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International Lake Ontario - St. Lawrence River Study Board

The International Joint Commission (IJC) received the final report of its International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Study Board in May 2006 and invited public comment on the report through September 15, 2006. As it reviews its Orders of Approval for Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River regulation, the IJC is now considering the Study Board's final report, the public comment and additional information. The IJC will hold public hearings before it makes any decisions affecting the regulation of water levels and flows in the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system. Information about the IJC's process can be found at: http://www.ijc.org/en/activities/losl/index.php

The International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Study Board held its final meeting with the International Joint Commission on December 5, 2005 ending its five-year Study of investigations to develop a revised regulation plan for Lake Ontario. Over the five-year Study period, the Study Team collected a considerable amount of new data and performed relevant scientific investigations. It applied innovative technologies to develop and evaluate new regulation plans to provide a better balance among all the interests in the system. Many new findings, conclusions and clarifications of previously uncertain views and theories were developed during the course of this work.

Throughout 2005, workshops were held to refine the options with stakeholder input. During the summer, fifteen public meetings were held and preliminary options were presented. Through these meetings, workshops and continued refinements by the Study's Plan Formulation and Evaluation Group with input from its Technical Work Groups, three options have emerged labeled A+, B+ and D+, which address the range of interests and issues that have been identified as part of an extensive evaluation effort. These plans have the designation + as they represent improvements over the versions of plans A, B and D that were made public during the Study's summer 2005 outreach activity. Many other possible regulation plans were considered and evaluated but were set aside.

Each candidate plan fulfills two of the Study Board's principal goals of providing net economic and environmental improvements, when compared to the existing plan of operation, Plan 1958-D with deviations. However, it is difficult to satisfy, at all times, the myriad of specialized demands on the part of each of the competing interests in the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system. Changes to the current procedure are not possible without harm to some interests. The majority of Board members do not consider these damages a "disproportionate loss."

The Study Board has given the International Joint Commission a comprehensive set of tools, models, supporting data and information that will help facilitate its decision on an option. The Study's final report will be available in the spring of 2006. The Commission will be holding a set of public meetings after release of the report to gather additional input before a final decision is made.