International Joint Commission (IJC)
More than a century of cooperation protecting shared waters

Reports and Publications

Recent Reports

Search Reports and Publications


Publications 785 Results

Report on Spills in the Great Lakes Basin with a Special Focus on the St. Clair-Detroit River Corridor
International Joint Commission - Commission mixte internationale
2006/08/01

Since the mid-1990s spills have appeared to be declining in the Great Lakes basin; unfortunately this is not quite the case in the St. Clair River and the Detroit River. Through the 1990s, and well into the current decade, several spills contaminated the Lake Huron-Lake Erie corridor. The International Joint Commission (IJC) outlined this concern in its 12th Biennial Report. This Report asks whether recent spills in the St. Clair-Detroit River Corridor are isolated events or symptomatic of a widespread problem, focusing on trends instead of [specific/individual] impacts. Spills are defined as “accidental or illicit discharges of substances that cause or may cause harm to the environment or to humans.” The IJC pinpoints the need for a shared regional database to manage spill data, for binational coordination of multiple spill prevention approaches, for cooperation with Canadian and U.S. Coast Guards, for resolution of the conflict surrounding responsibility for clean-up costs, and for improved monitoring and communication procedures, highlighting progress on these fronts. A large Technical Annex assembles background information. It compiles data on spills in the St. Clair-Detroit River Corridor and elsewhere since 1990, and cross-analyzes it with the aid of charts and figures to reveal local trends in spill occurrence. The data is not entirely consistent as it comes from different agencies, but supports the preliminary conclusions, such as that often Canadian sources are responsible for spills on the Canadian side of the border and U.S. sources for those on the U.S. side. Some regions have seen notable declines in spills while others have seen high numbers in recent years. Details are provided on the types of substances – oils and hydrocarbons, chemicals, wastes – spilled from various sources. The final section examines monitoring, notification, response, and communication methods and exhibits examples useful to governments, industries, agencies, and the public.

IJC Canada and United States 2005 Annual Report
International Joint Commission
2006/06/27

This brochure summarizes the activities of the International Joint Commission (IJC) in 2005. The IJC began the process of reviewing the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) by conducting public consultations; the IJC will soon advise government. The IJC’s GLWQA advisory boards completed their 2003-2005 Priorities Report. The 2005 Great Lakes Conference and Biennial Meeting was held in Kingston, Ontario. Several workshops engaged researchers, personnel, and citizens in discussion on science, policy, and public concern relevant to the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence ecosystem. Murray Charleton of Environment Canada’s National Water Research Institute was presented with the IJC’s Biennial Award. The IJC and the Canadian Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fishery Commission continued to discuss the latter’s request that the IJC issue further Orders for indemnification of the interests of Aboriginal peoples whose fisheries were allegedly damaged by the Grand Coulee Dam and Reservoir. The Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Study Board concluded its review of the IJC’s Orders of Approval system; their report will be released in 2006. The IJC released a synthesis of public comment on progress under the Air Quality Agreement. The International Air Quality Advisory Board held a workshop on air quality monitoring, modeling and communication. The IJC issued another on the International Watershed Initiative. It completed work on references regarding Missisquoi Bay, the final report to be released in 2006. It issued a revised Upper Lakes Plan of Study for the Review of the Regulation of Outflows from Lake Superior pursuant to the IJC control order at the St. Mary’s River. It appointed members to its International St. Mary and Milk Rivers Administrative Task Force. It engaged two scholars to write a history of the Boundary Waters Treaty. The brochure reiterates the IJC’s history and mission, and summarizes the organization’s structure and key activities.

Priorities 2003-2005: Priorities and Progress Under the GLWQA
International Joint Commission - Commission mixte internationale
2006/06/01

The IJC, in consultation with its Advisory Boards as well as Great Lakes basin residents, establishes priorities for each biennial cycle, which are assigned to one or more Boards for pertinent research, science, and policy advice to advance stewardship of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem. The 2003-2005 Priorities and Progress Report addresses seven short- and long-term priorities. The top priority from 2003-2005 was mandatory review of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA/Agreement). The Great Lakes Water Quality Board (WQB) developed guiding principles, analyzed the GLWQA’s history, reconsidered its scope, addressed physical integrity called for in the Agreement, and held a Watershed Approaches Workshop to improve linkages between jurisdictional watershed activities and Lakewide Management Plans (LaMPs). The WQB also consulted with Remedial Action Plan (RAP) coordinators on scientific research, monitoring, leadership, and accountability. The Great Lakes Science Advisory Board (SAB) worked on the urbanization priority, commenting on post-PLUARG progress, assessing revised State of the Great Lakes Ecosystem (SOLEC) indicators, assessing urban land use regulatory frameworks, and reviewing literature on stormwater management. It created a computer simulation of an Ontario watershed (Kitchener, ON) to compare water quality in 1971 and 2004 and to evaluate stormwater practices; compact urban form coupled with low-impact stormwater control is preferred. Waterborne microbial pathogens endanger human health through consumption and even recreational water use. The SAB outlines components for an Environmental Pathogens Strategy involving research, education, monitoring, and sound management. Legacy and emerging chemicals remain a great concern. The SAB conducted workshops and planning activities to strengthen science approaches to Great Lakes water management through the GLWQA, institutional arrangements, and governance. The International Air Quality Advisory Board (AQB) developed a multi-compartment model to track mercury from source to deposition, dispersion, and bioaccumulation, using Lake Ontario and Oswego (NY) as the subject water body and human community, respectively. The Council of Great Lakes Research Managers’s main activities concerned Annexes 11 (Surveillance and Monitoring) and 17 (Research and Development). It worked on the Great Lakes Research Coordination Strategy and the Global Earth Observing System of Systems (open water observation technology). The document summarizes recommendations of each Board/Council. The IJC will consider these for the Thirteenth Biennial Report on Great Lakes Water Quality.

