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PUBLIC NOTICE January 23, 2003


IJC invites comment on proposal to extend authority for peaking and ponding operations in St. Marys River

 

The International Joint Commission (IJC) proposes acting on the recommendation of its International Lake Superior Board of Control (the Board) on peaking and ponding in the St. Marys River and invites the public to comment by February 21, 2003, before it makes a decision on this matter. The Board recommends that the IJC extend the authority to conduct peaking and ponding operations, under the Board's supervision, for an additional year, so that further operational experience can be evaluated and further study conducted.

 

Peaking and ponding operations are carried out by the Edison Sault Electric Company and Great Lakes Power Limited to store water during times of off-peak demand and increase hydroelectric power generation during times of on-peak demand. Peaking is the variation of hourly flows within the daily average flow while ponding is the variation of daily flows within the weekly average flow (i.e. higher weekday flows and lower weekend flows). The IJC has given the power companies temporary authority to conduct peaking and ponding operations that extends to March 20, 2003.

 

By letter report of December 13, 2002, the Board reviewed peaking and ponding operations carried out from April to December 2002. Low flows in the St. Marys River coupled with water level conditions on Lakes Michigan and Huron prompted the Board to suspend ponding operations during April and December. The report summarizes comments from hydropower entities, navigation interests, and offices of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and Sea Lamprey Control Centre on peaking and ponding operations that took place and their experience with water levels and flows in the St. Marys River, none of which identified major impacts. It notes that an April 18, 2002 report by Environmental Resources Management did not identify significant impact of peaking and ponding operations on St. Marys River wetlands, fish habitats, or sea lamprey control programs. The report concludes that the interim guidelines and mechanism of disseminating information to the public appear to be working very well. It recommends that the Commission extend the authority given to the power entities to conduct peaking and ponding operations for at least another year, which will enable the Board to collect additional data, and provide time to continue with modeling development and analysis.

 

Proposed IJC decision:
Taking into account the Board's report, the IJC proposes providing the following authority to the power entities to conduct peaking and ponding operations for an additional year.

 

Until March 20, 2004, the power entities may conduct peaking and ponding operations under the supervision of the International Lake Superior Board of Control. Such operations shall be subject to prior approval from the Board at the beginning of each month and shall be conducted in a manner consistent with the mode of operation outlined in the power entities' February 8, 2002, submission to the IJC. The power entities shall coordinate peaking and ponding schedules with Board representatives at the beginning of each month. At the beginning of the month, the Board may suspend ponding operations for the month, or a portion thereof, if it expects that ponding operations would result in sustained weekend levels at the U.S. Slip Gauge declining below chart datum elevation. The Board may also alter or suspend peaking or ponding operations or both when it determines that emergency conditions exist such as equipment failure at the hydropower facilities, ship incidents such as groundings, electrical system difficulties, extreme meteorological conditions, or other circumstances. Apart from the foregoing peaking and ponding operations and emergencies where immediate action is necessary, the IJC's advance approval shall be obtained through the Board for any other deviations from the flow determined by Regulation Plan 1977-A.

 

The IJC will make a decision on this matter in late February. Public comment is invited and should be received by one of the IJC Secretaries by 12:00 noon on Friday, February 21, 2003:

 

Gerald Galloway

Secretary, U.S. Section

International Joint Commission

1250 23 rd Street N.W., Suite 100

Washington, DC 20440

Fax: (202) 467-0746

Email: commission@washington.ijc.org

 

Murray Clamen

Secretary, Canadian Section

International Joint Commission

234 Laurier Avenue West , 22 nd Floor

Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5M1

Fax: (613) 993-5583

Email: commission@ottawa.ijc.org

 

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. Its responsibilities include approving certain projects that would change the natural levels and flows of boundary waters, such as the Edison Sault Electric Company and Great Lakes Power Limited hydropower projects in the St. Marys River. If it approves the project, the IJC's Orders of Approval may require that the flows through the project meet certain conditions to protect the interests in both countries. For more information on the IJC, please visit http://www.ijc.org .

 

Contacts:

Frank Bevacqua, Washington, D.C. (202) 736-9024

Fabien Lengellé, Ottawa, ON         (613) 995-0088

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