President Clinton Requests Funding for IJC Plan of Study To Review Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River regulation


President Bill Clinton announced today that he has included $2.15 million in his budget for Fiscal Year 2001 to review the regulation of water levels and flows in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. If the President’s proposed budget receives a favorable response by Congress and is funded, money will become available when the U.S. Fiscal Year 2001 starts in October of 2000.

"We commend the President for recognizing the importance of this work to people in the United States and Canada," said IJC U.S. Section Chair Thomas L. Baldini. "We are hopeful that the Congress will also support this review of water levels and flows regulation."

Mr. Baldini also noted that "in April 1999, the IJC had informed the governments of Canada and the United States that it was becoming increasingly urgent to review the regulation of Lake Ontario outflows in view of dissatisfaction, on the part of some interests, with the working of that system and in light of environmental concerns and climate change issues. The IJC transmitted a Plan of Study to the governments of the United States and Canada in October 1999 and requested the governments’ assistance in securing the resources needed to carry out the work."

The Plan of Study describes in detail the technical studies, impact assessment and development of alternatives needed to review the regulation of Lake Ontario outflows. The entire effort is projected to cost $10.1 million (U.S.) plus $15.8 million (Canadian) over five years.

The IJC’s Plan of Study recognizes that public consultation is critical to the review of the regulation of Lake Ontario outflows. Progress in addressing water levels issues is dependent in large part on public understanding of the causes of water level problems, and the further understanding that most proposed solutions could have consequences for others. To achieve this understanding, the IJC intends to directly involve all affected interests in the studies.

The IJC recognizes that the cost and effort are significant and that the study may not lead to a resolution of all the issues by producing significant additional benefits for every interest group beyond those already enjoyed. However, it has been nearly fifty years since a comprehensive assessment was performed of water levels and flows regulation in the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system that considers knowledge gained and likely future trends. The IJC believes that the Plan of Study provides a reasoned and appropriate approach for such a review.

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 the natural levels and flows of boundary waters, such as the international hydropower project at Massena, New York and Cornwall, Ontario. If it approves a project, the IJC’s Orders of Approval may require that the flows through the project meet certain conditions to protect the interests in both countries. For more information, please consult the IJC’s web site at

Contacts: Frank Bevacqua Washington, D.C. (202) 736-9024