Section 1: About the Study

1.1 What is the IJC? 

The International Joint Commission (IJC) is a binational treaty organization whose focus is to protect the waters shared by Canada and the United States. 

Governed by the Boundary Waters Treaty that was signed in 1909, the Commission works toward solutions that are for the common good of both countries. 

The Treaty provides general principles, rather than detailed prescriptions, for preventing and resolving disputes over waters shared between the two countries and for settling other transboundary issues. The specific application of these principles is decided on a case-by-case basis. The IJC has two main responsibilities: regulating shared water uses and recommending solutions to the two federal governments on transboundary water issues. 

1.2 What is the International Lake Champlain-Richelieu River Study Board? 

The IJC appointed the International Lake Champlain Richelieu River Study Board in 2017 to oversee and manage the study looking into the causes, impacts, risks, and solutions to flooding in the International Lake Champlain and Richelieu River basin. 

The Study Board has 10 members: five from Canada and five from the United States. Current membership can be found on the LCRR's website. The members bring a variety of technical expertise and knowledge to the Study Board discussions. The Study Board is assisted by two study managers, one in each country and is also supported by a Public Advisory Group

1.3 How is this study different from what has been done in the past? 

Every request that goes to the IJC from the two federal governments is specific. This study was tasked with exploring the causes, impacts, risks and solutions to flooding in seven key areas. A unique feature of this study is the emphasis placed on understanding social, political and economic drivers associated with flood mitigation and forecasting. The Study Board is tasked with recommending structural and non-structural solutions to mitigate extreme flooding in the basin. The Study Board needs to consider these solutions in light of their potential environmental impacts, the costs/benefits for implementing them and their endurance in the face of climate change, among other criteria. 

1.4 What groups are being consulted in the current study? 

In Canada, bilateral meetings have been organized with a variety of local and regional organizations as well as provincial and federal agencies working in the watershed :  the Chamber of Commerce, the Government of Quebec, 5 Municipalités régionales de Comté (MRC) in the region, the Government of Canada, Conservation de la Nature Canada, Flood Plain Citizens Association, environmental conservation groups and the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA). In June 2020, a series of meetings with elected officials was carried out. The Study Board is also working with Indigenous people with interests in the basin. In addition, there have been workshops with first responders and floodplain managers; however more workshops are being planned for the near future. 

In the United States, multiple meetings have been held with property owners, municipal, state and federal officials, emergency responders and the general public, to provide them with information from the study’s work, and to seek their input on issues of concern relative to flooding along Lake Champlain in both Vermont and New York.