International Joint Commission
Public Consultation Sessions on
St. Mary and Milk Rivers Water Apportionment
Basic Fact Sheet
What is the International Joint Commission?
The International Joint Commission prevents and resolves disputes between the United States of America and Canada under the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty and pursues the common good of both countries as an independent and objective adviser to the two governments.
It is comprised of six commissioners – three appointed by the President of the United States, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and three appointed by the Canadian Governor-in-Council on advice of the Prime Minister.
What does the IJC do?
The Commission investigates and provides advice on transboundary water and other environmental issues referred to it by the Canadian and U.S. governments; it rules upon applications for approval of projects affecting boundary and transboundary waters and may regulate the operation of these projects; in particular in this regard it oversees the apportionment of the St. Mary and Milk Rivers; and it alerts the governments to emerging issues along the boundary that may give rise to bilateral disputes.
Why is the IJC interested in the St. Mary and Milk Rivers?
Use of the St. Mary and Milk Rivers was one of the disputes that led to the negotiation of the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty. Article VI of the treaty provides for apportionment of these two rivers to be made by two accredited officers – one Canadian and one American, under the direction of the IJC. Today, officials of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Water Survey Division of Environment Canada act as the Accredited Officers, reporting to the IJC on the measurement and allotment of St. Mary and Milk River water each year. The procedures now in use were established in 1921, under an Order issued by the IJC (referred to as the 1921 Order or the St. Mary-Milk Order).
Why did the IJC hold public consultations on the St. Mary and Milk Rivers in July 2004?
In 2003, the State of Montana asked the IJC to reopen the order which provides the basis for the procedures used by the Accredited Officers to measure and apportion water from the two rivers in accordance with the 1921 Order, and determine whether or not the procedures need to be revised. The IJC is considering how to respond to that request. As part of that process, the IJC wanted to improve its understanding of current issues and concerns surrounding the use of St. Mary and Milk River water.
Can I get copies of the Boundary Waters Treaty and the 1921 Order?
Yes. These and other documents are available on the "Accredited Officers" page under "Boards" at the IJC's Web site, www.ijc.org.
I could not attend any of the meetings. Is there any other way I can still tell the IJC about my concerns?
Yes. Though the written comment period has closed, the IJC will consider written comments received at any time until it makes a final decision. Comments should be sent to either the Ottawa or Washington offices:
Secretary, Canadian Section
234 Laurier Avenue West, 22nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6K6
Fax: (613) 993-5583
Voice : (613) 995-2984
Secretary, United States Section
1250 23rd Street NW, Suite 100
Washington, DC 20440
Fax: (202) 467-0746
Voice: (202) 736-9000
What will the IJC do with the information it gathered?
All of the information and views that the IJC gathered at the public consultation sessions and in written form will be taken into consideration by the Commissioners as they think about how to respond to Montana's request for a review of the IJC's 1921 Order.
How can I review the public record of comments?
All written comments received by mail, or submitted at the public consultation sessions, have been posted on the "Accredited Officers" page under "Boards" at the IJC's Web site, www.ijc.org.
How can I receive updates from on the IJC?
We will notify all who signed in at the consultation sessions and who have written to us regarding any actions taken by the IJC. You can also subscribe to IJC Announce, an email service that provides regular updates on IJC activities. To subscribe, send a request by email to either IJC Section Office listed above. You may also ask either IJC Section Office to notify you by regular mail.