Speak now or forever hold your peace
by Commissioners Irene Brooks and Robert Gourd
Credit/photo : North Country Public Radio
After nearly five years of intense work, our International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Study Board will make some decisions of real consequence to the people who live and work on these waters.
Different plans for regulating water levels and flows on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River are now being tested so that the study board can identify the three best options. Performance indicators are being used to evaluate how each regulation plan affects social and economic interests such as, shoreline communities, including First Nation and Native American communities, boaters, shippers, hydropower companies and the environment.
We have been highly impressed by the dedication of the nearly 300 study participants who have kept their eyes on the greater good while dealing with the complexity of the study issues. The Public Interest Advisory Group (PIAG) has worked tirelessly to facilitate communication between the study groups and citizens who will live with the outcome of the study. On behalf of all the Commissioners, we wish to thank the study board, PIAG and other study participants.
Before the final report to the IJC is written, the study board and PIAG will hold nearly 20 public meetings around the basin this June and July, beginning with a session at the IJC’s Biennial Meeting in Kingston, Ontario. Details for this final round of public meetings can be found on the study website at www.losl.org.
If you have an interest, it is vitally important that you come to these meetings to understand the decisions that will be made at the end of the study and to make your views known. While the IJC Commissioners will ultimately decide on any changes to the regulation of Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River water levels and flows, we will rely on the technical work of the Study Board. The opportunity to help shape your future is now.
2005 Great Lakes Conference and Biennial Meeting: A Watershed Event
by The Right Hon. Herb Gray and Hon. Dennis Schornack, IJC co-chairs
What is a watershed? One definition is all lands drained by a river or stream and its tributaries. Another is an event marking an important historical change of course, or one on which important developments depend. The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA), first signed in 1972, was a watershed in the history of Canada and the United States.
This year, the Great Lakes Conference and Biennial Meeting, to be held June 9-11 in Kingston, Ontario has the potential to be a watershed event. Kingston was also the setting for an International Joint Commission (IJC) Biennial Meeting in 1985 that generated considerable input for the review of the GLWQA undertaken at the time by the two federal governments. While the governments are required to review the GLWQA every six years, this was the last review that resulted in changes to the agreement. The ecological initiatives inaugurated by the governments, including Remedial Action Plans and Lakewide Management plans to restore beneficial uses in our Great Lakes, truly marked a watershed moment for our big waters.
Now 20 years later, the federal governments have signaled their intent to conduct a new, substantive review of the GLWQA. Our Biennial Meeting in June will provide ample opportunity for public discussion, dialogue and testimony on the GLWQA’s future. Everything you need to register online can be found at www.ijc.org and details for presenting papers at the breakout sessions are provided below. We strongly encourage you to participate and make this a watershed event!
Call for Papers
Discussion breakout sessions at the Biennial Meeting on June 10-11 will explore different aspects of this review and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA). The material used for discussion and debate will come from you. This is a special call for you to share your views on the GLWQA, its review and your vision for the Great Lakes with your colleagues and others throughout the region. To contribute follow three easy steps:
- Log on to www.ijc.org and register for the 2005 Biennial Meeting.
- From the IJC home page, click on “Call for Papers” or click here and submit an abstract of your proposed presentation by April 15, 2005 to be considered as a presenter.
- Prepare your written paper, a 15-minute oral presentation, and we’ll see you in Kingston.
You may submit abstracts under one or more of the following presentation categories.
Adaptive Management and the Future of the Agreement: What do you believe are priority stressors that must be addressed to protect the Great Lakes? What is the relationship between the priority stressors and the current GLWQA? What are the opportunities to accommodate these stressors in the current or future GLWQA? Stressors include, by way of example, land use, climate change, emerging chemicals, new pathogens and alien invasive species.
Vision of Great Lakes Integrity: We are seeking perspectives on the GLWQA and its review and scope, from a broad range of sectors representing cities, First Nations/Tribes, environmental organizations, industry, business and others. What is your vision for the future of the Great Lakes? Should the scope of a future GLWQA encompass all or part of that vision?
Institutional Arrangements and Governance: What do you believe is the most appropriate and effective role for the IJC in the GLWQA? What measures could increase accountability from all orders of government? What are the roles of non-government institutions in implementing the GLWQA? What are your experiences with institutional arrangements from other jurisdictions that could inform the current Great Lakes management regime?
Oral presentations will be limited to a maximum of 15 minutes, followed by a question and discussion period. Depending on the number of abstracts received and the time available, we may request that some papers be submitted as written papers only. Unless you specify otherwise, all papers will be posted on the IJC web site for electronic discussion and made available to all meeting participants. Proposed presentations will be organized into the breakout sessions based on the number and topic of abstracts received.
Priorities for Great Lakes Progress
by Dr. Gail Krantzberg, Great Lakes Regional Office Director
As we all watch in anticipation for the federal governments of Canada and the United States to begin their review of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA), our GLWQA boards and council have been extremely busy preparing advice that the IJC could give to governments once the review begins.
Our Great Lakes Water Quality Board recently held a “Watershed Approaches Workshop” to explore watershed planning strategies to improve the linkages between watershed initiatives by state, provincial and local governments and Annex 2 of the GLWQA (Remedial Action Plans and Lakewide Management Plans). The Water Quality Board is also assisting in the implementation of Remedial Action Plans (RAPs) by raising the profile of RAPs in local communities, analyzing and communicating successful elements of local leadership and public participation and updating the inventory of activities presented in the IJC’s 2003 report on progress in the Areas of Concern.