Options for Managing Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River Water Levels and Flows (Final Report)
International Lake Ontario-St.Lawrence River Study Board
2006/04/02

This is the final report of the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Study Board (the Study Board), its findings and recommendations representing five years of binational research and cooperation by the Study teams and countless participants. The report reviews the history of the 1952 and 1956 Orders of Approval and Regulation Plan 1958-D, still in force, and the continuing role of the IJC and other bodies in monitoring changing hydrologic conditions and the current operating regime’s effects over time. In 2000 the IJC appointed the Study Board to undertake a five-year, US$20 million comprehensive review. The Study Board coordinated extensive scientific data collection. The Study’s Shared Vision Planning integrated advanced modeling studies, including stochastic hydrologic modeling and analyses of four climate change scenarios. The Public Interest Advisory Group ensured extensive stakeholder input. The Study Team formulated and evaluated several possible regulation plans, discarding Plans E, C, and OntRip3 in favour of A+, B+, and D+. These three candidate plans provide net economic and environmental improvements to the current Plan 1958-D, incorporating benefits to flood control, commercial navigation, hydropower, and to a moderate degree shoreline properties. The greatest difference between the plans is in how they affect recreational boating, shoreline flooding and erosion, and the natural ecosystem. “Natural flows” have irrevocably changed since pre-Moses-Saunders-Dam conditions. Water-use facilities are generally not vulnerable to water level changes, but all require upgrading. Condition (i) of the 1952/1956 Order of Approval, specifying criteria (a) through (k), will need complete replacement. The International St. Lawrence River Board of Control should acquire several new responsibilities and a name change. Adaptive management, continued provision for deviations in emergency situations, review of shoreline management policy and practice, inter-organizational communications and linkages, additional personnel and resources, information management, and enhanced public outreach and education will be crucial to implementing the chosen regulation plan. The report notes divergent viewpoints, although the majority of the Study Board stands behind these recommendations. The report includes an extensive directory, reference list, glossary, plenty of tables and figures to illustrate data, and the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address. Four Annexes are compiled in a companion volume.

Options for Managing Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River Water Levels and Flows (Annexes)
International Lake Ontario-St.Lawrence River Study Board
2006/04/02

These are the Annexes to the final report of the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Study Board. The IJC formed the Study Board in 2000 to undertake a five-year comprehensive review of the operating regime that has regulated Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River levels ever since the 1952 and 1956 Orders of Approval and 1963 Regulation Plan 1958-D were instituted. The Study Board conducted extensive scientific investigations on the regulation’s effects over time, in light of changing hydrologic conditions and emerging or renewed concerns from a range of interests. Annex 1 contains the IJC’s 2000 Directive to the Study Board, the Executive Summary of the 1999 Plan of Study, and the original Orders. Annex 2 compiles detailed summaries (with references) of the work accomplished by each Technical Work Group (TWG) (memberships listed): Environmental, Recreational Boating and Tourism, Coastal Processes, Commercial Navigation, Hydroelectric Power Generation, Municipal, Industrial and Domestic Water Uses, Hydrology and Hydraulics Modeling, Common Data Needs, and Information Management. All TWGs measured and analyzed performance indicators against which to judge current and potential regulation. The six interest-specific TWGs present “contextual narratives” speaking on socioeconomic context (production value, stakeholders, organizational characteristics, laws and policies, and effects of the last low or high water conditions for that interest), performance indicators, additional benefit categories, baseline conditions, trends, expected consequences from the change in regulation, adaptive behaviours, and risk assessment. An additional contextual narrative addresses concerns expressed by the Mohawk communities of Akwesasne, Kahnawake, and Tyendinaga. Annex 3 contains descriptions of every potential regulation plan the Study Board developed and tested: the baseline plan 1958-D with simulated deviation (1958-DD); the reference plan, 1958-D without deviations; the three plans chosen as candidates, A+ (“the balanced economics plan”), B+ (“balanced environmental”), and D+ (“blended benefits”); and the interest-specific plans, E (“natural flow”), 1998, OntRip3 (designed to minimize flooding and erosion), and RecBoat. The report quantitatively analyzes and compares each plan’s economic and environmental performance under a 100-year historical sequence using recorded water supply data, and under 50,000-year stochastic sequences for varying hypothetical hydrologic conditions and climate change. Annex 3 also provides the guide of constraints and assumptions used in the plan formulation process. Annex 4 contains a prototype Mitigation Action Plan and Adaptive Management Action Plan, which will be integral to implementation of whichever Plan the IJC decides to propose to governments.

