not being built under a “special agreement between the parties,” i.e. Canada and the U.S. (entailing discussion of BWT’s Article XIII). The Government of Canada maintains that the Commission has jurisdiction on this case, and withholds approval. Decision on the proposal must occur in tandem with the investigation into water levels and uses in Lake of the Woods watershed, which the Governments also referred to the Commission. The document encloses copies of Order in Councils, Acts, letters patent, extracts from Privy Council reports, and other legal instruments.
- Watching Over our Transboundary Environment from Coast to Coast
International Joint Commission0201/09/01
- Report of the IJC Canada and U.S. on the Pollution of the Red River
International Joint Commission - Commission mixte internationaleIn October 1964 the Governments of Canada and the U.S. issued a Reference to the IJC to determine whether the Red River’s waters were being polluted on either side of the international boundary to an extent causing or likely to cause injury to health or property on the other side. The IJC created the International Red River Pollution Board, comprised of agency scientists from the five jurisdictions concerned. The Board collected and analyzed water quality data for the Red River near the international boundary, producing four semi-annual reports and its final report in October 1967. The U.S. Public Health Service and the Board conducted separate surveys on the effects of municipal and industrial wastes on the chemical, biological, and bacterial water quality of the River under three distinct types of pollution loading. The Commission itself inspected the Red River from Lake Winnipeg to Fargo in November 1966, examining waste treatment facilities. This report summarizes findings on flow, temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, bottom dissolved oxygen, salinity, alkalinity, conductivity, hardness, coliforms, suspended solids, chlorides, and sulphates. It reviews the geography, hydrology, economy, and water usages of the study area. At public hearings at Grand Forks (ND) and Winnipeg in December 1967, no one expressed dissent or wished to supplement the Board’s and IJC’s conclusion: that during the survey period, the waters crossing the boundary were not polluted such as to cause injury to health or property in Canada. If the water quality standards established by Minnesota and North Dakota legislation (attached) are adhered to, injury from pollution will be unlikely to occur. The Commission recommends that the water quality objectives for the Red River at the international boundary as specified be accepted by the two Governments as criteria to be met in maintaining these shared waters in a satisfactory condition, as envisioned in Article IV of the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909. The General Objective is for water at the Red River boundary, after treatment by conventional purification processes, to be safe for human consumption; not cause property damage; be suitable for boating and fishing; permit the propagation and life of native fish species native under natural conditions; permit use for industrial cooling without a high degree of treatment; permit use by livestock and wildlife without inhibition nor injurious effects; and permit use for irrigation without adverse effects upon crops or vegetation. Specific Objectives are set for coliform organisms, dissolved oxygen, nutrients and sugars; more will follow for toxic wastes, salinity, pH, phenols, oils, floating solids, colour, turbidity, and odour. The States of Minnesota and North Dakota should recognize these Objectives in the administration of their own standards and pollution abatement programs. The Commission asks that it be authorized to maintain continuous supervision over water quality in the Red River, and to recommend amendments or additions to the Specific Objectives. The Commission wishes to establish an international board to perform these supervisory functions, to keep the Commission appropriately informed, and to facilitate coordination of controlled releases from waste stabilization ponds or lagoons. Should the objectives not be met, the Commission will notify government.
- Management Information Base and Overview Modelling
International Reference Group on Great Lakes Pollution from Land Use ActivitiesThe Pollution from Land Use Activities Reference Group (PLUARG) was tasked with studying pollution in the Great Lakes region caused by land use activities. This report uses the concept of overview modeling to study pollutant outputs in Lakes Huron, Erie and Ontario, focusing on total phosphorous and suspended solids. Overview modeling is used as a means of comparing present and future trends in pollutant outputs in these lakes and for measuring the effectiveness of remedial programs applied to municipal point sources, urban nonpoint sources, and rural nonpoint sources of pollution. Based on the pollution reduction guidelines outlined by PLUARG, this report analyses the costs associated with achieving these goals in the three lakes mentioned above. The most cost-effective remedial program according to the overview modeling analysis is the removal of total phosphorous from municipal point sources; the cost per metric ton of reductions in lake loads ranges from $7500 to $12,000 per year. In comparison, the removal of phosphorous from urban nonpoint sources would cost $80,000 to $100,000 annually per metric ton for first-level programs, and $150,000 annually per metric ton for second-level programs.
