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


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IJC admin | 2016/05/16

Read IJC’s newsletters to stay current on how Canada and the United States are working together to manage the health and flow of the waters shared by our two countries. Read More »

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Wetland Monitoring on the Horizon for Great Lakes Adaptive Management

IJC admin | 2016/03/17

Adaptive management is nothing new. Canada and the United States have asked the IJC to evaluate fluctuations in levels and flows in the Great Lakes periodically over the last half century. Read More »

Canada, US Set Lake Erie Algae Reduction Targets: What Happens Next?

IJC admin | 2016/03/15

Canadian and U.S. government agencies, and the IJC, are on the same page when it comes to phosphorus reduction targets needed to restore Lake Erie. Read More »

Don’t Read the 2015 Annual Activities Report (Until You Take This Quiz)

IJC admin | 2016/03/11

Some people can’t remember what they had for lunch yesterday. How well do you remember what the IJC was up to in 2015? Have no fear, we wrote it down. We’ve released our 2015 Annual Activities Report, summing up events and projects from last year. You may have forgotten some things, and be surprised to learn about others. Read More »

All Eyes on Rainy-Lake of the Woods: Water Quality, Rule Curves Highlight 2016 Forum

IJC admin | 2016/03/07

More than 140 researchers and resource managers are expected to pack the 13th annual International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Forum in International Falls, Minnesota. This year’s Forum will focus on priority issues of the IJC’s Lake of the Woods Basin Water Quality Plan of Study as well as the review of water level regulation for Rainy and Namakan lakes by the International Rainy and Namakan Lakes Rule Curves Study Board, which is inviting comments on its Study Strategy until March 21. Read More »

Microbeads - Legislative Update

IJC admin | 2016/03/01

In a time of often overwhelming environmental challenges, the fight against microplastics pollution in the Great Lakes appears to be auspicious. The rapid turnaround between the first research on microplastics pollution in the Great Lakes in 2012 and recent state, provincial and federal bans on the manufacture and sale of products containing microbeads has been impressive. Read More »

Consumer Decisions Can Curb Microbead Pollution

IJC admin | 2016/02/25

Concerned citizens can help decrease the amount of microplastics entering the Great Lakes. It starts with paying attention to microbeads in personal care products. Read More »

History and Evolution of the Microbead

IJC admin | 2016/02/22

Considering the ubiquity of plastic in today’s society, it’s difficult to realize how recently the mass production of plastics began. The initial commercial development of thermoplastics such as polyvinyl chloride, low-density polyethylene, polystyrene and polymethyl methacrylate began with the advent of World War II in 1939. Natural rubber was in short supply and extensive research was completed to develop synthetic alternatives. Large-scale production of polyethylenes in the late 1970s reduced their costs dramatically, and new applications were discovered – from cars to personal care products. Read More »

Tiny Plastics Inflict Huge Environmental and Human Health Impact

IJC admin | 2016/02/16

Microbeads are one way to clean your face, body and teeth and pollute the Great Lakes at the same time. Thankfully, there are alternatives. Read More »

Looking ahead at 2016

IJC admin | 2016/02/04

Much activity is on the horizon for 2016 along U.S.-Canadian shared waters. Here are highlights of what’s in store. Read More »

Can Expert Surveys Help Assess Great Lakes Water Quality? Comments Requested

IJC admin | 2016/02/03

Under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the Commission is charged with reporting on the extent to which government programs are improving Great Lakes water quality. A Commission consultant recently tested one potential tool for assessing the impact of government programs on Great Lakes water quality. In 2015, a team of researchers from the Great Lakes Policy Research Network, in partnership with the IJC, surveyed experts to solicit their views. One purpose was to discern whether such a survey could contribute to the Commission’s upcoming Assessment of Progress Report. Until March 4, the IJC is seeking comments on the report and the potential application of its findings. Read More »

Minnesota, North Dakota, Manitoba Coordinating Red River Nutrient Management Strategies

IJC admin | 2016/01/29

Excessive nutrients flow to the Red River from tributaries in North Dakota, Minnesota and Manitoba. So it seems reasonable that reductions should come from all three jurisdictions. In the spirit of cooperation, Minnesota has developed a nutrient reduction strategy, and North Dakota and Manitoba are developing their own plans. Read More »

Keeping the Plug in the Great Lakes Tub

IJC admin | 2016/01/19

The IJC has just completed its second review of progress. Formally submitted to governments in January 2016, the report describes efforts to protect the Great Lakes from consumptive uses, diversions and exports and calls the findings “for the most part a good news story.” Read More »