Annual Report to the International Joint Commission from the International Osoyoos Board of Control for Calendar Year 2005
International Osoyoos Lake Board of Control
2006/03/17

The IJC established the International Osoyoos Lake Board of Control (the Board) in 1986 to carry out the provisions of the IJC’s December 1982 Order of Approval and October 1985 Supplementary Order. This is the Board’s report to IJC for activities accomplished in 2004. On April 8th the Board notified the Washington State Department of Ecology (WADOE) that based on forecasted and actual snowmelt runoff the Similkameen River, drought conditions for operating Osoyoos Lake would be invoked between April 1st and October 31st. The Similkameen’s flow volume for April-July was 48% of its average, ranking as the third lowest runoff volume in 77 years on record, far below the 1 million acre-feet specified in the first drought condition. The other two drought conditions were not met. WADOE informed the Board that Washington reached an informal agreement with British Columbia to raise the level of Osoyoos Lake no higher than 912.5 feet during the 2005 drought declaration in return for 2,850 acre-feet of water in the spring to assist the movement of sockeye smolts through Zosel Dam during their out-migration. WADOE planned to maintain the lake level near 912.5 feet until water was needed for irrigation in late summer/early fall. The report summarizes hydrologic conditions in 2004. Appendix I contains data on Osoyoos Lake and Okanogan River elevations, inflows, outflows, and discharges, noting the international gaging stations in use. Hydrographs juxtapose recorded lake elevations with authorized elevations. The Orders of Approval expire in 2013. The Board decided to prepare a Plan of Study to identify investigations needed to inform Order renewal decisions. It selected Chris Bull and his company Glenfir Resources to draft the Plan of Study. Mr. Bull presented at the Board’s annual and public meetings, both held on October 4th in Osoyoos. The Board participated in the fall semi-annual IJC meeting by teleconference. Mr. Bull delivered the draft to the Board and Commission in December, held two more public meetings, and delivered a penultimate draft to the Commission in February 2006. On October 5th in Osoyoos, the Board listened to a series of presentations on climate change.

An Update of the International Joint Commission’s 1998 Report, Unsafe Dams? Seven Years Later – What has Changed?
International Joint Commission - Commission mixte internationale
2006/03/01

In its 1998 report Unsafe Dams? The International Joint Commission (IJC) alerted governments to the inadequate safety inspection and maintenance at a number of Regulated Facilities (structures such as dams that are subject to IJC Orders) at the Canada/U.S. border. Without government oversight there is no effective means of ensuring accountability for developments that can jeopardize the safety of humans and the environment. Emergency action plans exist for all transboundary Regulated Facilities except for those at Prairie Portage, International Kettle Falls, and Squirrel Falls, but joint government inspections are not carried out, although the U.S. has two federal agencies conducting regular inspections for U.S. infrastructure, and the British Columbia government oversees provincial facilities. This follow-up report outlines actions taken by the IJC to rectify deficiencies in dam security for transboundary facilities whether regulated by the IJC or not. The report details communications with implicated ministries, agencies, and companies, briefings held, and government and corporate response. Tables and elaborated examples compile data on all transboundary regulated facilities, their ownership, and government inspections of them, if any. The IJC recommends that the Canadian government implement its National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure Protection, that the U.S. government increases funding to Maine and Minnesota for inspection purposes, that governments ensure oversight of non-IJC-regulated border facilities, and that they engage in joint oversight of transboundary structures. Appendices cover relevant government programs; IJC-regulated facilities, inspections, emergency planning and inundation mapping; and Sections 91, 91, and 132 of the 1867 Constitution Act, which implicate the Canadian government in appropriate management of water structures.

Children’s Health and the Environment in North America: A First Report on Available Indicators and Measures
Commission for Environmental Cooperation
2006/01/01

This report is North America’s initial contribution to the Global Initiative on Children’s Environmental Health Indicators. Substantial child populations remain significantly vulnerable to environmental threats. Risk levels are linked to social and economic disparities: poverty and unsafe environmental exposures positively correlate. Epidemiological research links pollution exposure to health effects. Growing knowledge of children’s health issues impels the need for improved policy information. In 2002, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation of North America (CEC) adopted the Cooperative Agenda for Children’s Health and the Environment in North America, committing to develop suitable indicators for children’s environmental health issues (Resolutions appended). The CEC collaborated with a steering group (members listed) composed of representatives of the IJC’s Health Professionals Task Force, the Pan American Health Organization, the World Health Organization, and the three North American governments. They established thirteen indicators in three categories, a partial sample of potential risk areas: Asthma and Respiratory Disease, Effects of Exposure to Lead and Other Toxic Substances, and Waterborne Diseases. The report describes each indicator and discusses statistics (if available) on its status in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico: percentage of children living in urban areas where air pollution levels exceed relevant air quality standards; exposure to environmental tobacco smoke/biomass fuel emissions; prevalence of asthma; blood lead levels; homes with potential lead source; Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) data on industrial releases of lead; PRTR data on 153 specified chemicals (listed in English, French, and Spanish, according to the 1995-2002 matched data set); pesticide residues (body burden, residue levels on food); households without access to treated water; those without access to sanitary sewers; percentage served by public water systems in violation of local standards; morbidity attributed to waterborne diseases; and mortality. Of these, only asthma is currently addressed by all three countries; the data gaps must be rectified. The report relies more on prevalence than incidence data. Tracking at-risk subpopulations involves case studies, regional monitoring, and data mapping, and further research, for instance on contaminant pathways to children. Biomonitoring, which measures direct exposure, is indispensable for exposure-reducing policies and programs. Thousands of substances have yet to be fully tested for their potential harm. Plentifully illustrated with uncontextualized photos of children.

