International Joint Commission
Summer 2001
Volume 26, Issue 2

Canadian Commissioners appointed

On March 30, the Government of Canada appointed Ms. Mary Gusella , of Ontario, and Dr. Jack Blaney , of British Columbia, as Commissioners of the International Joint Commission (IJC). The Canadian Commissioners selected Ms. Gusella to serve as chair of the Canadian Section.

Ms. Gusella joined the federal public service in 1971 and has served in a number of senior positions, including Deputy Minister for the Leadership Network, Commissioner of the Public Service Commission of Canada, President of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Chair and President of Enterprise Cape Breton, Deputy Minister of Multiculturalism and Citizenship Canada, Associate Under Secretary of State, and Assistant Secretary of the Cabinet (communications) in the Privy Council Office.

In over 30 years of senior administration in post-secondary education, Dr. Jack Blaney worked with colleagues to extend degree completion opportunities to adults throughout British Columbia; created liberal arts, public affairs and professional continuing education programs; established the Simon Fraser University downtown campus and Centre for Dialogue; and headed one of Canada's premier universities. He also has worked with institutional partners to help make the overall higher education system work well for the citizens of British Columbia.

The IJC wishes former Canadian Section Chairman Leonard Legault and Commissioner Frank Murphy well and thanks them for their service.

Join us in Montréal at the

Public Forum on Great Lakes~St. Lawrence Water Quality September 14-15, 2001!

Workshop on air deposition of mercury to be held at Montréal Public Forum

Did you know that over 1,100 kilograms (2,400 pounds) of mercury are deposited into Lake Michigan annually from the atmosphere – 86 percent of the total loading! And that coal burning power plants and other fossil fuels are responsible for over one half of mercury emissions in the United States. Municipal and medical waste incineration make up close to 40 percent of U.S. emissions.

Air deposition of toxic chemicals, such as mercury, to the Great Lakes is now established as a major source of pollution, and one that is very difficult to control.

To review the state of the science and move the policy discussion forward, the IJC's International Air Quality Advisory Board and the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation will join together in Montréal, during the Public Forum on Great Lakes Water Quality, for a workshop, Addressing Atmospheric Mercury: Science and Policy .

This workshop will be of interest to a broad scope of participants, including policy makers, scientists and others. In addition to summarizing the harmful impact of mercury on the ecosystem, particularly human health, the workshop will review information on regional, continental and global sources of mercury, including U.S., Canadian and Mexican emissions inventories. A portion of the day will include presentations by leading modelers on their efforts to link these sources to deposition in the Great Lakes and other bodies of water. The workshop will conclude with a discussion of the policy implications of the presented material.

The Public Forum will be held in Montréal, Québec on September 14-15, 2001. For more information, visit and click on "Montréal Public Forum."

Great Lakes Water Quality Board reports on alien invasive species

The Great Lakes are facing a biological invasion that can displace important native species, interfere with beneficial human water uses and cost billions of dollars to correct. Alien invasive species (AIS) are plants or animals that have been relocated accidently or intentionally from their original habitats to other, often-distant locations. Not all non-native species will adjust to their new locale, but many thrive and grow in the absence of their natural controls, such as predators, pathogens and environmental conditions.

In May 2001, the Great Lakes Water Quality Board released a white paper with recommendations for consideration by the International Joint Commission (IJC) to address the AIS problem. The board was asked by the IJC to review existing and other potential regulatory programs for attempting to control the introduction of AIS to the Great Lakes.

Sources of AIS to the Great Lakes basin include aquaculture, escapes from aquaria, ornamental ponds, research and educational facilities, canal and diversion water flows and releases of live bait. However, the single most significant source for alien invasive species in the Great Lakes is the discharge of ballast water from ships coming from outside the United States and Canada.

Regulations currently exist to guard against AIS. Vessels entering the Great Lakes region from outside the United States or Canada are required to exchange their ballast water outside the 200 nautical-mile zone in waters at least 2,000 metres deep.

