International Joint Commission
United States and Canada

NEWS RELEASE May 22, 2003 Cornwall, Ontario

IJC Assists in Hydropower Emergency

When the Silver Lake Dam failed on the Dead River near Marquette, Michigan, flood and safety concerns were paramount. The dam failure also had other consequences, one of which was a sudden drop in hydropower production. In other parts of the Upper Peninsula, business operations were forced to shut down due to lack of electric power.

Responding to this situation, the International Joint Commission and its International Lake Superior Board of Control authorized increased outflows from Lake Superior, permitting Edison Sault Electric Company to operate its hydropower facility in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, at capacity and contribute additional power to the grid. The increased outflows are expected to continue at least through the end of May, with the additional electric power generated helping to maintain the stability of the Upper Peninsula power grid.

“We offer our sympathy to those affected by the failure of Silver Lake Dam,” said Dennis Schornack, U.S. Chair of the International Joint Commission and a long-time resident of Michigan. “Others have given so much in response. I’m pleased we can contribute in some way, however small, to the overall effort.”

“Allowing slightly increased outflows from Lake Superior for a short time has minimal impacts on water levels and flows in the Great Lakes and the St. Marys River while helping offset an electrical system emergency,” added The Right Honourable Herb Gray, Canadian Chair of the Commission. “Our International Lake Superior Board of Control continues to watch the situation closely and keep everyone informed of these flow changes.”

The International Joint Commission is an international organization established by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to prevent and resolve disputes over the use of waters shared by the United States and Canada. The International Lake Superior Board of Control provides direct oversight of Lake Superior outflows through the St. Marys River at Sault Ste. Marie for the Commission. For more information on the Commission, please visit

Frank Bevacqua    Washington       (202) 736-9024
Fabien Lengellé     Ottawa            (613) 995-0088

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