Great Lakes Regional Water Management
Goal: Management of the Great Lakes water in a sustainable manner that balances the needs for competing interests; Treaty compliance.
The Great Lakes and Ohio River Division (LRD) supports three LRD Districts (Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo) and the International Joint Commission (IJC) through:
- The LRD Commander serving as the US Chair for the Lake Superior, Niagara, and St. Lawrence River Boards of Control as well as the Niagara Committee. LRD Water Management staff members serve as the US Secretary for the same boards and committees.
- LRD staff has key leadership roles and participates in special studies at the request of the IJC. Currently these studies include the International Upper Great Lakes Adaptive Management Task Team and the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River Working Group.
- LRD staff provides program and technical support to the three Great Lakes Districts in the form of Community of Practice development and joint information management and messaging to stakeholders.
International Joint Commission
The Great Lakes Basin has 14,000 miles of shoreline and contains 95,000 square miles of water and covers 200,000 square miles of land over 8 States & 2 Provinces.
The 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty signed on January 11, 1909, established the legal foundation and guiding principles for the U.S. and Canada to prevent and, if needed, resolve disputes related to shared water resources. The Boundary Waters Treaty established the IJC to assist the governments in implementing the terms of the Treaty and in finding solutions to problems in these waters.
The boundary waters are used for many purposes, including potable and industrial water supply, receiving treated wastewater, hydroelectric power generation, irrigation of agricultural lands, recreational and commercial navigation. In some cases, the IJC is empowered to authorize a particular use of the waters, while protecting competing interests in accordance with rules set out in the Treaty.
The IJC has six Commissioners, three appointed by the President with the advice and approval of the Senate, and three appointed by the Governor in Council of Canada, on the advice of the Prime Minister. Each Commissioner must act impartially, in reviewing problems and deciding on issues, rather than representing the views of their respective governments.