December 20, 2001

IJC public hearings to examine impacts of
peaking and ponding in St. Marys River

The International Joint Commission (IJC) will hold public hearings in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario to gather information about the impacts of peaking and ponding operations in the St. Marys River.

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 two power entities are authorized to use water from the St. Marys River by the IJC's Orders of Approval, which contain provisions to protect interests in both countries that may be affected by changes in natural water levels and flows. Outflows from Lake Superior are set on a monthly basis by the IJC-approved regulation plan, Plan 1977A, under the oversight of the IJC's International Lake Superior Board of Control.

The current low water situation, and recent inquiries concerning navigation and environmental impacts, have drawn the IJC's attention to the conduct of peaking and ponding operations in the St. Marys River. The IJC has advised the power entities that the IJC's Orders of Approval, as amended, and Plan 1977A, do not authorize deviations from the monthly regulation-plan flow, and do not authorize peaking and ponding operations. Nevertheless, the IJC has provided temporary authority to the power entities to conduct peaking and ponding operations until March 20, 2002, under the supervision of the International Lake Superior Board of Control.

The IJC has asked its International Lake Superior Board of Control to review the current situation and recommend whether peaking and ponding operations in the St. Marys River should continue, and if so, under what circumstances. The public hearings are intended to provide information that may be useful to the Board in preparing its report.

Public hearings will take place at the following times and locations:

3:00 p.m., January 28, 2002
Walker Cisler Center
Lake Ontario Room
Lake Superior University
Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

7:00 p.m., January 28, 2002
Holiday Inn Waterfront
Room: Thompson A & B
208 St. Mary's River Dr.
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

The IJC also intends to provide a public briefing in the Sault Ste. Marie area after it has received the report of its International Lake Superior Board of Control and made a decision with regard to peaking and ponding.

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. More information is available on the IJC's website at: .

Frank Bevacqua Washington, D.C. (202) 736-9024
Fabien Lengellé Ottawa, Ontario (613) 995-0088

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