April 2, 2002
IJC releases Upper Great Lakes Plan of Study
The International Joint Commission (IJC) today released an Upper Great Lakes
Plan of Study for reviewing the regulation of the flow of water out of Lake
Superior. A binational study team, assembled by the IJC in August 2001,
submitted the Plan of Study to the IJC after consulting with a range of experts
and conducting eight public meetings in October and November on a draft of the
Plan of Study.
The outflows from Lake Superior are regulated in accordance with the
requirements of the Orders of Approval issued by the IJC. The IJCís
International Lake Superior Board of Control developed Regulation Plan 1977-A
to determine the outflow that meets the requirements of the Orders of Approval
for particular water supply conditions and the Board oversees the operation of
structures regulating Lake Superior outflows.
The Plan of Study describes the tasks, schedules and costs for reviewing the
IJCís Orders of Approval and the regulation plan under a binational approach.
The study would identify the needs of the various beneficial uses affected by
water levels from Lake Superior downstream through Lake Erie and propose
possible improvements to Lake Superior outflow regulation. Potential climate
changes that could affect water levels and flows of the Great Lakes system
would also be considered in the study. The IJC intends to conduct the study
pending the appropriation of funding for the study in both the United States
The criteria for regulating the outflows of Lake Superior were last revised in
1979. Concerns have been expressed about the ability of the current regulation
plan to cope with extreme high and low water supplies, such as the record high
water levels in the upper Great Lakes basin in 1985 and 1986 and the sustained
below-average levels throughout the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River system from
1999-2001. Potential climate change scenarios could pose additional challenges
for Lake Superior outflow regulation. In addition, the upper Great Lakes
basinís socioeconomic conditions continue to evolve, and the needs and
preferences of the interests may have changed over the decades.
The International Joint Commission is an international organization established
by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to prevent and resolves disputes over the
use of waters shared by the United States and Canada. The IJC is also reviewing
water levels and flows regulation in the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River.
The Upper Great Lakes Plan of Study may be requested from an IJC office, or
downloaded from the