Unfortunately, approximately 80 percent of vessels entering the Great Lakes basin report “no ballast on board” (NOBOB). This declaration exempts them from current ballast-water exchange requirements even though they may contain a significant quantity of unpumpable ballast water and sediment. Living organisms in the residual ballast water and sediment can be released into the Great Lakes – and potentially cause environmental and economic havoc – when these ships take on and release ballast water in the basin.

The board recommends ballast water standards be immediately developed, implemented and enforced throughout the Great Lakes region. The board believes it is necessary to take action and invest resources directed at developing effective water treatment technologies for addressing this problem over the long term. While development of long-term solutions must proceed as quickly as possible, the board recommends that short-term emergency measures be undertaken, including possible chemical treatment of ballast water. According to the board, it is essential for the federal governments to work alongside shippers and encourage modifications in the design of existing and future shipping vessels.

The white paper highlights the need to develop contingency plans for responding to accidental discharges or spills of untreated ballast water, as well as any new discovery of alien invasive species. Because no single solution will address the entire problem, the Great Lakes Water Quality Board stresses that a binational, preventative approach is the key for efficient and cost-effective solutions to reducing the impact of AIS in the Great Lakes.

The full text of the white paper is available at the following website:

Public group advises Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence Study

by Dalton Foster and Fred Parkinson

The International Joint Commission (IJC) recently initiated a five-year study of regulation of the water levels in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Since completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, the levels have been controlled with the primary objective of satisfying requirements of the hydropower industry, commercial navigation and riparians. For a number of years now, other people along the system, both individuals and associations, have made it known that their interests should also be incorporated into the regulation plan. Prime among their concerns are the environment, shoreline erosion, recreational boating and tourism.

Recognizing the diversity of views, the IJC set up a Public Interest Advisory Group (PIAG) to act as a contact organization between the public and the technical/scientific working groups actually carrying out the studies. Members of PIAG are all volunteers, and many have long been associated with efforts to review and possibly improve the manner in which the lake and river system is regulated.

The volunteers come from varied backgrounds and geographic areas. Some own businesses, some have scientific training, many are primarily concerned with the environment, and others are simply concerned residents. They come from the western extremes of Lake Ontario down to the lower St. Lawrence River in the east. They come from both Canada and the United States, 12 from each country.

The mission of the group is to serve as an active communications link between the public and both the IJC and the scientific/technical working groups. Classically, this has been a daunting task. In a recent issue of the journal Science, Sir Robert May, president of the Royal Society of London, discusses this challenge in an editorial entitled “Science and Society.” In this editorial he asks how best to conduct the dialogue, as old as democracy itself, between government policymakers and the public in complex scientific areas, in a manner that fosters trust.

Sir Robert offers advice. “Consult widely and get the best people; but also make sure that dissenting voices are heard; recognize and admit uncertainty; and above all, be open and publish all advice.”

These are not easy tasks. People's subjective outlooks greatly influence their perception of the information they receive and what they observe on the lake or river. We on the PIAG are aware that there are varied, and sometimes conflicting, views held by people within the system from different geographic areas and with different water level concerns. The PIAG will need to not only bridge the communications gap between the public and the IJC and scientific/technical groups, but also between the various areas and interests among the publics.

The PIAG has chosen two initial tasks. First, we have put together a general informational presentation package that we hope will better explain the scope of the study and what is to be done. This information will be presented in open, public meetings, in which the people are invited to take part in active question and answer sessions on their local situations. Secondly, and most importantly, we will be asking the public to fill in survey questionnaires describing how their experiences, both good and bad, are influenced by the water levels. We will bring this information back to the study process. At the end of the day, the results of the study should reflect the interests and real-world of the public.

Dalton Foster and Fred Parkinson are co-chairs of the Public Interest Advisory Group. If you would like to receive more information, or schedule a presentation in your area, please contact Amanda Morelli, the study public affairs representative, at (613) 992-5727.

Osoyoos Lake regulation responds to drought

Drought operations for Osoyoos Lake, which crosses the British Columbia-Washington boundary, were announced by the International Osoyoos Lake Board of Control in April. Drought operations will continue until October 31, 2001, unless conditions change and no longer meet the drought criteria in the orders of approval issued by the International Joint Commission.