- International Working Group on the Abatement and Control of Pollution from Dredging Activities
International Working Group on the Abatement & Control of Pollution From DredgingShortly after the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement was signed, the Working Group on Dredging was established (members listed) to develop criteria for polluted dredged material and to recommend programs for open water disposal. The Working Group’s First Report reviews existing dredging practices, laws, and regulations, in accordance with Annex 6 of the Agreement. Following a historical review of the Great Lakes, the report explains the dredging process. The usual purpose of dredging is to maintain or extend navigable waterways, to create or improve harbor facilities, to extract resource materials (sand, gravel, shell), to remove undesirable materials, or to create reclaimed land. The report records the purpose, extent, output, and uneven geographic distribution of dredging activities in Canada and the U.S. separately, for the period 1970 to 1972. The majority of dredging is undertaken to improve navigation, with mining and land reclamation requiring only small quantities to be dredged. Lakes Erie and Ontario are subject to the most dredging. The ecological impacts of dredging activities are not uniformly negative. The report characterizes the short-term and long-term environmental effects of dredging as regards excavation, transportation, disposal, ecological zones, thin layer addition, bottom modification, and contamination. Benthic communities are useful indicators in this regard. Various methods and equipment are used for different dredging activities. There are three categories of dredges: mechanical, hydraulic, and pneumatic. Many agencies in the U.S. and Canada bear dredging-related responsibilities. The report enumerates, explains, and discusses the plethora of federal and provincial laws and regulations bearing on dredging (pp. 108-145). Existing statutory provisions may collectively be adequate to control environmental problems stemming from dredging, but their diffuse nature challenges coordination. PL 91-611, Section 123 requires the Corps of Engineers to provide diked disposal areas for polluted dredged material, which has curtailed Great Lakes dredging in the U.S. A great many joint and related studies by diverse agencies contribute to the Working Group’s investigation; the report summarizes them all, including estimated costs and completion dates. In the Appendices, inventories outline dredging and disposal activities carried out in Canada (1966-1972 and estimated for 1963-1977) and the U.S. (pre-1969 and projects included in the PL 91-611 program). Dredging forecasts are as unpredictable as the political and economic factors influencing project realization. The “Soil Test Results” provide pollution information for past and projected sites. The Ministry of Transport (Canada)’s system of referring applications under the Navigable Waters Act to various federal and provincial departments should be refined and formalized. Contains maps and diagrams showing aspects of Great Lakes ecology and regulatory processes for dredging.
- The Ecosystem Approach: Theory and Ecosystem Integrity
International Joint Commission - Commission mixte internationaleThe Science Advisory Board (SAB)’s Ecological Committee commissioned this paper, written by the Committee’s Co-Chairman Timothy Allen (Professor of Botany, University of Wisconsin), the IJC’s Ecomanagement Advisor Bruce Bandurski, and Anthony King (Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory). The essay is a theoretical exploration of the “ecosystem approach,” which is broadly applicable in IJC work. The general aim is a better understanding of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem (GLBE), but scope is overall inclusive. Technical and lay meanings of “ecosystem” vary. The paper discusses ecosystem structure and dynamics. The multi-faceted, changeable, evolving nature of ecosystems demands sensitive, continuously adapted, yet clear and specific responses. The scale of remedial actions varies with the scale of the problem’s source. Adequate ecosystem management requires multiple scales of perception and recognition of ecosystems’ richness. Human needs and desires are also multi-faceted: humans evince conflicting understandings of their place in the system. Humans need to find common ground rather than serve narrow interests when making decisions. An ecosystem perspective emphasizes breadth of vision while contextualizing problems as related to all components and conditions in a local, interconnected environment. The authors recommend the SAB implement the ecosystem approach in all matters of GLBE integrity. Recommendations involve transforming policy, inter-agency coordination, action timelines, research paradigms, and learning in society as a whole.
- The Air Quality Accord
The Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of_x000D_ America on Air Quality (i.e. the Air Quality Accord) was signed by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney_x000D_ and President George Bush on March 13, 1991. The Agreement results from a decade-long effort by Canada and the U.S. to develop a bilateral solution to the acid rain problem, but the Agreement goes beyond this issue. It sets terms whereby Canada and the U.S. pledge to control any air pollution that flows across the international boundary, ranging from problems of continental scale, as with acid rain, to regional and local concerns, such as urban smog and single plant emissions. The Agreement’s main text – Articles I through XVI – establish a framework for developing necessary obligations. The Articles commit both countries to consult prior to any activities that might cause significant transboundary air pollution, to take steps to avoid or mitigate risks, to jointly develop means to deal with existing transboundary air pollution problems, and to report publicly on relevant progress. The International Joint Commission (IJC) will hold public hearings and solicit public reaction on this progress, forwarding it back to the governments. The Accord provides a process for settling any binational disputes that may arise in dealing with transboundary air pollution problems. The Accord must be reviewed five years in. Annex 1 of the Accord deals with acid-rain-causing emissions. It sets permanent caps on sulphur dioxide emissions, reductions that will stop the acid rain damage occurring in Canada. It requires scheduled reductions in nitrogen oxides emissions from factories and power plants, tighter emission standards for new motor vehicles, monitoring of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions, and specific actions to protect both countries’ wilderness areas. Annex 2 addresses co-operative research and monitoring activities which will reveal the adequacy of the acid rain controls outlined in the Acid Raid Annex, and inform the development of the means to address other transboundary air pollution problems. Annexes will be added as issues are negotiated. The means taken to achieve a solution will remain a unilateral decision._x000D_ In Canada's Green Plan, the Canadian Government indicates that urban smog is the next issue it wishes to address.