IJC announces Plan of Study to review Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River regulation


The International Joint Commission (IJC) today released a Plan of Studydescribing in detail the work required to review the regulation of water levels and flows in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

The IJC had previously prepared a Scope of Work describing in a more general fashion the work required to review the regulation of water levels and flows. It held numerous meetings to obtain public comment on the Scope of Work before providing it to the Governments of the United States and Canada in 1996.

The IJC informed the Governments in April 1999 that it was becoming increasingly urgent to review the regulation of Lake Ontario outflows in view of dissatisfaction, on the part of some interests, with the working of that system and in light of environmental concerns and climate change issues. As a first step, the IJC established a binational work group made up of agencies and organizations from both the United States and Canada to transform the Scope of Work into the more detailed Plan of Studies.

On October 15, 1999 the IJC transmitted the Plan of Study to the Governments and requested the Governments' assistance in securing the resources needed to carry out the work. The work described in the Plan of Study is extensive and encompasses detailed technical studies, impact assessment and development of alternatives. Ongoing public consultation will be an important component. The entire effort is projected to cost $10.1 million (U.S.) plus $15.8 million (Canadian) and take five years to complete.

The IJC recognizes that the cost and effort are significant and that the study may not lead to a resolution of all the issues by producing significant additional benefits for every interest group beyond those already enjoyed. However, it has been nearly fifty years since a comprehensive assessment was performed of water levels and flows regulation in the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system that considers knowledge gained and likely future trends. The IJC believes that the Plan of Study provides a reasoned and appropriate approach for such a review.

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 IJC'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 IJC's web site at www.ijc.org.

Contacts: Fabien Lengellé Ottawa ON 613.995.0088 Frank Bevacqua Washington, DC 202.736.9024