Synthesis of Public Comment on the Forthcoming Review by the Federal Governments of Canada and the United States of The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement
International Joint Commission - Commission mixte internationale
2006/01/01

In preparing the forthcoming review of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA), the IJC invited commentary through numerous forums, including the Biennial Meeting, fourteen public meetings (in cooperation with local governments), a four-day web dialogue, and submissions by fax, mail, email, toll-free telephone, and website, making available resources to educate the public on the GLWQA. The 4,100 participant people and organizations are listed in an appendix. The main themes that emerged included strong support for the GLWQA, its values and objectives, and desire for all levels of government to reinvigorate their efforts to implement it. Prime related concerns were municipal sewage, animal wastes, climate change, aquatic invasive species (AIS), land use and watershed management issues, and wetlands. The IJC systematically reviews the issues raised in public comment (available on CD-ROM), and presents majority as well as minority views on each. Discussion also involved aquaculture, contaminated sediments, economic issues, monitoring, agency effectiveness, and accountability. The Report outlines perceived successes and failures, regarding for instance lack of monetary support, lack of environmental improvement in Areas of Concern, and failure to anticipate problems and act promptly to rectify them. Participants wanted the scope of the Agreement to broaden to include AIS, emerging chemicals, mercury emissions, road salts, radionuclides, sewage, land-use planning, monitoring, consistency with other agreements, the precautionary principle, natural hydrologic regimes, a watershed approach, interbasin transfers of water, cargo sweeping, local governments, Aboriginal representation, wetlands, Lake Simcoe, and the St. Lawrence River downstream of the international boundary at Cornwall/Massena. Tables tally participants’ demographic and geographic characteristics, interests, and involvement in the Great Lakes.

Synthesis of Public Comment on the 2004 Progress Report under the Canada/United States Air Quality Agreement
International Joint Commission - Commission mixte internationale
2005/12/01

The 1991 Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement (AQA) instituted a bilateral Air Quality Committee (AQC), led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada, to implement the AQA by organizing action to mitigate transboundary air pollution. Under AQA Article IX, the IJC invited comments on the 2004 AQC Progress Report for the years 2002-2004. Of the 35 comments received, eight were from the U.S. and 27 were from Canada; 14 represented state, provincial, or municipal governments, 15 represented non-governmental organizations, 6 came from individuals, and 15 more from two consultation meetings, all listed in an appendix. Respondents were generally satisfied with progress in reducing sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds in the eastern part of North America. Several objected to the Report’s conclusion that human health and the environment have benefited greatly from progress under the AQA, saying it was not adequately supported by sound science. The consensus was that current pollution reduction objectives are insufficient for full ecosystem recovery. Respondents expressed concern over emissions trading and “credit banking.” Besides the Acid Rain Annex, the Ozone Annex received the greatest number of comments, which varied in their optimism. Numerous respondents spoke of important issues or initiatives that are not currently covered by the AQA, such as airborne transport of mercury and persistent toxic chemicals and transboundary particulate matter science assessments. Several commented on the lack of a critical, independent analysis of governmental actions to achieve objectives. They suggested the IJC be given a more meaningful role to review progress and policy directions, evaluate performance, and identify challenges and risks.

International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Study PIAG Final Report to the IJC
Public Interest Advisory Group
2005/11/30

The volunteer-driven Public Interest Advisory Group (PIAG) “peer-reviewed” the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Study from its inception in 2000 onward. The Study examined the existing regulation plan controlling outflows from Lake Ontario through the St. Lawrence River, based on the original 1952 (revised 1956) Order of Approval. Many PIAG members were originally active critics of the International St. Lawrence River Board of Control (ISLRBC) prior to the Study. PIAG ensured effective, transparent communication between the public, the Study Board, and the Study’s Technical Work Groups. It educated the public on the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence System and engaged them to become involved in the Study. Public outreach mechanisms included the Study database, an electronic list serve, a website, the Ripple Effects newsletter, postal-code-targeting advertisements, and a stakeholder web network. PIAG’s activities in Study years four and five included membership meetings, 140 presentations by the Speakers Bureau, and an intensive series of public meetings (each summarized in turn). Communities generally preferred Plans B and D to Plan A; to varying extents they expressed concern regarding shoreline erosion, flooding, perceived insufficient time for public input, riparian property owner rights, and the need for better communications, monitoring, and review. They generally supported a more natural lake-river regime, as close as possible to natural water fluctuations, in the interests of ecosystem health. The IJC should dedicate funds for a dedicated communications position at the ISLRBC, as well as for publication of important meetings and documents. Numerous other recommendations address the Study team in its concluding stages, the ISLRBC (a permanent body), and future IJC Studies in turn. Appended are PIAG’s Terms of Reference, membership affiliations, full list of five years’ outreach meetings, and extensive comments from individual PIAG members, as well as ISLRBC’s Communication Strategy.

