Backgrounder - Lake of the Woods and Rainy River watershed


In 2010, following expressions of concern about water quality by the residents of the Lake of the Woods Basin, the governments of Canada and the United States requested that the International Joint Commission (IJC) examine and make recommendations regarding the binational management of the international waters of the Lake of the Woods and Rainy River watershed, which is located where the Ontario, Manitoba and Minnesota borders meet.

In its January 2012 report, the IJC recommended that a water quality plan of study be developed for the Lake of the Woods Basin in order to better understand the issues in the Basin and inform effective next steps.

With the support of both governments, the IJC subsequently prepared a water quality plan of study and issued its final report and recommendations to governments in January 2015. The plan of study focused on the problem of the adverse effects on water quality and human health caused by excess algae, as well as the threats posed by aquatic invasive species and the effects of mining.

The Government of Canada’s 2016 Budget proposed up to $19.5 million over five years, starting in fiscal year 2016 to 2017, to  study water quality, quantity and flooding issues in four Canada-United States boundary basins with the goal of protecting the local environment and communities.

Of that amount, $5.5 million in funding is being allocated to Environment and Climate Change Canada to undertake the required science and monitoring to implement, with the United States, a binational science plan for the Lake of the Woods Basin. The scientific knowledge already developed by Canada and the United States in addressing water quality in Lake Erie will inform and benefit the work to be undertaken in the Lake of the Woods Basin.

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Hon. Stéphane Dion Global Affairs Canada Government and Politics

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