IJC Recommends Removal of Missisquoi Bay Causeway and
Increased Investments to Reduce Phosphorus Inputs
Today, at press conferences held at St-Armand/Philipsburg, Quebec, and Swanton, Vermont, the International Joint Commission issued its report on the potential transboundary impacts of the Missisquoi Bay causeway and the proposed new bridge.
The Commission affirms the Task Force's finding that removal of the causeway would have a negligible impact on phosphorous levels in the Bay, but it also recognizes the prevailing local belief that the causeway contributes significantly to the problems of the bay.
"In this case, social and aesthetic concerns must also be considered in conjunction with purely scientific findings. As a result, it is the Commission's best judgment that removal of the causeway will be a catalyst to accelerate and enhance efforts on both sides of the border to restore the water quality of Missisquoi Bay" said U.S. Chair Dennis Schornack.
"However," Canadian Commissioner Robert Gourd added, "we are also recommending that Canada and Quebec should commit an amount of money equal to the cost of removing the causeway to reducing phosphorous in the Missisquoi Bay and Lake Champlain and relocating the spiny softshell turtle habitat."
Drawing on information from the report by its Task Force and its consultations with the public, the Commission is satisfied that the causeway does not affect water levels in Canada. Nor does the causeway or the new bridge project cause any pollution resulting in transboundary injury to health or property.
Nonetheless, it concludes that the unacceptable water quality in Missisquoi Bay is creating a situation that "is adversely affecting health and property in both countries" and urges, in its report, the state and province to make additional investments and speed up their domestic programs to reduce phosphorus levels in the bay.
In May of 2004, the U.S. and Canadian federal governments asked the IJC to assess the transboundary impact of the State of Vermont's project to modernize the Alburg-Swanton Bridge. The IJC appointed an International Missisquoi Bay Task Force and held public hearings in August and December.
More information, including the full text of the Commissioners' report, may be found on the Commission's Web site, at www.ijc.org (Boards > Current Task Forces > International Missisquoi Bay Task Force, or from www.ijc.org/conseil_board/missisquoi_bay/en/missbay_home_accueil.htm.
The International Joint Commission is an international organization established by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909. It assists the governments in managing waters along the border for the benefit of both countries in a variety of ways, including examining issues referred to it by the two federal governments.
More information, including the full text of the Commission's report may be found on the Commission's Web site.