A Guide to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (Background for the 2006 Government Review) English Version
International Joint Commission - Commission mixte internationale
2005/09/01

The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA/Agreement) is a formal international agreement first signed by Canada and the U.S. in 1972. The IJC will hold public meetings to contribute to a comprehensive review of the GLWQA to brief the public beginning in spring 2006. The GLWQA reflects the two countries’ commitment to resolve a wide range of water quality issues facing the Great Lakes and the international section of the St. Lawrence River, together comprising the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem (GLBE) as defined in the Agreement. There are many environmental, economic, and social benefits to restoring and protecting the GLBE. The 1972 Agreement set water quality objectives and mandated programs to meet them, prioritizing point-source pollution from industrial sources and sewage plants; pollution was dramatically reduced. A new Agreement signed in 1978 adopted an ecosystem approach, calling for virtual elimination of persistent toxic substance input. Toxic substance levels in GLBE fish and wildlife declined significantly, as exemplified by percent change in DDT and PCB concentrations in lake trout and walleye. The Agreement was amended in 1987, identifying 43 contaminated “Areas of Concern” (AOCs) and calling for Remedial Action Plans (RAPs) to restore them, the actual cost of which are analyzed. Revised annexes address land runoff, contaminated sediments, groundwater, and airborne contaminants. The 1987 Protocol also established the Binational Executive Committee, and transferred major data collection/reporting responsibilities to government. The Guide summarizes the Agreement’s Articles and Annexes, and briefs on current collaborative initiatives and IJC Boards. The Agreement must be updated again to address emerging and persistent issues, such as phosphorus, invasive species, critical contaminants, urban sprawl, shoreline development, and climate change. The Guide asks readers to consider the GLWQA’s effectiveness and scope, and local and basin-wide issues they wish to see addressed.

Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Information Map
International Joint Commission
2005/06/01

This poster showcases and educates on the largest system of fresh surface water on earth: the Great Lakes (Superior, Huron, Michigan, Ontario, Erie) and the St. Lawrence River. The poster’s centerpiece is a map of the Great Lakes basin marked with icons, major cities, the forty-three Areas of Concern (marked but unlabelled), and revealing facts and statistics on each major water body and their shoreline environments, highlighting both natural and human factors. A pop quiz/self-questionnaire tests readers on what they know about the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence system. Formed 14,000 years ago during the last ice age by glaciers, the Great Lakes are geologically young. Erosion, (earth’s) crustal movements, planetary spin, and climate change will continue to alter the lakes and their tributaries. This immense watershed became home to a highly diverse and productive biological community and to Native peoples long before exploration and settlement in the region by Europeans. Today the watershed supports more than 37 million human inhabitants. The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence system (lake levels profile provided) provides water for drinking, municipalities, industry (e.g. steel), agriculture, hydroelectric, shipping, fishing, and more. Human actions wield significant power to the benefit or, more often, detriment of the basin environment. Our actions are directly implicated in species extinction, overfishing, introduction of alien invasive species, increased erosion, habitat destruction, chemical bioaccumulation (see inset diagram), wetland destruction, waste production, and pollution of all kinds. The International Joint Commission monitors and reports on progress under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (1972, 1978, 1987) towards achieving water quality objectives and restoration of beneficial uses and aquatic health, particularly in Areas of Concern by means of the Remedial Action Plan process. The IJC advises governments, coordinates research, and educates the wider public on issues of concern. The health of the basin mirrors our own; our decisions and actions must sustain rather than harm this precious ecosystem.

A Discussion Paper on The International Watershed Initiative: Second Report to the Governments of Canada and the United States
International Joint Commission
2005/06/01

The International Watersheds Initiative (IWI) is a project undertaken by the International Joint Commission_x000D_ (IJC) evolving from its 1997 report The IJC and the 21st Century, as well as a 1998 Reference. Its premise is that local communities, when appropriately assisted, are best positioned to resolve local watershed problems. The IWI focuses on fostering partnerships to augment local capabilities. The IJC advanced this watershed concept by charging several existing boards to study and report on considerations specific to local watersheds, while respecting existing resource management jurisdiction. Permanent international boards are now dedicated to the watersheds of the St. Croix River (in ME and NB), the Red River (MN, MB, ND, SD), and the Rainy River (ON, MN). The Report profiles each watershed in detail, examining the programs their respective boards are using to address conflict, build regional capacity, and effect coordination. Significant water quality improvements have occurred in all three rivers since the 1960s thanks in part to the work of the IJC and its boards. Balance of competing interests in these watersheds becomes more challenging with increased climate variability, accelerated land development, and problems such as invasive species, nutrient-loadings, and accidental spills. The watershed boards seek to expand means of redress such as air quality assessments, hydrology models, digital watershed mapping, risk analyses, and flood mitigation plans. The IJC requests bilateral discussion on the IWI and recommends that both federal governments maintain long-term funding and support for IWI projects in order for their fruition to benefit watershed health.

