IJC invites public comment on Lake of the Woods Water Quality Plan of Study before making final recommendations to Governments


The International Joint Commission (IJC) today announced a 30-day public comment period on the International Lake of the Woods Basin Water Quality Plan of Study. The plan of study will guide the IJC in making recommendations to the Governments of Canada and the United States for a water quality study for the Basin.  

The Plan of Study was based on extensive engagement with public agencies, scientific and technical experts, community groups, First Nations, Métis and Tribes, and the general public.  However, the costs and prioritization of projects in the plan of study have not previously been available for public review. 

"The Commission would like to thank the Study Team for producing a science-based study plan that considered the needs of all the interests, including citizens and grass-roots advisory groups; Tribes, First Nations, and Métis communities; the business community; and governments in the Lake of the Woods Basin", said Canadian Acting Chair, Gordon Walker. 

"Now it is important that the public has a final opportunity to review the full report with costs before the IJC makes recommendations to the governments of the United States and Canada for a water quality plan of study that will enable meaningful actions to restore the quality of the water in the Lake of the Woods Basin", added U.S. Commissioner Rich Moy. 

The Plan of Study identifies 32 projects that it found are needed to improve understanding of the basin ecosystem and support a balanced, binational approach to water quality management (see the attached summary backgrounder).  The Plan also outlines three funding options for consideration: 

  • Option A proposes that 17 priority projects focusing on providing core data and knowledge, and allowing for a limited response to the full scope of current and emerging water quality challenges in the basin at a total estimated cost of $4,425,000. 
  • Option B proposes 11 additional important projects allowing for a more comprehensive undertaking to respond to water quality concerns in the basin for a total estimated cost of $7,228,000.  
  • Option C proposes the funding of all 32 projects recommended in the Plan of Study, at a total estimated cost of $7,903,000. 

The Study Team also identified three projects or activities that are in need of immediate attention: 

  • Project 27: International Platform for Implementation.  This project, which is crucial to the successful implementation of the Plan of Study and future binational management opportunities determines - who best of existing entities in the basin could do what.  
  • Project 14: Rapid Evaluation and Implementation of Options to Manage Recent Zebra Mussel Infestation in Headwaters Areas in Minnesota.  Zebra mussels pose a significant, immediate risk to the ecosystem health of the Basin.  
  • Long-term Funding of Wheeler’s Point Gage and Designation as a Gage of Binational Significance.  This is a critical component for determining ecosystem health in the Basin.

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 considering applications for projects that affect the natural levels and flows of boundary waters.

Comment on the Plan of Studyhttp://www.ijc.org/en_/LOWWQPOS

Backgrounder:  The Plan of Study’s 32 recommended projects

Appendices: Workshop and Outreach Activities

For more information: 

Nick Heisler                Ottawa                        heislern@ottawa.ijc.org                     613-992-8367

Frank Bevacqua         Washington                 bevacquaf@washington.ijc.org         202-736-9024