IJC’s Greatest Hits of 2015

IJC admin | 2016/01/08 received more than a quarter million hits last year. Some pages that were visited the most are highlighted here, along with a few notable shares from our social media channels. Which ones did you read? Which ones did you miss? Let’s drop the ball … Read More »

Plan of Study Yields Innovative Forecasting Products for Lake Champlain-Richelieu River Basin

IJC admin | 2015/12/22

The Lake Champlain-Richelieu River basin straddles the United States and Canada between Vermont, New York and Quebec. There have been numerous floods in the basin, but work is ongoing to develop an operational real-time flood forecasting and flood inundation mapping system. Read More »

Like a Shark: Algae Eats Money in Lake Erie


What’s the economic cost of Lake Erie Harmful Algal Blooms, also called HABs? That’s one question the IJC sought to answer in its latest report on the Lake Erie Ecosystem Priority (LEEP). In other words, what’s the value of avoiding the harm of future Harmful Algal Blooms, from ecosystem health to human activities like recreation and commercial fishing? Read More »

Reducing Great Lakes Mercury Contamination: Regional Efforts May Not Be Enough

IJC admin | 2015/12/08

The term “toxic pollution” may bring to mind images of a local drainage pipe dumping discolored wastewater and chemicals into an otherwise picturesque river or stream. However, scientists for some time have understood that toxic pollution also can be airborne, and released on distant continents before traveling thousands of miles and kilometers through the atmosphere and landing in the Great Lakes basin. Read More »

Dramatic Algal Blooms in Lake of the Woods Call for Dramatic Action

IJC admin | 2015/12/01

The view from space tells a dramatic story – Lake of the Woods was plagued with exceptionally bad outbreaks of blue-green algae again this summer and fall, underlining the need for governments to fund and move forward with the Lake of the Woods Basin Water Quality Plan of Study through the International Joint Commission. Read More »

Drought of 2015 Provides Lessons for Future Water Management - Part 1 of 2

IJC admin | 2015/11/30

Sue McKortoff is upfront about how she’s conserving water. The mayor of Osoyoos has embarrassed her kids by declaring publicly she doesn’t take showers every day. And when she does, she bathes for only three minutes. Read More »

Drought of 2015 Provides Lessons for Future Water Management - Part 2 of 2

IJC admin | 2015/11/30

The year 2015 created some unusual water management challenges for the International Osoyoos Lake Board of Control, which sets maximum and minimum water level limits in the transboundary lake in accordance with the IJC’s Order of Approval for Zosel Dam. Read More »

Lessons Learned in the Credit River: Reconnecting the Water Cycle for our Greater Lakes

IJC admin | 2015/11/10

Real-time monitoring of the Credit River has found that urban stormwater is contributing two times more phosphorus to the nearshore than the two wastewater treatment plants within Credit Valley Conservation’s jurisdiction. This highlights the need to integrate water, wastewater and stormwater management decisions to optimize infrastructure investment. Read More »

Great Lakes Stories: New Bureau of Detroit Public TV Expands Coverage

IJC admin | 2015/11/02

The Great Lakes are filled with great stories, and Detroit Public Television – through its new Great Lakes Bureau – is anxious to begin telling them. Read More »

People Love the Great Lakes Because …

IJC admin | 2015/10/23

The results are still coming in, but Jamie Cross, Adopt-a-Beach Program manager for the Alliance for the Great Lakes, says the cleanup is on track to be as successful as last year’s. That event saw some 7,343 volunteers pick up 25,251 pounds of trash from 277 shoreline locations in five Great Lakes states. Read More »

Reflections on Renewing Greatness for Great Lakes Restoration and Protection

IJC admin | 2015/10/16

The work of Great Lakes protection and restoration is influenced by the confluence of people and businesses that call this region home and recognize the unparalleled gift of the glaciers to our pursuit of happiness. Collectively we agree on the importance of protecting the Lakes. Important progress has been achieved. And much is left to do to deliver the promise of sustaining the integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes. Read More »

Great Lakes Needs Guardians (Funding Available)

IJC admin | 2015/10/07

For the fourth year, the Ontario government is offering $1.5 million in grants to community groups through the Great Lakes Guardian Community Fund. The program aims to create guardians of the Great Lakes --- people who will be engaged throughout their lifetime and in generations to come. Read More »

Using Social Media to Monitor Water Quality and Public Health

IJC admin | 2015/10/02

In most cases, people are smart enough to stay away from polluted water. They may be itching, however, to tell other people about it. Dr. Matthew Keifer, a member of the IJC’s Health Professionals Advisory Board (HPAB), says social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are some of the first places people turn when they want to share and find information on public health topics. “The best way to take the temperature of society in those areas is to look at what people are talking about,” Keifer said. Read More »