Annual Report to the International Joint Commission from the International Osoyoos Lake Board of Control for Calendar Year 2004
International Osoyoos Lake Board of Control
2005/03/18

The IJC established the International Osoyoos Lake Board of Control (the Board) in 1986 to carry out the provisions of the IJC’s December 1982 Order of Approval and October 1985 Supplementary Order. This is the Board’s report to IJC for activities accomplished in 2004. In a video teleconference with the IJC, the Board discussed the process to re-issue the Orders, which expire in 2013. It contributed to the IJC’s 1998 Unsafe Dams report by describing four dams in the Columbia River Basin related to IJC Orders: the Corra Linn, Waneta, Grand Coulee, and Zosel Dams. On April 9th the Board advised the Washington State Department of Ecology (WADOE) that drought conditions for operating Osoyoos Lake would be invoked between April 1st and October 31st. Due to higher-than-forecast runoff in the Similkameen and Okanagan Basins, none of the three drought criteria were met. On July 2nd, the Board rescinded the drought declaration, stipulating that lake levels were to be lowered to the normal non-drought range, which they were for the remainder of the year with one very minor exception. The report summarizes forecasted and actual hydrologic conditions in 2004. High river discharges and stages created backwater conditions in the Okanogan River for thirty-five days, but not enough to cause Osoyoos Lake levels to rise above the authorized range. A flow in excess of 2,500 cfs was not observed this year, so the capacity of the outlet channel did not have to be verified in accordance with Condition 3. Hydrographs juxtapose recorded lake elevations with authorized normal and drought elevations. Appendix I contains data on Osoyoos Lake and Okanogan River elevations, inflows, outflows, and discharges, noting the international gaging stations in use. The Board met on October 26th at the Oroville-Osoyoos Port of Entry. Following presentations at the public meeting which followed, members of the public inquired on Lake Osoyoos water quality, drought criteria, drought frequency, and the duration of the new Orders. The report appends a Board membership directory.

International Niagara Board of Control One Hundred Fourth Semi-Annual Progress Report to the International Joint Commission
International Niagara Board of Control
2005/03/03

The level of Lake Erie remained at or above its long-term average during the months of September 2004 through February 2005 (Section 2). Precipitation on the Lake Erie basin was above average for the period. The level of the Chippawa-Grass Island Pool was regulated in accordance with the International Niagara Board of Control’s 1993 Directive (Section 3). Modifications/upgrades of all eighteen gates of the control structure were completed by the end of 2004. On February 26, the International Niagara Control Works were operated in conjunction with altered diversions to the Fortis, Ontario Power Generation and New York Power Authority generating facilities to lower the water level along the Canadian shore that assisted in a successful rescue operation. Work was completed in the fall of 2004 that improved the stability of the Ashland Avenue gauge site and river bank (Section 6). A series of discharge measurements, as part of the on-going program to verify the Ashland Avenue rating, were taken at the Cableway Section in late October/early November 2004. A report has been completed and a review of all past measurements, the need for future conventional measurements, and an investigation into the possible revision of the 1981 rating will be started (Section 7). The Power Entities (Ontario Power Generation and the New York Power Authority) continue with their generator upgrade programs to increase hydroelectric power production at Niagara (Section 8). The New York Power Authority’s re-licensing process for the Niagara Power Project continues as studies and surveys progress and settlement agreements with stakeholders are reached. Ontario Power Generation continues to proceed with preliminary work associated with its Niagara Tunnel Project. The Lake Erie-Niagara River Ice Boom was installed during the period December 17 through 20 in accordance with the Commission’s supplementary Order of Approval (Section 9). The Board will hold a meeting with the public on September 20, 2005 in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario (Section 10). Brigadier General Bruce A. Berwick replaced Brigadier General Steven R. Hawkins as the U.S. Chair of the Board.

Transboundary Impacts of the Missisquoi Bay Causeway and the Missisquoi Bay Bridge Project
International Joint Commission - Commission mixte internationale
2005/02/01

This is the IJC’s final report in response to the Reference by letters of May 7, 2004, and May 11, 2004, from Canada and the U.S., respectively, regarding the potential transboundary impacts of the Missisquoi Bay causeway and the proposed new bridge (Appendix 1). Based on the report of the Commission’s International Missisquoi Bay Task Force and extensive public consultations (Appendices 2 and 3), the Commission is satisfied that the causeway does not affect water levels, flows, or circulation patterns in Canada consequentially, and that neither the causeway nor the new bridge project causes any pollution resulting in transboundary injury to health or property. However, the current state of water quality in Missisquoi Bay presents an unacceptable situation that is adversely affecting health and property in both countries and constitutes a threat to the health of Lake Champlain. The Commission recommends that Vermont and Quebec make additional investments and further accelerate their domestic programs to reduce phosphorus levels in the bay. With respect to the causeway, though removal would have a negligible impact on phosphorous levels, the prevailing local belief that the causeway contributes to the problems of the bay is so strong that the Commission believes that so long as the causeway remains, it will continue to distract local citizens from taking the necessary actions to reduce phosphorous inputs into the bay. Therefore, the Commission recommends that the causeway be removed under the condition that an amount of money equal to the cost of causeway removal be provided by the governments of Canada and Quebec to be spent roughly equally on both sides of the boundary to reduce phosphorous inputs into the bay and to facilitate the relocation of the habitat for the spiny softshell turtles.

Sixty-Third Annual Report to the International Joint Commission from the International Columbia River Board of Control for Calendar Year 2004
International Columbia River Board of Control
2005/01/01

The Order of the International Joint Commission dated December 15, 1941, in the matter of the Application of the United States for Approval of the construction and operation of the Grand Coulee Dam and reservoir (Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake) provided for the creation of an engineering board to be known as the International Columbia River Board of Control, to which the undersigned have been duly appointed. The Order provides that the Board shall conduct studies under the supervision of the Commission as to the effect of the operation of Grand Coulee Dam and Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake on water levels at and above the international boundary, and shall submit a report to the Commission annually.

