Water levels on the upper Great Lakes remain lower than average and lower than they were a year ago, with the exception of Lake Erie, which is about where it was a year ago. The level of Lake Ontario fell by 15 cm (5.9 in.) during August, which is similar to its normal August decline of 14 cm (5.5 in.). Approximately 1.5 cm (0.6 in.) of that decline was due to higher outflows to assist in the recovery from the massive power blackout that occurred that month. During the first three weeks of September, the lake fell another 15 cm (5.9 in.). This was a slightly greater than the average drop in levels, and reflects the lack of precipitation on the basin this month. Hurricane Isabel brought very little rain to the Lake Ontario basin. On September 22, the Lake Ontario level was 74.71 m (245.11 ft.), 3 cm (1.2 in.) below its average for this time of year. Lake St. Louis and Port of Montreal levels have decreased since August, and on September 22, were 34 and 78 cm (13,4 and 30,7 in.) below average, respectively. As a result of the Boardís actions this spring and summer, there are approximately 2.6 cm (1.0 in.) of water conserved on Lake Ontario relative to the level that would have occurred if Plan 1958-D had been followed exactly.
Forecasts indicate that the level of Lake Ontario will remain near average until the second half of October under average water supply conditions and that outflows would be near-normal amounts for the remainder of the year.
The Board reviewed these and other conditions on September 22-23, 2003 and agreed to maintain the same strategy as was announced on September 16. The long-term strategy, in consideration of the continued below average levels on the upper Great Lakes and within current system constraints, is to ensure that enough water remains in Lake Ontario to meet critical needs later in the year. The short-term strategy is to retain as much as possible of the water already conserved on Lake Ontario. To accomplish this, outflows will generally be as determined by Regulation Plan 1958-D into October, except for the following deviations:
The Board, in conjunction with its staff, will continue to monitor the situation and act accordingly. The Board intends to review this strategy at its next regularly scheduled teleconference the week of October 6.
This information can also be found on the Board web site (see below) and will be updated as required.
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: September 30, 2003
Reg Golding, Ottawa, Ontario (613) 998-1408
John Kangas, Chicago, Illinois (312) 353-4333