International Joint Commission Completes Review of Water Levels Regulation in St. Croix River
Following a multi-year investigation, the International Joint Commission (IJC) concluded today that the studies do not support changes to its Orders of Approval for the operation of dams in the St. Croix River basin. The studies, initiated in response to concerns raised by stakeholders in the basin, showed that the various changes to water levels regulation suggested by the stakeholders could not be simultaneously put into place.
The IJC reached this conclusion after considering the final report of its Steering Committee on the review of the St. Croix River Orders of Approval and public comment. The IJC has decided to maintain the current Orders of Approval at this time.
The IJC has also taken action on two recommendations in its Steering Committee's final report. In response to a recommendation to build on the public involvement generated by the review of the Orders of Approval, the IJC has asked its two St. Croix River boards to host a public workshop this summer to define some of the problems and issues facing the St. Croix River and to explore joint solutions. The IJC and its St. Croix boards will continue to hold public meetings and workshops as forums for stakeholder input.
In response to another recommendation, the IJC had previously asked its International Advisory Board on Pollution Control-St. Croix River to review the minimum flow requirements at Baring, Maine with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The IJC's Board and the agencies are continuing discussions as they assess the need for minimum flows to meet a number of water quality and fish and wildlife objectives.
The IJC established the Steering Committee in 1993 to conduct studies to determine whether the Commission should consider revising its Orders of Approval for dams at Forest City, Vanceboro, Grand Falls and Milltown. The studies were initiated after concerns about water levels and flows had been expressed at public meetings during the summer of 1992. The Steering Committee, consisting of members of the IJC's International St. Croix River Board of Control and its International Advisory Board on Pollution Control-St. Croix River, completed its final report in November 1997. In addition to verbal comments at an August 26, 1998, public meeting, a further invitation for written comment was extended to October 23, 1998.
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 water levels on the other side of the boundary. If it approves a project, the Commission's Orders of Approval may require that flows through the project meet certain conditions to protect interests in both countries. For more information, visit www.ijc.org on the World Wide Web.
Contact Frank Bevacqua Washington, D.C. (202) 736-9024 Fabien Lengellé Ottawa, Ontario (613) 995-0088