The Study

The International Joint Commission (IJC) initiated this study to determine whether the regulation plan for Lake Superior outflows can be  improved to address the evolving needs of users on lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan and Erie and it appointed an International Upper Great Lakes Study Board to assist with the review of the regulation plan and to assess other matters related to water levels and flows in the upper Great Lakes system.

The Study Board’s final report was released in March 2012 and the IJC invited public comment from June 18 to September 30. Commissioners heard from 212 people at 13 public hearings held in communities across the upper Great Lakes region, with approximately 1,600 people in attendance. During the comment period, people also submitted 334 letters, 782 email messages, 115 posts on IJC.ORG and 2,020 post cards.

There was widespread concern about low water levels and many people voiced support for measures in the St. Clair River to restore the levels of lakes Michigan and Huron. Others expressed concerns that such measures would increase shoreline damages during periods of high water levels. Support was expressed for the proposed plan to regulate Lake Superior outflows. Comments also supported the development of an adaptive management strategy to better understand and respond to long-term trends regarding water levels. Others felt that the levels of lakes Michigan and Huron should be restored before any such measures were pursued. Commissioners have reviewed the hearing transcripts and written comments, which are also all available to you in the Comments section of this website.

Commissioners will carefully consider the Study Board’s report and all comments before making any decisions regarding water levels and flows on the upper Great Lakes. The IJC has the authority to decide whether or not to implement a new regulation plan and can also make recommendations to the governments in the upper Great Lakes basin regarding adaptive management, restoration of water levels, multi-lake regulation and other matters related to water levels and flows. The IJC intends to conclude its deliberations and make recommendations in early 2013. We know you care deeply about the future of the Great Lakes, as do we, and we will keep you informed of the outcome. Thank you again for contributing to our deliberations on this important matter.