International Joint Commission
Winter 2001
Volume 26, Issue 3


Montréal! The 2001 Public Forum on Great Lakes -
St. Lawrence Water Quality

It has been said by many over the past few months that since the tragic events of September 11, 2001 — “things will never be the same again.” This is not only true for the citizens of the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence basin, but for the management of the resource as well.

More than 300 people traveled to Montréal for the 2001 Public Forum on Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Water Quality. Originally planned to begin on September 14, the meeting was rescheduled and held on October 19 and 20. In many ways the meeting, topics of discussion and comment were similar to past meetings and reflected the needs and ongoing efforts to fulfill the promise of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. In other ways it was different, because the lens through which we now view the world is different, and the expression of concerns for the health and security of the Great Lakes was reflected in this new light.

This was made clear by the tone set during the plenary meeting on Saturday, by both the governments during their remarks and by citizens in their testimony. What was made clear is that the citizen's of the Great Lakes basin cannot be and are not complacent. We still have much work to do before we can, without qualification, answer 'yes' to the four questions that have become the theme for Great Lakes cleanup.

  • Are Great Lakes fish safe to eat?
  • Are the beaches safe for swimming?
  • Do the lakes provide a healthy natural environment for people and wildlife?
  • Do the lakes continue to provide a safe source of drinking water?

These four questions don't cover the full complexity of the issues facing the basin, but they are strong general indicators of the overall health and integrity of the Great Lakes and are of importance to the basin.

However, a new spin on a current issue was a main topic of conversation, and that is the issue of drinking water safety. “Is the water safe to drink?” has been an ongoing question of many and has focused primarily on the quality of source water and compliance with standards for microbial and chemical contaminants. However, the events and aftermath of September 11 have immediately and drastically added another dimension to this question -- the fundamental security of our drinking water systems from other threats.

Leading up to and providing context for the plenary discussions of Saturday were the workshops held on Friday. Although the exact schedule of workshops and their agendas of speakers could not be duplicated, and indeed were still being finalized on Friday morning, workshops on RAPs, ZIPs and LaMPs: Addressing the Threat to Community and Ecosystem Health; Reducing Toxics in Urban Sewage; Fluctuating Water Levels and Navigation on the St. Lawrence River; Indicators for the Stewardship of the Great Lakes; Source Water Protection; and Traditional Ecological Knowledge were held. The days events were followed by a reception, hosted by the city of Montréal, for all Forum attendees at City Hall located in historic old Montréal.

The 1999-2001 Priorities and Progress Under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement , which includes reports from the IJC's Water Quality Board, Science Advisory Board, International Air Quality Advisory Board and Council of Great Lakes Research Managers, highlights trends and developments related to the health of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem and its inhabitants. The report is currently available in both French and English on the IJC's web site and is also available in hard copy. To request a copy, send your name and address to the IJC's Great Lakes Regional Office or e-mail us with the specific name of the report to commission@windsor.org .

Transcripts and presentations from meeting workshops, government presentations, photos and citizen testimony are available on the IJC's website at: http://www.ijc.org . Click on the Montréal Public Forum button.




High Water Levels in Rainy-Namakan Basin Raise Concerns

Heavy rainfall this spring and summer caused water levels to rise rapidly on Rainy and Namakan lakes, which lie along the Minnesota-Ontario border, and downstream on the Lake of the Woods, which also extends into Manitoba. High water levels submerged docks and flooded shoreline areas, prompting concerns by residents over water management.

The outflows from Rainy and Namakan lakes are regulated by the IJC with the assistance of its International Rainy Lake Board of Control. Representatives from the IJC and its Board of Control made a presentation and answered questions at a meeting in August in International Falls, Minnesota, hosted by Koochiching County Commissioners. In November, the IJC convened a public meeting in International Falls to discuss this year's high water, as well as the proposed amalgamation of its International Rainy Lake Board of Control and International Rainy River Pollution Board.

