January 8, 1999
IJC Celebrates 90 Years of Canada-United States Cooperation
On Monday, January 11, 1999, the International Joint Commission (IJC) will
celebrate 90 years of helping the United States and Canada to cooperatively
address shared environmental concerns and looks to the future with initiatives
to help address the environmental challenges of the 21st century.
The Boundary Waters Treaty, signed
on January 11, 1909, established the IJC to prevent and resolve disputes over
the use of shared waters and to provide independent advice on other
transboundary environmental issues. The IJC has developed water quality
objectives for, and monitored the restoration of the Great Lakes and other
watersheds along the common boundary. It also oversees the operation of
several hydropower projects that affect water levels and flows across the
boundary and alerts the two countries to transboundary air quality issues
More recently, both the American and Canadian federal governments have
approved an IJC report entitled The IJC and
the 21st century and have asked the IJC to further examine
the international watershed approach as a mechanism to anticipate and respond
to the range of water-related and other environmental challenges that are
expected to occur as we enter the 21st century.
As competition for water resources intensifies around the globe, the
Boundary Waters Treaty and the IJC provide a tested model of how two
nations can peacefully share boundary waters in a mutually beneficial manner.
More information about the Boundary Waters Treaty and the IJC as well
as the report The IJC and the 21st century can be found on
the IJC's web site at: www.ijc.org.
Boundary Waters Treaty and International Joint Commission Facts
Boundary Waters Treaty
- Signed January 11, 1909;
- Establishes the International Joint Commission;
- Provides for binational approval of projects that would affect the
natural level or flow of boundary waters or that would raise the level
of rivers flowing across the boundary;
- Provides that waters shall not be polluted on either side to the injury
of health or property on the other.
Shared waters along the common boundary
- More than half of the 8,840 kilometre (5,525 mile) boundary passes through
- The Great Lakes contain approximately 22,800 cubic kilometres (5,470
cubic miles) of water or one-fifth of all the earth’s surface freshwater.
International Joint Commission
- Six Commissioners: three appointed by U.S. President with advice and
consent of the Senate and three appointed by the Government of Canada;
- Commissioners seek the best interests of both countries in accordance
with the Boundary Waters Treaty and do not receive instructions from
their respective governments;
- Commissioners are supported by staff section offices in Washington and
Ottawa, and a Great Lakes Regional Office in Windsor, Ontario;
- Most technical work is carried out by approximately 20 international
boards, councils and task forces made up of equal numbers of experts
from the U.S. and Canada.