May 22, 2007

IJC announces membership of its International Upper Great Lakes Study Board and Beginning of Study

The International Joint Commission of Canada and the U.S. (IJC) is pleased to announce the membership of its International Upper Great Lakes Study Board. The five-year Upper Great Lakes Study will seek to determine whether the regulation of Lake Superior outflows pursuant to the order and plan can be improved to address the evolving needs of users on Lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan and Erie. Physical changes in the St. Clair River which forms part of the connecting channel between Lake Huron and Lake Erie will be investigated early in the study as one factor that might be affecting water levels and flows. Depending on the nature and extent of the physical changes, and their potential impact on water levels and flows, the study may also explore potential remediation options.

The five-year Upper Great Lakes Study will:

  • determine the factors that affect water levels and flows in the upper lakes;
  • develop new regulation plans for the St. Mary’s River and test their performance;
  • assess the impacts of these plans on the ecosystem and human interests; and
  • incorporate climate change scenarios into the analysis.

The IJC has regulated Lake Superior outflows since 1911 when it approved the construction of works in the St. Mary’s River that enabled the development of hydroelectric power plants in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. Since that time, the IJC has had a control board oversee the carrying out of the orderWater levels on lakes Michigan and Huron were at record high levels in 1986; the water level of Lake Superior is currently approaching its record low level.

A list of the membership of the 10-member Study Board, including the Chair of the Public Interest Advisory Group and the Board’s supporting staff is attached. The IJC will also appoint a Public Interest Advisory Group (PIAG) to assist the Study Board with communication and outreach activities. The Study Board reflects a wide range of technical expertise from academia and government as well as a broad geographic perspective from throughout the Upper Lakes. Also serving on the board are the co-chairs of the PIAG making sure that the views of the public are given due consideration.

The Commission held its first meeting with the Study Board at its Semi-Annual Meeting on April 18 in Washington, D.C. After receiving direction from the Commission, and in light of the Plan of Study, the Study Board is currently preparing a detailed work plan.

The International Joint Commission was 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. Its responsibilities include approving the construction and operation of certain projects that change the natural levels and flows of boundary waters to ensure compliance with the terms of the treaty. More information about the IJC and its Study Board, including biographical information for Study Board members, is available online at:

Frank Bevacqua Washington 202-736-9024
Greg McGillis Ottawa 613-947-1420


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