IJC to review rule curves

Press Release

The International Joint Commission is announcing the formation of the International Rainy and Namakan Lakes Rule Curve Study Board.
It will make scientifically-supported recommendations to the IJC for modifying or retaining the 2000 Rainy and Namakan Lakes rule curves after reviewing the wide range of hydrologic, hydraulic, cultural, and environmental factors.
The Rainy and Namakan Lake rule curves provide upper and lower target elevations for those lakes, and are used in managing water levels and flows.
The rule curves will be evaluated using socio-economic performance indicators, such as emergency high and low water levels, flooding damage to structures and cultural resources, hydropower production, and tourism, as well as environmental indicators, such as wetland health (cattails, wild rice, and submerged plants), loon nesting, and fish spawning.
“This evaluation is designed to ensure strong civic involvement from organizations and individuals whose daily lives, and livelihoods, are affected by the water levels and flows in the Rainy and Namakan,” explained Canadian IJC Commissioner Richard Morgan.
The IJC has directed the new board to engage with the public throughout the duration of the evaluation.
The IJC also will establish a Rule Curve Public Advisory Committee, which will include representation from lake/property owners’ associations, navigation interests, environmental organizations, First Nations, Métis, and tribes, tourism and recreation interests, and hydropower companies or organizations.
Other interested groups, identified by the board that would be affected by the Rainy and Namakan Lake Rule Curve evaluation, also will be included.
Individuals or organizations interested in participating in the advisory committee can contact the IJC directly at Commission@ottawa.org or Commission@washington.ijc.org
Results of previously-conducted technical studies will be integrated in a shared vision model, which is a decision-making tool linking the hydrology and the water levels under different rule-curve scenarios to the various performance indicators so options can be evaluated.
“Building on the experience from other IJC studies in other watersheds, we are confident that the shared vision model will capture the diversity of interests and impacts of this complex basin,” said U.S. Commissioner Rich Moy.
“The shared vision model will also be used to evaluate the performance of the rule curves under various climate change scenarios,” he added.
The bi-national board will oversee the evaluation work, manage outreach and stakeholder engagement, write reports, and provide recommendations to the IJC.
The latter may include recommended modifications to the existing 2000 Rule Curves, depending on the modelled performance of rule curve alternatives.
The IJC was established under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to help Canada and the U.S. prevent and resolve disputes of the use of the waters the two countries share.
Under the treaty, the IJC is responsible for regulating shared water uses, investigating trans-boundary issues, and recommending solutions to both governments.