International Joint Commission

From Academic Kids

The International Joint Commission is an independent binational organization established by the United States and Canada under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909.

Image:International Joint Commission.jpg

The Commission now has under its aegis the following treaties and agreements

  • Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909
  • Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1978, amended 1987
  • Air Quality Agreement

The Commission is implemented in Canada by the Boundary Waters Treaty Act of the Canadian Parliament.

The Commission is made up of three offices - in Ottawa, Washington D.C. 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 binational team of U.S. and Canadian scientists and support staff. In recent years, the GLRO has suffered funding cuts, greatly limiting its ability to fulfill its commitments under the GLWQA.


Purpose and aims

The purpose of the Commission is to help prevent and resolve disputes relating to the use and quality of boundary waters and to advise Canada and the United States on questions related to water resources. To meet its mandate 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.

Jurisdictions covered

The Commission has jurisdiction over the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River waters and other waters along the border. In the west, the Commission has established conditions for dams on the Kootenay, Osoyoos, 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. In 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 on its agenda. In the east, the Commission regulation of dams and protection of water quality on the St. Croix River, which flows through New Brunswick and Maine, is part of its mandate.

Organizations and Boards

The work of the International Joint Commission is carried out by separate boards that are responsible for particular boundary waters issues. When there are special issues a Task Force will be 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

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