The International Rainy Lake Board of Control has prepared a report assessing the high water situation and makes recommendations. It is available on the Board's website at: http://www.ijc.org/rel/boards/rainylake/20010607_e.pdf




IJC Alerts Governments to Fishery Dispute

A potential dispute could arise over managing the fishery in the St. Croix River, which flows between Maine and New Brunswick, according to a June 14, 2001 letter from the IJC to the governments of Canada and the United States.

Alewives are a native fish in the St. Croix River that serve as a food source for other species in the river and on nearby land. However, guides in the lakes of the upper St. Croix River system view the alewives as a threat to the smallmouth bass fishery. Bass are not native to the St. Croix River, but they have become a popular sport fish.

In 1995, Maine enacted a law to block alewives from passing upstream through the fishways built on the U.S. side of two dams that lie across the St. Croix River. In 2000, the St. Croix Fisheries Steering Committee, made up of representatives from U.S. and Canadian federal, state and provincial fishery management agencies, developed a management plan for alewives and smallmouth bass that would permit controlled access of alewives through one of the dams.

Early in 2001, the Maine agencies drafted a bill to rescind the 1995 legislation. In May, the bill was defeated in the Maine House of Representatives, it passed in the Maine Senate, and but was again defeated after being reintroduced in the House. The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans has subsequently trapped alewives and transported them above the dams by truck.

In exercising its alerting role, the IJC stated it wished to draw the attention of governments to these recent developments and that it is prepared to assist in resolving this potential boundary waters dispute.




Plan Proposed for Upper Great Lakes Study

Following a series of public meetings in summer 2001, the IJC appointed an Upper Great Lakes Plan of Study Team to prepare a plan for reviewing the regulation of the flow of water out of Lake Superior.

Outflows from Lake Superior, which are regulated by the IJC, affect a variety of interests including the environment in the Upper Great Lakes system from Lake Superior downstream through Lake Erie. The review would assess whether changes to regulation are warranted to meet current and emerging needs for managing the system in a sustainable manner, including management under climate change scenarios.

The Plan of Study Team prepared a draft Plan of Study and held public meetings to receive comment this past fall. The team intends to provide a final Plan of Study to the IJC in January 2002. The actual studies would begin fall of 2002, if funds are appropriated in the United States and Canada.

For more information, including the draft Plan of Study, visit the Plan of Study Team website at: http://www.ijc.org/conseil_board/upper_greatlakes/en/upper_home_accueil.htm .




An Introduction from the New Director



Dr. Gail Krantzberg

I am excited and honoured to take on the challenge of running the IJC's Great Lakes Regional Office in Windsor. The staff are fiercely dedicated to making the lakes great and it will be a challenge and pleasure to advance that cause. I have degrees from McGill University in Montréal and completed my Ph.D. at the University of Toronto on contaminant cycling and ecological effects. Since the late 1980s, I have worked for the Ontario Ministry of the Environment as an ecotoxicologist, sediment specialist and senior policy advisor on Great Lakes priorities. As some of you may recall, I had the honour of coordinating the development and implementation of the Collingwood Harbor Remedial Action Plan, delisted in 1994.

I am not new to the IJC having served the Commission on the Great Lakes Water Quality Board, Sediment Priority Action Committee, Indicator Implementation Task Force and Council of Great Lakes Research Managers.

I believe that these are formidable times for our Great Lakes. The integrity of the ecosystem is sharply challenged by the massive loss of habitat, unplanned growth, continued invasion of exotic species and the cycling of toxic chemicals. Some stressors, such as climate change and long range transport of toxic chemicals, need solutions that extend beyond the local or regional level.

One challenge the IJC faces is stimulating inter-organizational programs to provide the fabric within which site-specific actions and regional coordination can be cultivated. The dedication of those involved in cleaning up and protecting the lakes is clear — as is the level of frustration. It is the majesty of the lakes that will be the virtue that sustains the power of all of us who fight to ensure we can all live and grow in this awesome place.




