Lake ontario and the st. Lawrence river (loslr)
A New Path Forward
The International Joint Commission (IJC) is developing a potential new approach for managing water levels and flows in the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system. The system's current water regulation plan has become outdated. It is unable to deal with future conditions and has hurt the region's ecosystem. The IJC's proposed approach attempts to balance the region's many interests, and ensure it has a water regulation system that can address current and future challenges.
The Lake Ontario/St. Lawrence River basin incorporates two nations, two provinces, one state, First Nations and hundreds of communities. The basin is home to nearly 12 million people, including home owners, boaters, fishers, hunters and business owners. At the same time, the lake, upper river, and lower river support a variety of interests including shoreline communities, commercial navigation, recreational boating, environmental, hydroelectric power, and municipal water uses.
The IJC is the binational organization established in 1909 to help Canada and the United States manage the waters shared by the two countries in a cooperative manner. In 1952, the IJC approved an application from the two federal governments to construct a hydropower project in the international section of the St. Lawrence River that provided some ability to regulate water levels on Lake Ontario and the river. Since 1963, the IJC has relied on the same water regulation plan to provide some control over the water levels in the basin. But that plan is now nearly fifty years old. It is based on water conditions of the last century, has no regard for environmental consequences and no process for adapting to possible future challenges such as bigger storms, more severe droughts and increasing effects of climate change.
Today, the IJC is examining a new approach to managing water levels and flows on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. This approach is based on scientific studies, public feedback and a desire to help restore the region's wetlands, which have deteriorated under the current approach. Balancing the basin's many needs and interests is not simple, but the IJC is committed to ensuring that all interests receive full consideration.