Outflow Strategy
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Copyrights : International St. Lawrence River Board of Control

Lake Ontario Outflow Strategy
(December 20, 2001)

While all of the Great Lakes are still below their average levels, the above average precipitation of the past two months has improved conditions relative to last year at this time. Lakes Ontario, Erie and Michigan-Huron are 7 cm (3 in.), 2 cm (1 in.), and 26 cm (10 in.), respectively, higher than one year ago. Rains along the St. Lawrence River valley and Ottawa River basin continue to ease the low water level problems in the Montreal region of the St. Lawrence River.

On December 10, 2001, the water level on Lake Ontario was at 74.51 m (244.46 feet), about 2 cm (1 in.) below the long-term average for that time of year. The water levels at most loca-tions in the Thousand Islands area of the St. Lawrence River were below average by a similar amount. Downstream, the Lake St. Louis and Montreal Harbour levels have risen and are now about 32 cm and 65 cm (13 in and 26 in.) respectively, lower than average. Two months ago, Lake Ontario was about 12 cm (5 in.) below average, while Montreal Harbour was about 84 cm (33 in.) below average. Montreal Harbour is now 40 Ė 50 cm (16 Ė 20 in.) above chart datum. Flows from the Ottawa River into Lake St. Louis and the harbour are expected to remain above average.

During the fall of 2001, the International St. Lawrence River Board of Control (Board) used some of the water that it had conserved on Lake Ontario last fall and winter, to prevent excess-ively low water levels on Lake St. Louis, and to assist navigation on Lake St. Louis and at the Port of Montreal. About 2.9 cm (1 in.) of conserved water remains on Lake Ontario.

With the level of Lake Erie still 14 cm (5? in.) below its long-term average, the supply of water to Lake Ontario from that lake is expected to remain below average during the coming months. If weather conditions on Lake Ontario basin are near average, its levels should continue to rise slowly and peak next summer at about its long-term average of 75.04 m (246.2 ft.).

At a teleconference on December 14, 2001, the Board considered these and other relevant conditions and decided on the following regulation outflow strategy for the next 3 months:

Generally, outflows specified by Plan 1958-D will be followed. The Board will use opportunities, if any, for underdischarge to conserve up to an additional 5 cm (2 in.) of water on Lake Ontario. Such opportunities might arise if outflows are reduced to below Plan 1958-D specified amounts to assist in ice formation, or due to limited hydropower generation capacity. Critical needs of hydropower and navigation will be met.

The Board intends to review this strategy in mid-February, or before if conditions require.

The International Joint commission was created under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to help prevent and resolve disputes over the use of waters along the Canada-United States boundary. Its responsibilities include approving certain projects that would change water levels on the other side of the boundary, such as the international hydropower project at Massena, New York and Cornwall, Ontario. When it approves a project, the Commissionís Orders of Approval may require that flows through the project meet certain conditions to protect interests in both countries. For more information, visit the Commissionís website at www.ijc.org.

The International St. Lawrence River Board of Control was established by the International Joint Commission, mainly to ensure that outflows from Lake Ontario meet the requirements of the Commissionís Orders of Approval. For more information, visit the Boardís website at www.islrbc.org.

For Release: December 20, 2001


Reg Golding, Ottawa, Ontario (613) 998-1408

John Kangas, Chicago, Illinois (312) 353-4333