Gerald E. Galloway

In October, Gerald E. Galloway, secretary of the IJC's U.S. Section, was presented with the Government Civil Engineer of the Year Award by the American Society of Civil Engineers to recognize his many outstanding contributions to engineering and public service, particularly in the fields of water and floodplain management.




People

IJC welcomes the recent appointments to its boards.

Peggy Farnsworth
Director, Transboundary Air Issues Branch
Environment Canada, Ottawa
International Air Quality Advisory Board
Dr. Robert Lent
District Chief, U.S. Geological Survey
Augusta, Maine
International St. Croix River Board
Donald Porteous
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 1
Office of Environmental Measurement and Evaluation
International St. Croix River Board
Dr. William J. Meades
Program Director of Forest Ecology
Great Lakes Forestry Centre, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Council of Great Lakes Research Managers
John Mills , Canadian Co-Chair
Director of the Ontario Region,
Environment Canada
Great Lakes Water Quality Board
Dr. John Carey
Executive Director, National Water Research Institute
Canada Centre for Inland Waters
Great Lakes Water Quality Board
Dale Frink , U.S. Co-Chair
State Engineer, North Dakota State Water Commission
International Souris River Board
Dr. Steven Renzetti
Director, Environmental Economics Program
Associate Professor, Department of Economics
Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario
Int. Lake Ontario St. Lawrence River Study Board
Brigadier General Steven R. Hawkins
Commander, Great Lakes and Ohio River Division
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
International Lake Superior Board of Control
International Niagara Board of Control
Int. St. Lawrence River Board of Control
Colonel Robert L. Ball
Commander and District Engineer
St. Paul District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
International Red River Board
International Souris River Board
Int. Lake of the Woods Board of Control
Int. Rainy Lake Board of Control
Doug Brown
Manager of Water Issues
Ontario Region, Environment Canada
Int. Lake of the Woods Board of Control
Int. Rainy Lake Board of Control
Kathy Svanda
Environmental Health Division
Minnesota Department of Health
Int. Rainy River Pollution Board
John Merriman
Environmental Conservation Branch
Environment Canada
Int. Rainy River Pollution Board
Dr. William Darby
District Manager, Fort Frances District
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Int. Rainy River Pollution Board
Terence Shortt
Environmental Science Division,
Central and Arctic Region
Department of Fisheries and Oceans
International Red River Board
And we thank those who have finished their service.
Thomas P. Behlen
Director, IJC Great Lakes Regional Office
 
Wayne Draper International Air Quality Advisory Board
Ray Thompson
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 1
International St. Croix River Board
Brigadier General Robert H. Griffin
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
International Lake Superior Board of Control
International Niagara Board of Control
Int. St. Lawrence River Board of Control
Colonel Kenneth S. Kasprisin
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
International Red River Board
International Souris River Board
Int. Lake of the Woods Board of Control
Int. Rainy Lake Board of Control
Dale Kimmett
Environment Canada
Int. Lake of the Woods Board of Control
Int. Rainy Lake Board of Control

 



Hot Off the Press

For the full text of IJC reports, click on the publications button at www.ijc.org or go to the specific web site below. Limited numbers of hard copies are also available from the IJC at (519)257-6734 in Canada, (313)226-2170 ext. 6734 in the United States, and commission@windsor.ijc.org by email.

1999-2001 Priorities and Progress Under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement is a compilation of the work of IJC advisory boards. It is currently available on the Internet and in hard copy. http://www.ijc.org/php/publications/html/pr9901.html .




Contact Us

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



    Canadian
Section
  United States
Section
  Great Lakes Regional Office

Contacts   Murray Clamen
Secretary
Fabien Lengellé
Public Affairs
  Gerald Galloway
Secretary
Frank Bevacqua
Public Affairs
  Dr. Gail Krantzberg
Director
Jennifer Day
Public Affairs

Email   Commission@ottawa.ijc.org   Commission@washington.ijc.org   Commission@windsor.ijc.org

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
or
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
or
313.226.2170

Home Page www.ijc.org



Commissioners



       
  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.