International Joint Commission
The Commission has responsibilities related to the following treaties and agreements:
- Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909
- Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1978, amended 1987
- Air Quality Agreement (1991)
The Commission is implemented in Canada by the Boundary Waters Treaty Act of the Canadian Parliament. Canada funds the IJC with about $4 million annually.
Purpose and aims
The purpose of the Commission is to help prevent and resolve disputes about the use and quality of boundary waters and to advise Canada and the United States on questions about water resources. The Commission holds public meetings every two years to discuss progress in cleaning up the Great Lakes and issues related to boundary rivers and trans-national rivers. It also sponsors conferences, meetings and round table discussions where members of the public and representatives of community groups and other organizations can take part.
The Commission investigates issues only when requested to do so by both nations. Its recommendations are not binding.
The Commission has jurisdiction over the Great Lakes–Saint Lawrence River waters and other waters along the border. In the west, the Commission established conditions for dams on the Kootenay, Okanogan, and Columbia Rivers, which cross through the states of Washington, Idaho and Montana, and the province of British Columbia. The Commission has also assisted in drafting rules for sharing the St. Mary and Milk rivers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Montana. The Commission has been involved in how the Souris River and Red River systems are shared among Saskatchewan, Manitoba and North Dakota. It also sets emergency water levels for the Rainy Lake system, including the Lake of the Woods, which crosses through Minnesota, Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. Protection of Rainy River water quality is also addressed by the IJC. In the east, the Commission regulates dams and protects the water quality on the St. Croix River, which flows through New Brunswick and Maine.
Organization and boards
The Commission is headed by six commissioners, three from each country. Canadian commissioners earn up to C$169,800 a year, the chair up to C$209,200. Currently, the three Canadian commissioners are Joe Comuzzi (Canadian Chair), Pierre Trepanier, and Lyall Knott; on the US side are commissioners Lana Pollack (US Chair), Dereth Glance and Rich Moy.
The Commission has three offices, in Ottawa, Washington, DC, and Windsor, Ontario. The Windsor Great Lakes Regional Office (GLRO) was created under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA). It is staffed by a bi-national team of US and Canadian scientists and support staff.
Separate boards are responsible for particular boundary waters issues. When there are special issues, a Task Force is assigned to make a report or recommendations. The various standing bodies are:
- Council of Great Lakes Research Managers
- Great Lakes Science Advisory Board
- Great Lakes Water Quality Board
- International Air Quality Advisory Board
- International Columbia River Board of Control
- International Kootenay Lake Board of Control
- International Lake Superior Board of Control
- International Lake of the Woods Control Board
- International Niagara Board of Control
- International Osoyoos Lake Board of Control
- International Rainy Lake Board of Control
- International Rainy River Water Pollution Board
- International Red River Board
- International Souris River Board
- International St. Croix River Board
- International St. Lawrence River Board of Control
- Larry Pynn, "Water woes, water wars?", Vancouver Sun, August 10, 2007