The International Joint Commission (IJC) recently received $1.5 million in funding from the United States, with an additional $1.5 million in matching funds from Canada, to investigate possible improvements that could be made to Lake Ontario outflow regulation activities.
Extremely wet conditions over the last several years have driven record-high water levels and river flows in the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system. This 18- to 24-month investigation will focus on gathering information to help inform the critical decisions needed to best manage these extreme conditions, and on providing information that may lead to long-term improvements to the regulation plan.
This effort will be managed by the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Adaptive Management (GLAM) Committee, a sub-committee to the IJC’s International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board, International Niagara Board of Control, and the International Lake Superior Board of Control. The GLAM Committee provides all of the Great Lakes control Boards, including the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board, with the scientific data and analysis required to review the performance of regulation plans so that the Boards can evaluate potential changes to those plans. The GLAM Committee has already started executing tasks in support of this expedited review to help the Board with key decisions for this spring.
“The IJC is committed to making this an open and transparent review and is in the process of creating a special advisory group to support the GLAM Committee through this process,” according to Jane Corwin, US Co-Chair of the IJC. This advisory group will be made up of people representing a wide range of interests throughout the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system. “The advisory group will create an invaluable, direct connection between the review and those impacted by water levels and flows throughout the system,” said Pierre Béland, Canadian Co-Chair of the IJC.
No regulation plan will be able to prevent the extremely high water levels and flows experienced during these periods of record-setting water supplies. However, the IJC remains fully committed to finding the best solutions possible for managing levels and flows, especially during these periods of extreme conditions.