IJC Canada and United States 2004 Annual Report
International Joint Commission
2005/01/01

This brochure summarizes the activities of the International Joint Commission (IJC) in 2004. The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) continues to express the bilateral commitment to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem waters. The IJC’s Twelfth Biennial Report was issued in 2004. It highlights urban land use impacts on Great Lakes water quality; it recommends that both federal governments implement Acts and/or Action Plans to curtail aquatic invasive species; it urges coordinated response to increased risk of waterborne disease from water contamination by identified sources; and it expresses concern at increased spills in the St. Clair-Detroit River Corridor. In other news, the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Study Board and its working groups continued its five-year study into possible emendations to the IJC’s order of approval for hydroelectric power structures in the River. With regard to proposed refurbishment of the Alburg-Swanton Bridge (VA), the IJC evaluated potential resultant detriment to Missisquoi Bay (Lake Champlain) water quality. The International Air Quality Advisory Board released two reports. Further IJC activities comprised advancing the International Watershed Initiative; consulting the public and establishing a Task Force to review the 1921 order for apportionment of the St. Mary and Milk Rivers (in AB, SK, and MT); and releasing a report describing legislative actions taken since 2000 to regulate withdrawals and diversions from the Great Lakes. Assisted by its control boards, the IJC regulated water levels and flows in the Great Lakes and seven other boundary watersheds. The International Souris River Board monitored apportionment of the transboundary Souris River waters. Finally, the International Red River Board reviewed progress on IJC recommendations made in its Living With the Red Report simultaneously with development of flood mitigation plans.

International Joint Commission Principles for the Review of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement
International Joint Commission - Commission mixte internationale
2004/11/12

The Parties to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) – the Governments of Canada and the U.S. – are responsible for conducting a “comprehensive” review of the “operation and effectiveness” of the Agreement, as per GLWQA Article X.4. The International Joint Commission recommends that the Parties adhere to certain principles in the course of its review. The review should open and transparent, inclusive timely, binational, and impartial. It should consider the Agreement’s purpose first and foremost; use science and science-policy linkages as its basis; be forward-looking; consider governance; and consider accountability. The document elaborates on what the IJC means by each of these principles.

International Missisquoi Bay Task Force: Final Report to the International Joint Commission
International Missisquoi Bay Task Force
2004/10/20

On June 15, 2004, the IJC appointed the International Missisquoi Bay Task Force to examine and report to the IJC on questions regarding possible transboundary implications of the Missisquoi Bay Bridge project. The Task Force conducted a scientific and technical review of the hydrodynamic modeling previously completed for Vermont, and held public information meetings in Quebec and Vermont. The Task Force found general support for the construction of the new bridge itself. With respect to the causeway, the Task Force concluded that it did not act as a dam but rather as an obstacle that changes water flow and circulation patterns in the area near the causeway. Over the past five years (1999-2003) Missisquoi Bay phosphorus levels have been high. The Task Force concluded that the presence of the causeway changes the distribution pattern of phosphorus concentrations over a few miles largely in the U.S. portion of the bay. Removal of the causeway would redistribute the phosphorus but would not remove any phosphorus from the overall system. This must be done by reduction of inputs of phosphorus into the bay. The presence of the causeway leads to a very small but finite amount of pollution in Canada and in the United States but it is not the fundamental cause of the important water quality and health problems (associated with blue green algae) experienced by local residents. The Task Force recommends to the IJC: (1) rely on the scientific findings, (2) encourage ongoing and planned actions to reduce phosphorus loading to the bay from the watershed, (3) take into account other public considerations when determining their recommendations to governments about the project, and (4) encourage further research in the three areas where information gaps were identified: turtle biology, the relationship between blue green algae blooms and phosphorus levels and the impact of multiple causeway removals.

Lower Pembina River Flooding: A Report to the International Joint Commisison
R. Halliday R.Bowering R. Gjestvang
2004/09/23

Transboundary flooding on the lower Pembina River between North Dakota and Manitoba is a longstanding unresolved problem. PRBAB (Pembina River Basin Advisory Board) requested the help of IRRB, which formed a Study Team. Its investigations found three potential components to any lower Pembina flooding solution: (1) flood-proofing urban centres and rural buildings to the 100-year flood protection level; (2) installing, after detailed hydraulic modeling, set-back levees along the Pembinia River; and (3) adjusting openings in the road-dike, to County Road 55, and to drainage systems to accommodate natural flows. Additionally, the Study Team concluded that: (1) flood control storage is infeasible; (2) any protection program should be locally, economically, environmentally, and in terms of engineering acceptable; (3) raising the road-dike in the Red River overflow area only further constrains breakout flows, thereby potentially affecting Pembina’s flood protection level; (4) the effect of upstream urban flood mitigation works on water levels downstream is negligible; (5) Pembina currently has 100-year flood protection provided the levee is maintained; (6) flood-proofing in the lower Pembina basin (N. Dakota) needs improvement; (7) agricultural impacts of Pembina flooding are more often due to protracted spring runoff than to summer rain storms, meaning set-back levees would constrain summer breakout flows but not prevent damages from heavy rains; and (8) these factors, and the effects of mitigation measures, can all be examined through a detailed hydrodynamic model. The Team recommends that: (1) the PRBAB liaising with IRRB review this report and develop a position; (2) IRRB facilitate a process to determine subsequent steps in resolving this problem; (3) government agencies responsible to this geographic area continue to fund identified programs and studies; (4) IRRB lend its support to a USACE planning study to define solution details; (5) relevant agencies be prepared to participate in such a study and to fund solutions; and (6) flood-hardened lower basin residents cooperate with responsible agencies.

