IJC appoints new International Watershed Board for the Rainy - Lake of the Woods
[Washington, D.C.] - The International Joint Commission (IJC) today met with the new Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board during the IJC Semi-Annual meeting.
The IJC formed the new International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board to assist it with binational coordination of water quality efforts for the entire transboundary watershed and to coordinate the management of the water levels and flows on the Rainy River and Rainy Lake.
The new International Watershed Board combines the IJC’s International Rainy River Water Pollution Board and the International Rainy Lake Board of Control. The new Board’s directive outlines its specific responsibilities in detail and it includes a mandate to report to governments on water quality objectives in the boundary waters of the watershed.
"Consolidating the two existing IJC boards in the watershed creates no additional regulatory authority, but rather improves coordination. Coordination among jurisdictions can help address algae blooms and other local concerns," said Commissioner Rich Moy.
The new Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed board is comprised of 20 members, consisting of an equal number of Canadian and Americans, of which 11 members are from federal, state and provincial governments, three from Tribes, First Nations, Métis, and six from the public.
"The new board is inclusive and brings experts to the table from communities throughout the Rainy River and the Lake of the Woods watershed," said Canadian Chair the Hon. Joe Comuzzi.
Consistent with the IJC’s International Watershed Initiative, the Rainy-Lake of Woods Watershed Board is adopting an integrated, ecosystem approach that recognizes the complex interrelationships between water quality or quantity concerns in the entire watershed. The new watershed board is also tasked with developing a water quality plan of study for Lake of the Woods to identify the scientific work needed to address transboundary water issues. Priority issues to be examined include nutrient enrichment and harmful algal blooms; aquatic invasive species; climate change indicators and the development of adaptation measures; and contamination of ground and surface water from sulphides and heavy metals.
Water levels and flows regulation is unchanged under the new watershed board. The Rainy and Namakan Lake Water Levels Control Committee of the watershed board has the same composition as the current International Rainy Lake Board of Control and retains authority to act independently.
The governments of the United States and Canada requested that the IJC examine binational governance of the Lake of the Woods and Rainy River in June 2010. The International Joint Commission created the International Lake of the Woods and Rainy River Watershed Task Force (Task Force) in July 2010, to examine and report to the IJC on the matters raised by the governments. The Commission reported to governments in January of 2012, and the Canadian and American governments responded in the summer of 2012.
Under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909, the IJC helps prevent and resolve disputes between Canada and the United States over the use of their shared waters. The IJC has helped the two countries manage water quantity and water quality issues in the Lake of the Woods and Rainy River watershed since 1912, when it launched a major study of pollution of boundary waters and reviewed an application for a dam at Kettle Falls. More information about the IJIC can be found online at www.ijc.org. More information about the International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board, including the membership and text of the Board’s directive, can be found online at: www.ijc.org/en_/RLWWB.
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