Immediate Interim Phosphorus Targets Recommended for Lake of the Woods


Following a presentation from the International Rainy – Lake of the Woods Watershed Board in Washington D.C., the International Joint Commission endorsed and submitted the Board’s recommendations for immediate interim phosphorus reductions in Lake of the Woods to the Governments of Canada and the United States.

The Board reported that: 

Information presented at the recent 2018 Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Forum indicated that, in effect, Minnesota is on track to creating an overall phosphorus load reduction target of approximately 18.4 percent, with specific source targets soon to be released for public consultation and finalization. Information also presented at the Forum, provided supporting evidence that there are substantial sources of phosphorus loads from Canada.

Specifically the Board recommended that:

  • That the Governments of Canada, Ontario and Manitoba commit to an 18.4 percent reduction in phosphorus loads to Lake of the Woods as an interim measure at this time;
  • That the Governments of Canada and the United States work together to establish a shared binational phosphorus substance objective and load reduction targets for this important shared binational waterbody; and
  • That the Governments of Canada and the United States commit to regularly reviewing and revising this shared binational objective and targets as further science becomes available, with a first review as soon as possible after Environment and Climate Change Canada completes its current scientific assessment of Lake of the Woods in 2020. 

The Commission noted in writing the governments that the “Commission endorses these Board recommendations and considers them to be extremely important to the overall goal of reducing phosphorus loading, and the associated harmful algal blooms, in the Rainy-Lake of the Woods basin.” … While the Commission recognizes that scientific work is being undertaken by Environment and Climate Change Canada that may inform future efforts to reduce phosphorus loading, the Commission does not believe that the two federal governments, or provincial or state governments, need to wait for this scientific work to be completed before giving consideration to and committing to an interim target for a reduction in phosphorus loading in the basin.

Background Document: IJC letter to Governments


Sarah Lobrichon 

Frank Bevacqua