Monday, May 31, 1999
IJC Announces Action Plan to Review Regulation of
Water Levels and Flows in Lake Ontario-Saint Lawrence River System
The International Joint Commission (IJC) today released a directive that creates a Study Team
and directs it to develop a detailed Plan of Studies for reviewing the operation of the structures
controlling the flows and levels of the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system.
In 1996, the IJC's International St. Lawrence River Board of Control developed a Scope of Work
identifying the studies needed to determine whether changes to the IJC's Orders of Approval
were warranted, including adding criteria to address recreational boating and the environment.
Studies identified in the Scope of Work were never funded by the Governments of the United
States and Canada.
The new effort will start the process of reviewing how water levels and flows are regulated by
defining the studies described in the Scope of Work in greater detail; recommending the agencies
and organizations capable of carrying out each study; identifying the sources or means of
obtaining needed information; and estimating the time, dollar and personnel resource
requirements for each study.
A total of 6 members, three members from each country, will be serving in their personal and
professional capacity on the Study Team. They have already been designated by the IJC.
The IJC is continuing to pursue support and funding for comprehensive studies of regulation of
the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system to more fully consider:
- environmental factors, which were poorly understood when the current Orders of
Approval were issued in the 1950s;
- recreational boating and related interests that have developed in the region;
- the combined effect of St. Lawrence River and Ottawa River flows during the Ottawa
- the actual range of water supplies received since the Orders of Approval were issued: and
- the effects of climate change and climate variability.
While no additional funding will be required to prepare the Plan of Studies, the Commission is
relying on the services of personnel from appropriate departments to carry out this work. Once
the Plan of Studies has been developed, significant funding will be required to carry out the
studies. The IJC requests that governments provide the needed funding for the timely execution
of the studies.
The International Joint Commission was created under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to
help prevent and resolve disputes over the use of waters along the Canada-United States
boundary. Its responsibilities include approving certain projects that would change the natural
levels and flows of boundary waters, such as the international hydropower project at Massena,
New York and Cornwall, Ontario. If it approves the project, the Commission'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, please consult the Commission's Web site at