This Board was established by the International Joint Commission in its 1914 Order of Approval granting permission for increased hydropower development in the St. Marys River. The Board’s duties include setting Lake Superior outflows, and overseeing the operation of the various control works. Activities related to these responsibilities include: conducting studies to develop and improve the regulation plan; monitoring repairs and maintenance of the control facilities; and directing flow measurements in the St. Marys River for the purpose of determining the discharge capacities of the various control works.
The Board provides the Commission with advice on matters related to: adverse hydrologic conditions on the lakes; modification of the control facilities; and levels and flows in the St. Mary’s River, including the environmentally sensitive St. Mary’s Rapids. The Board meets at least twice yearly, semi- annually provides the Commission with a report on its activities, and annually meets with the public.
Water flows out of Lake Superior through the St. Marys River into Lake Huron. Near the cities of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and Ontario, the St. Marys River falls about 6 metres (20 feet) in a distance of 1.2 kilometres (0.75 mile) as it passes the St. Marys Rapids. Since 1797, when the first lock was built to allow boats to bypass these rapids, various navigation and power structures have been constructed along the river.
Today, the water from Lake Superior flows through a collection of structures that stretch across the river. These works include three hydropower plants, five navigation locks, and a gated dam at the head of the rapids known as the Compensating Works. The release of water from Lake Superior through the various structures has been completely regulated since the completion of the Compensating Works in 1921.
For more information about the Board, please refer to the brochure at the link below:
International Lake Superior Board of Control Brochure