Public Comment on Recommendations by the International Red River Board on proposed nutrient concentration objectives and nutrient load targets for the Red River at the boundary between the United States and Canada



The International Joint Commission (IJC) has announced that it is inviting public comment on recommendations made by the International Red River Board (IRRB) in a report describing proposed nutrient concentration objectives and nutrient load targets for the Red River at the boundary between the United States and Canada.  Comments were accepted at a public hearing on January 16, 2020 in Fargo, North Dakota, and in Winnipeg, Manitoba on February 12, 2020 and by mail (see mailing addresses in footer of webpage), email and on-line until March 28, 2020. 

The IRRB’s full report can be found on the IJC website at the following link: For more background documents please scroll to the end of this page.

Public Hearings on IRRB’s Report on Proposed Nutrient Water Quality Objectives

Fargo, North Dakota

Date: January 16, 2020

Time:  7-9 p.m. (CST)

 Location: Delta Marriott Fargo 
                  1635 42nd St SW
                  Fargo, ND. 58103

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Date: February 12, 2020

Time: 7-9 p.m. (CST)

 Location: Four Points by Sheraton Winnipeg South Hotel
                  2935 Pembina Highway
                  Winnipeg MB R3T 2H5.

The Commission reports on water quality of the Red River as it crosses the boundary pursuant to a reference under Article IX of the Boundary Waters Treaty between the United States and Canada.  Commission recommendations to the two federal governments under Article IX References of the Boundary Waters Treaty are not binding and not to be considered decisions of the two federal governments. 

The International Red River Board was established by the Commission in part to assist in reporting on the water quality of the Red River as it crosses the boundary and to recommend amendments or additions to the water quality objectives approved by the U.S. and Canadian governments in 1968 when considered warranted by the Commission. 

In the 2000s the IRRB identified nutrients as an issue of concern.  The Board established a Water Quality Committee to develop recommendations for potential nutrient load allocations and/or targets.  At the IRRB’s September 2019 meeting the Board agreed to recommend the following nutrient concentration objectives and nutrient load targets for the Red River at the boundary between the U.S. and Canada:

Nutrient concentration objective     

  • Total Phosphorus       0.15 mg/L
  • Total Nitrogen         1.15 mg/L


  • Seasonal Average (April 1-October 30)

Nutrient load target                 

  • Total Phosphorus    1,400 tonnes/year
  • Total Nitrogen      9,525 tonnes/year


  • Five year running average

Commissioners were present to hear comments at the above referenced public hearings in Fargo, North Dakota on January 16, 2020 from 7-9 p.m, and in Winnipeg, Manitoba on February 12 at the same time. A public comment period on the IRRB’s report will also be open through March 28, 2020. Public input is essential to the Commission’s consideration of a recommendation to the Governments of the United States and Canada.


Background documents

The International Joint Commission was established under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to help the United States and Canada prevent and resolve disputes over the use of the waters the two countries share. Its responsibilities include investigating and reporting on issues of concern when asked by the governments of the two countries.             


Public Comments - Received by mail or by e-mail

United States Environmental Protection Agency - Region 8

Minnesota Cities of Breckenridge, Moorhead, Roseau, Thief River Falls and Warroad

​​​​City of Moorhead, Engineering Department 

City of Warroad, Utility Superintendent

North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

John Fefchak

Frederik Veldink

Red River Retention Authority

City of Roseau, Community Development Coordinator

Eva Pip

Lake Winnipeg Indigenous Collective

Lake Winnipeg Foundation

Laurie Bennett

Kathryn Dompierre

Garth Guttormson

Lynnette Froese

Bois de Sioux Watershed Board

Coalition to Save Lake Winnipeg

Gordon and Bernice Lawrie

City of Thief River Falls

North Dakota State Senator Tim Mathern - District 11

Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development 

City of Pelican Rapids

Fertilizer Canada

Manitoba Association of Cottage Owners

Red River Watershed Management Board 

Minnesota State Senators and House Representatives - Minnesota Senate Districts 1, 4 and 12, Minnesota House Districts 1A, 1B, 4A, 4B, 12A

Hall & Associates 

City of Breckenridge, Public Utilities 

Minnesota Cities of Breckenridge, Moorhead, Roseau and Warroad

South Basin Mayors and Reeves

Manitoba Eco-Network 

Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities

Manitoba Métis Federation

Janine Gibson

Minnesota Environmental Science and Economic Review Board

City of Fergus Falls, Engineering Department 


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Dave Taylor
University of Winnipeg
Date Posted
Sun, 02/09/2020 - 13:06

The City of Winnipeg has over the last few years reported spills of raw sewage into the Red and Assiniboine rivers on their website Many of these spills are directly due to power failures and the volume of sewage is directly related to the time it takes to set up a mobile generator to power the pumps. The City of Winnipeg should be encouraged to provide back up generators at outflows to reduce the volume of raw sewage entering the rivers. In addition, discussion has begun between the City of Winnipeg and the Province of Manitoba as well the Government of Canada to reduce phosphorus loading of Lake Winnipeg. Although the ultimate solution is to separate the existing sewer system, there are many other interim solutions to prevent the nutrient loading of Lake Winnipeg. The City of Winnipeg requires the support both financially and with expertise to help to alleviate this problem. I would encourage the Joint Commission to call on the Province of Manitoba and the Government of Canada to support the efforts of the City of Winnipeg. There is no reason that over 20 million litres of raw sewage should enter into these rivers in any year. Please find my article from the Winnipeg Free Press included, it was penned in October 2018, prior to the last municipal election.

Stephanie Guildford
Date Posted
Sat, 03/28/2020 - 19:34

Public comment to IJC in regards to “Proposed nutrient concentration and loading targets for the Red River at the US-Canada boundary”
Submitted on March 28, 2020 by Robert Hecky and Stephanie Guildford