IJC announces new structure for its International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board

The International Joint Commission’s (IJC) Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board will decrease to a six-member Board with an equal number of members from the United States and Canada effective December 1, 2020. The Board sets the outflow from Lake Ontario in accordance with the provisions of an order of approval issued by the IJC in 2016.

The re-structured Board will continue to include one member each nominated by the Government of Canada, the Government of the United States, the Province of Quebec, the Province of Ontario and the State of New York and will include one additional member on the US side to ensure equal membership from both countries. Board members will continue to serve in their personal and professional capacity and consider interests of the entire Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system. The Board’s online membership page will be updated when the change takes effect.

“On behalf of IJC Commissioners, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all members of the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board who have served above and beyond the call in recent years and have provided excellent leadership in the face of extremely challenging conditions,” said Pierre Béland, chair of the IJC’s Canadian Section.

Due to high water events in recent years, IJC Commissioners initiated a thorough review of the Board’s regulation plan and decision-making process. The restructuring is being implemented at this time because the Commission wishes to have the new structure in place before the spring.

To broaden input from the public, stakeholders and Indigenous communities, the IJC will be establishing an advisory group to the Board. Members of the advisory group will provide information and advice directly to the Board to ensure that the Board is aware of potential impacts and fully considers their diverse perspectives. The Board will also continue to rely on engineering and technical expertise from both countries.

As a first step, the IJC is appointing a smaller interim advisory group effective at the same time as the re-structured Board.

“The restructuring represents a streamlined approach for this Board,” said Jane Corwin, chair of the IJC’s US Section. “Commissioners enlarged the Board last year, but after careful consideration determined that a smaller decision-making body with input from a more-inclusive advisory body would be more effective and appropriate.”

The IJC was established by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to help the governments of Canada and the United States prevent and resolve disputes over use of the waters shared by the two countries. When asked by the two governments, the IJC approves projects in boundary waters, such as the Moses-Saunders Power Dam, that affect natural water levels and flows across the boundary. The IJC sets conditions and criteria that operators of the dam must meet when managing flows through the project.