For Release: February 22, 1999

IJC to hold public hearings on uses, diversions, and bulk exports of Great Lakes water

The International Joint Commission (IJC) will begin a major investigation of how Canada and the United States use the waters along their common border by holding public hearings in eight cities on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. Times and locations are provided below.

On February 10, the United States and Canadian federal governments asked the IJC to examine and report on the consumption, diversion and removal of waters along the common border, including removals in bulk for export.

The request from governments comes in the wake of proposals to export water overseas from Canada and litigation involving the export of water from Canada to the United States. Both governments are concerned that existing management principles and conservation measures may be inadequate to ensure future sustainable use of shared waters.

The need to review the management and use of transboundary water resources was raised by the IJC in a 1997 report entitled The IJC and the 21st Century. The IJC said such a review is needed to ensure that water and related resources are managed in a rational, consistent and anticipatory way to prevent transboundary disputes. In their letters of reference to the IJC for the new investigation, the governments repeat the concern that proposals to use, divert and remove greater amounts of such waters can be expected.

The request from the governments asks the IJC to examine, report upon and provide recommendations on the following matters which may have effects on levels and flows of water within transboundary basins and shared aquifers:

  1. Existing and potential consumptive uses of water;
  2. Existing and potential diversions of water in and out of the transboundary basins, including withdrawals of water for export;
  3. The cumulative effects of existing and potential diversions and removals of water, including removals in bulk for export;
  4. The current laws and policies as may affect the sustainability of the water resources in boundary and transboundary basins.

The governments have asked the IJC to build on its experience, notably its study of Great Lakes diversions and consumptive uses that concluded in 1985, and to submit interim recommendations for the protection of Great Lakes waters within six months. A final report making recommendations on the broader issue of U.S.-Canada shared waters is requested within six months of the interim recommendations.

The eight public hearings will be held from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on the dates and at the locations listed below:

March 17, 1999
Wyndham Cleveland Hotel
Ballroom Level
1260 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio
March 17, 1999
Marriott Château Champlain
Caf'Conc' Room
1 Place du Canada
Montréal, Québec
March 18, 1999
Palmer House Hilton
Wabash Room
17 East Monroe Street
Chicago, Illinois
March 18, 1999
Crowne Plaza Hotel
Ballroom A
225 Front Street West
Toronto, Ontario
March 22, 1999
Sault Ste. Marie (ON)
Ramada Inn & Convention Centre
Centre Ballroom
229 Great Northern Road
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
March 23, 1999
The Cleary International Centre
Room Dieppe A
201 Riverside Drive West
Windsor, Ontario
March 24, 1999
Radisson Hotel Duluth Harborview
Great Hall
505 West Superior Street
Duluth, Minnesota
March 25, 1999
Rochester (NY)
Marriott-Rochester Airport
1890 West Ridge Road
Salon A
Rochester, New York

All interested persons and organizations are encouraged to submit comment. Due to time constraints, speakers may only have the opportunity to summarize their comments (five minutes) during the public hearing. Written comment may also be submitted at the public hearings, or the the IJC offices during the course of this investigation:

Secretary, Canadian Section
100 Metcalfe Street, 18th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5M1
Fax 613.993.5583
Secretary, United States Section
1250 23rd Street NW, Suite 100
Washington, DC 20440
Fax 202.736.9015

The International Joint Commission is a binational Canada-U.S. organization established by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909. It assists the governments in managing waters along the border for the benefit of both countries in a variety of ways including examining issues referred to it by the two federal governments.

More information, including the full text of the letter of reference, may be found on the Commission's web site, at

Washington, D.C. Frank Bevacqua 202.736.9024
Ottawa, ON Fabien Lengellé 613.995.0088

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