During a drought, the orders allow Osoyoos Lake to be regulated between elevations 910.5 and 913.0 feet (U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey) from April through October in order to ensure an adequate water supply for irrigation. Normally the lake must be kept within a smaller range of 911.0-911.5 feet.

Progress made in the St. Lawrence River Area of Concern

In March, the International Joint Commission (IJC) held a public meeting and informal consultation in Cornwall, Ontario, to begin its status assessment of the St. Lawrence River Area of Concern (AOC). More than 60 people participated, including representatives from Environment Canada, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other government agencies and local organizations from both sides of the border.

Progress is being made in many areas. The Cornwall portion of the AOC is moving forward in the control of combined sewer overflows, fishery habitat enhancements and agricultural nonpoint source pollution prevention. An upgrade of Cornwall's sewage treatment plant is under consideration and a study is underway, assessing mercury contamination in the Cornwall waterfront area.

In May, the IJC's Science Advisory Board toured the superfund cleanup activities on the New York side of the river. The Alcoa East Plant has begun a large sediment remediation project totaling 60,000 to 75,000 cubic metres (80,000 to 100,000 cubic yards) of PCB contaminated sediment to be removed from the St. Lawrence River.

This is the fifth such assessment undertaken by the IJC. Status assessments examine progress, assess program implementation and make recommendations on specific activities to make measurable progress in restoring the area. They are not comprehensive environmental audits; instead, they assess ongoing efforts and activities of the local organizations and responsible governments. Through these assessments, the IJC facilitates constructive interaction among various agencies providing the opportunity to exchange ideas and advance the process toward restoration of the AOC.


IJC welcomes the recent appointments to its boards.

Brian Nixon
Director, Land Use and Policy
Ontario Ministry of Environment
Great Lakes Water Quality Board
Randy J. Jackiw
Director, Resources Management,
Agriculture and Rural Division
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs
Great Lakes Water Quality Board
Dr. Isobel Heathcoate, Chair
Dean of Graduate Studies
University of Guelph
Great Lakes Science Advisory Board
And we thank those who have finished their service.
Vic Shantora
Commission on Environmental Cooperation
Great Lakes Water Quality Board
Helle Tosine
Ontario Ministry of Energy and Environment
Great Lakes Water Quality Board
E. Tony Wagner
Consultant, formerly with Waterfront Regeneration Trust
Great Lakes Science Advisory Board


What's Happening

Public meetings of the IJC and its boards:

June 19, 2001

International St. Lawrence River Board of Control Public Meeting, Kingston, ON

June 27, 2001

Lake Superior Board 2001 Public Meeting, Port Severn, ON

September 13-14, 2001

Lake Ontario - St. Lawrence Study Board & public meetings, Montréal, PQ

September 13-15, 2001

Public Forum on Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River Water Quality , Montréal, PQ

September 19, 2001

Niagara Board of Control Public Meeting, Fort Erie, ON

Contact Us

The IJC is interested in your views on any of our activities. You may contact us in the following ways:

  United States
  Great Lakes Regional Office

Contacts   Murray Clamen
Fabien Lengellé
Public Affairs
  Gerald Galloway
Frank Bevacqua
Public Affairs
  Tom Behlen
Jennifer Day
Public Affairs


Mail   234 Laurier Avenue West
22nd Floor
Ottawa, ON
K1P 6K6
  1250 23rd Street NW
Suite 100
Washington, DC 20440
  100 Ouellette Avenue, 8th Floor
Windsor, ON
N9A 6T3
P.O. Box 32869
Detroit, MI 48232-2869

Fax   613.993.5583   202.467.7046   519.257-6740

Telephone   613.995.2984   202.736.9000   519.257.6700

Home Page


  Thomas Baldini,
U.S. Section Chair
Mary Gusella,
Canadian Section Chair

Robert Gourd

Jack Blaney


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 advisor to the two governments.