Our Science Advisory Board (SAB) is developing comprehensive reports on U.S. and Canadian laws and policies on urban land use to generate realistic recommendations on how the federal governments can be more effective in protecting Great Lakes water resources. The SAB is involved in a project to model urban development and form, and its effects on watersheds and receiving waters. Ever anticipatory of human health considerations, the SAB recently held a conference entitled “Chemical Exposure and Effects in the Great Lakes Today.” The SAB will soon host a workshop on pathogens and new chemical issues. Finally, the SAB has been examining the complex subject of Great Lakes governance to advance progress under the GLWQA.
Our Council of Great Lakes Managers is developing a research strategy to advise on the review of Annex 17 (Research and Development). The council is also helping to draft a Great Lakes Observing System business plan and is developing a binational research coordination strategy that will advise on the review of Annex 11 (Surveillance and Monitoring).
Our International Air Quality Advisory Board has made exciting advances in multi-compartmental modeling of mercury that uses a multiplex of models to link atmospheric deposition to human exposure through contaminated fish. The Air Board is also working with the other boards on aspects of the ongoing land use priority.
All of these topics will be discussed at our June 9, 2005 Great Lakes Conference in Kingston. The conference is an opportunity for you to learn and advise the Boards and Council on the nature of these important priorities in order to make the Lakes Great. Register today!
Task Force to look at apportionment of St. Mary and Milk rivers
In January, the IJC established an eight-member task force to examine the administrative procedures used to apportion the waters of two western rivers that are used for irrigation. The St. Mary River flows north from Montana into Alberta and the Milk River crisscrosses the Canada-U.S. border between Montana, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Issues over how the water is shared were raised two years ago by the governor of Montana, who asked that the IJC review its 1921 order governing the apportionment of these waters between the United States and Canada. After the IJC’s visit to the watershed and public consultation meetings, the Commissioners decided that they should examine the administrative procedures used in the apportionment rather than review the order at this time.
So the IJC created the St. Mary and Milk Rivers Administrative Measures Task Force. It met for the first time in February to begin looking at the apportionment procedures and to discuss the analytical methods that will be used. The members of the new task force are listed in the People section of this issue of Focus and more information can be found under the Boards tab at www.ijc.org.
Update on Missisquoi Bay
In December 2004, the IJC held public hearings in Vermont and Quebec on the final report of its International Missisquoi Bay Task Force. The task force investigation and hearings were conducted to help the IJC respond to an inquiry from the U.S. and Canadian federal governments on whether plans by the state of Vermont to replace the Alburg-Swanton Bridge comply with the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909. The bridge is located in Vermont and crosses the waters connecting Missisquoi Bay with the rest of Lake Champlain. The IJC expects to report its findings and recommendations to the governments in spring 2005.
IJC welcomes recent appointments to its boards and expresses our gratitude to those who contributed their time and talent to assist Canada and the United States with managing transboundary environmental issues.
Great Lakes Water Quality Board
Safe Environments Program
Joseph P. Koncelik,
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
International St. Lawrence Board of Control
International Niagara Board of Control
International Lake Superior Board of Control
Brigadier General Bruce Berwick
Commander of the Great Lakes
and Ohio River Division
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Brigadier General Steven R. Hawkins
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
International Rainy River Water Pollution Board
Jeff Stoner, U.S. Co-Chair
Water Resources District Chief
U.S. Geological Survey
International Red River Board
Municipality of Morris, Manitoba
R.S. “Bud” Oliver
St. Mary-Milk Rivers Administrative Measures Task Force
Dan Jewell, U.S. Co-Chair
Area Manager for Montana Area
Bureau of Reclamation
Field Representative to Accredited
Officer for St. Mary and Milk Rivers
Chief of Water Management Bureau
Montana Department of Natural Resources
Manager, Eastern Montana Region
HKM Engineering, Inc.
Ross Herrington, Canadian Co-Chair
Senior Water Policy Advisor
Field Representative to Accredited
Officer for St. Mary and Milk Rivers
Vice President for Operations
Saskatchewan Water Authority
District Approvals Manager
Joan Rose, member of the IJC’s Great Lakes Science Advisory Board, has been designated by the governor of Michigan to serve as chairperson of the Michigan Environmental Science Board (MESB). As an independent agency, the MESB provides scientific advice to the governor and state departments on matters affecting the protection and management of Michigan’s environment and natural resources.
June 9-11, 2005
2005 Great Lakes Conference and Biennial Meeting
Join the IJC in Kingston for three days of workshops, discussion and debate on the review by Canada and the United States of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
Biennial Meeting updates
The Honourable Stephane Dion, minister of the environment of Canada, and the Honourable Leona Dombrowsky, Ontario minister of the environment are confirmed to speak on June 11. Dr. Michael Byers, renowned international law expert and academic director for the Lui Institute for Global Issues in Vancouver, is confirmed to speak on June 10. The musical ensemble, Great Lakes Swimmers, will perform at the Friday evening reception following a speech by Dr. David Suzuki.
Hot off the press
- Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. While not “hot off the press,” the upcoming review of the agreement by the governments of the United States and Canada makes this historic document timely. Obtain a copy from an IJC office, or online at www.ijc.org under the “who we are” tab.
- Twelfth Biennial Report on Great Lakes Water Quality. In this report to the governments of the U.S. and Canada, the IJC highlights key issues for all that live in the Great Lakes region, and makes specific recommendations relating to the effects of urbanization on our lakes; threats associated with alien aquatic-invasive species; pathogens and disease-bearing microorganisms in drinking water sources; chemical contamination, methyl mercury and human health; and the recent ecological changes taking place in Lake Erie. Obtain a copy from an IJC office or online at www.ijc.org.