12th Biennial Report on the Great Lakes Water Quality (CD English and French)
International Joint Commission - Commission mixte internationale
2004/09/01

The International Joint Commission (IJC)’s Twelfth Biennial Report focuses on the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement’s (GLWQA) stated purpose, to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem (GLBE). The IJC aims to assess progress and assist governments. The Agreement Parties (the U.S. and Canadian governments) must perform a comprehensive review of the Agreement after every third IJC biennial report; the Twelfth marks the beginning of the next review process. The IJC finds the Parties have made progress on implementing best management practices to accommodate the growing pressure of urbanization in the GLBE. Coordinated research has established better understanding of Lake Erie’s ecological dynamic. Many toxic chemical releases have declined. Yet natural habitat continues to be lost. Aquatic alien invasive species (AIS) are still introduced at a rate of one every eight months, via ocean-going vessels, bait or aquarium fish, aquaculture, or connecting tributaries. Human health is threatened by pathogens, disease-bearing microorganisms, and mercury contamination. Understanding of neuro-developmental effects associated with methyl mercury and PCBs requires epidemiological studies in affected areas of concern. Fish consumption advisories must be clear and consistent. Reducing mercury deposition in its reactive gaseous form requires implementation of local and global programs. The IJC recommends specific binational actions to address urban land use impacts. All levels of government should coordinate planning to protect drinking water from increased pressures from industry, urban expansion, aging infrastructure, and large-scale agriculture. The United States should pass the National Aquatic Invasive Species Act, and Canada should implement the National Action Plan on AIS. Both should ratify the International Maritime Organization’s Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments. They should issue a joint Reference to the IJC regarding AIS, and continue to fund binational research on Lake Erie.

Then and Now: Aquatic Alien Invasive Species and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Ecosystem
International Joint Commission & the Great Lakes Fishery Commission
2004/09/01

In 1988, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) and the IJC alerted Canadian and U.S. governments that aquatic alien invasive species (AIS) pose a significant threat to the Great Lakes. They urged government and the Coast Guards to take steps to end the ongoing introduction of exotic organisms via ballast water discharge. Recognizing the limited understanding of AIS, the commissions issued a study entitled Exotic Species and the Shipping Industry: The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Ecosystem at Risk. Threats continue to emerge from vectors other than ballast: canals, aquaculture escapement, release of bait, aquarium fish, and live fish sold for human consumption. Since the 1980s, seventeen AIS have invaded the Great Lakes, and fifteen more are identified as high risk for potential introduction. This fold-out poster reviews relevant progress. It outlines the evolution of regulations from voluntary guidelines to comprehensive legislative Acts in the U.S. (NANPCA, NISA, NAISA), first focusing on balance and later expanding regulation to all AIS vectors. Canada has no similar legislation, save for requiring mandatory ballast practices. Research has included examination of filtration technologies, identification of Ponto-Caspian species, the Great Lakes NOBOB Assessment Study, and advances in ballast water testing. Funding is essential for research to test ballast treatment techniques, to develop tools to detect and trace AIS. The report outlines international practices, guidelines, and forums that have instigated cooperation on water management issues. The U.S. and Canada should ratify and surpass the Convention for the Control and Management of Ship’s Ballast Water and Sediments. Actions taken to prevent AIS from entering through alternate vectors include erection of electric fish dispersal barriers on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal; adoption in Canada of a National Code on Introductions and Transfers of Aquatic Organisms; prohibition of the sale/transport of dangerous AIS in a number of municipalities, states, and Ontario; and U.S. Executive Orders to improve interagency coordination on tackling AIS. A timeline superimposed over a satellite map of the Great Lakes basin outlines major landmarks and publications regarding AIS, dating from 1830, when sea lamprey were first observed in the lower Great Lakes, to the present.

Protection of the Waters of the Great Lakes - Review of the Recommendations in the February 2000 Report
International Joint Commission - Commission mixte internationale
2004/08/01

In 2004, the International Joint Commission was requested by the governments of Canada and the United States to review the recommendations outlined in its February 2000 report Protection of the Waters of the Great Lakes. In that report, the Commission investigated water consumption with regard to the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin, the impact of diversions and water removal, and the effectiveness of current laws and regulations concerning sustainability. Since that report, improvements have already been made in the form of amendments to the Boundary Waters Treaty, Water Resources Development Act, and the Great Lakes Charter regarding water removal from the basin and decision-making standards between all levels of government. In this review, the Commission acknowledges the increasing demand for diversions by U.S. communities near the basin that lack direct access. Future diversions risk groundwater depletion, which would cause reduced water quality, dewatering of tributaries, and habitat destruction; thus, the Commission encourages compliance with its February 2000 recommendations while both governments develop water management regimes concerning these demands. The Commission also reaffirms that there is no threat to the basin’s water supply from international trade law and continues to recommend allaying public concerns about this issue. Work is still required to coordinate and implement water conservation measures set out in the Commission’s previous report; the Commission encourages careful examination of its recommendations, recommitment to their implementation, and international cooperation in order to sustain future water supplies.