Minister of Finance Morneau announces funding support for Upper Great Lakes water levels


OTTAWA -- The federal government tabled a new budget Tuesday acknowledging long standing concerns about water levels in the Great Lakes and providing hope for resolution.

"It's gratifying that, the Canadian Government is moving forward following the IJC’s advice to help protect and restore the finite waters of the Great Lakes. Our team has been working on this since 2002. Delaying best mitigation options leaves the Great Lakes vulnerable facing climate change impacts and is ultimately costly to the environment and the economy. It’s important to act now." Says Mary Muter, Chair Great Lakes Project, Sierra Club Canada Foundation.

Our new federal government is clearly behind the International Joint Commission (IJC), who in 2013, recommended the following: “The Commission recommends that the Governments undertake further investigation of structural options to restore water levels in Lake Michigan-Huron by 13 to 25 cm (about 5 to 10 in).”

Over a decade of extreme low water levels have been harming wetlands and the fish communities dependent on them. The new government in Ottawa recognizes the problem exacerbated by over 100 years of navigation dredging, shoreline hardening and the removal of sand supply from the St. Clair River. With this budget the IJC will finally receive funding needed to determine the best option to restore the St. Clair River and compensate for the loss of water from the Upper Great Lakes.

"We consider the Federal Budget 2016 commitment an important step forward to protect the Great Lakes. We need to develop the ability to retain water in all the Great Lakes not just Lakes Ontario and Superior. Now that everyone can see that we, the IJC, and our Federal government are together on measures to save the Great Lakes from future extreme levels, let's all pull together to make effective progress.” adds Muter.

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From the: Federal Budget, Chapter 4: A Clean Growth Economy

Subhead: Protecting and Restoring Canada's Ecosystems and Natural Heritage

“Managing Transboundary Water Issues

Canada and the United States share 20 per cent of the world's freshwater in the Great Lakes alone, and jointly manage countless other lakes and rivers. The International Joint Commission is the binational body that manages these Canada-U.S. transboundary waters. These waters are of great economic, environmental and symbolic value to Canadians, and how we manage them is of utmost importance. In recent years, flooding, variable water levels and water quality have affected four important water basins that straddle the Canada-U.S. border—the Upper Great Lakes, Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River, Lake of the Woods and the Souris River.

Budget 2016 proposes to provide up to $19.5 million over five years, starting in 2016–17, to the International Joint Commission to enable Canada to match U.S. funding to study these issues in order to protect the local environment and communities.”


Sierra Club Canada Foundation

Sierra Club Canada Foundation is a registered charity that funds leading-edge projects to restore and preserve the environment. Our success depends on the support of like-minded individuals and organizations whose generous donations make our work possible.

The Great Lakes Project of Sierra Club Canada Foundation (SCCF) is a team of volunteers that first identified the connection between ongoing erosion of the upper St. Clair River following over 100 years of dredging, shoreline alterations and removal of sand supply and the recent unprecedented 14 years of extreme low water levels on Lakes Michigan, Huron and Georgian Bay. SCCF has funded seminal research by McMaster University to assess and classify Georgian Bay wetlands - the most extensive, diverse,  sensitive, high quality wetlands found anywhere in the Great Lakes. SCCF’s Great Lakes Project works in education and outreach to improve the conditions of all the Great Lakes.


Mary Muter, Chair Great Lakes Project,

Sierra Club Canada Foundation

Phone: 905-833-2020, email:

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