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On June 15, 2004, the International Joint Commission (IJC) appointed the International Missisquoi Bay Task Force. The four-member Task Force, with equal representation from the United States and Canada, will examine and report to the IJC on questions regarding possible transboundary implications of the Alburg-Swanton Bridge, which crosses the waters connecting Missisquoi Bay with the rest of Lake Champlain in the State of Vermont.

By letters dated May 7, 2004 and May 11, 2004, respectively, the Canadian and United States federal governments asked the International Joint Commission (IJC) to review plans by the State of Vermont to modernize the Alburg-Swanton Bridge, involving the partial removal of the existing causeway, and to provide advice on whether this complies with the terms of the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 as concerns causing pollution to the injury of health or property in Canada or the United States. The residents of the region have expressed great concern with regards to the quality of the water and people's health.

The request from governments was made as a reference under Article IX of the Boundary Waters Treaty. While further discussions between the IJC and the governments may refine the issues to be examined, the governments asked that the IJC review consider the following matters:

  1. Whether the original causeway in the United States affects water levels/flows in Canada;
  2. Whether the original causeway in the United States causes pollution to the injury of health or property in Canada;
  3. Whether the removal of the original causeway in the United States might cause pollution to the injury of health or property in the United States; and
  4. Whether the proposed project in the United States will cause pollution to the injury of health or property in Canada.

The members of the International Missisquoi Bay Task Force are:

Gerald C. Potamis, P.E. (Co-Chair)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Region 1
Madeleine Papineau (Co-Chair)
Environment Canada
Environmental Conservation Branch
Eric Smeltzer
Vermont Agency of Natural Resources
Water Quality Division
Martin Mimeault
Quebec Ministry of Environment
Direction régionale de l’analyse et de l’expertise de l’Estrie et de la

The Task Force will review available information regarding the Alburg-Swanton Bridge project and expects to submit its report to the Commission in early fall 2004.

The IJC will hold public hearings on this matter in the area so that all interested parties may provide information and views regarding the project. The times and locations of the public hearings will be announced in a further media release.

The IJC invites all interested parties to submit written comment at any time during the course of this investigation to the addresses below:

Secretary, Canadian Section
234 Laurier Avenue West, 22nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6K6
Fax: (613) 993-5583
Secretary, United States Section
1250 23rd Street NW, Suite 100
Washington, DC 20440
Fax: (202) 467-0746

The International Joint Commission is an international Canada-United States organization established by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909. It assists the governments in managing waters along the border for the benefit of both countries in a variety of ways including examining issues referred to it by the two federal governments.

More information, including the full text of the governments’ letters of reference, may be found on the Commission’s web site, at

Canada Michelle Tracy (613) 995-0088
United States Frank Bevacqua (202) 736-9024