Flood damage around Lake Champlain in 2011. Credit: Vermont.gov.
The Honorable Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced that the Government of Canada is taking action to address the risks associated with recurrent floods in the Lake Champlain – Richelieu River basin, located in southern Quebec, northeastern New York State and northwestern Vermont.
After careful review of the recommendations made by the International Joint Commission (IJC) in its July 2013 report, Plan of Study for the Identification of Measures to Mitigate Flooding and the Impacts of Flooding of Lake Champlain and Richelieu River, Canada and the United States have asked the IJC to proceed with its implementation and explore more fully the causes, impacts, risks and potential solutions to the flooding issues in the Lake Champlain – Richelieu River basin.
The IJC has extensive and unique experience in handling the full range of regional transboundary water issues, including its high-quality work on a previous request related to flooding issues in the Lake Champlain R ichelieu River basin. The International Lake Champlain-Richelieu River Technical Working Group presented to the IJC its final report and technical reports on November 30, 2015.
‘The Government of Canada welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with our Quebec and United States colleagues, as well as with the IJC, to address long-standing risks associated with flooding in the Lake Champlain-Richelieu River basin. We count on their continued cooperation as we further assess flooding and mitigation measures in the Lake Champlain-Richelieu River water basin. This work will improve the physical, social and economic security of residents on both sides of the border.’ – Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Recognizing that changing conditions in boundary water basins have significant implications for economic, social and environmental interests along the border, the Government of Canada allocated up to $19.5 million over five years in the 2016 Budget to enable Canada to study water quality, quantity and flooding issues in four Canada-U.S. boundary basins. Of this, $7.53 million will be allocated to the IJC to explore potential flood plain management solutions and a range of moderate structural and non-structural flood prevention and mitigation measures in the Lake Champlain-Richelieu River basin.
‘Reducing the risks and effects of flooding will have a real and positive impact on the lives of residents in the Lake Champlain-Richelieu River basin. The work of the IJC, in collaboration with federal, provincial and local efforts, will contribute to ensure a secure and sustainable future for the people in this region, particularly with respect to water quality.’ – Denis Paradis, Member of Parliament for Brome-Missisquoi
Facts About the IJC and Lake Champlain–Richelieu River Basin Flooding
- Established by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909, the IJC is a binational organization mandated to prevent and resolve disputes, primarily those concerning water quantity and quality, along the Canada-U.S. border.
- Canada’s participation in the IJC is the responsibility of Global Affairs Canada. The Canadian share of the IJC’s annual budget ranges between $6 and $8 million and is allocated through the federal government’s annual budget and appropriations process.
- The IJC’s 2013 report, Plan of Study for the Identification of Measures to Mitigate Flooding and the Impacts of Flooding of Lake Champlain and Richelieu River, will serve as the basis for ongoing work.
- The Richelieu River flood in spring 2011 was arguably the worst overland inundation in southern Quebec since Confederation and Quebec’s worst natural disaster since the Saguenay flood in 1996. In at least 20 municipalities, waters inundated streets up to a kilometre from the riverbanks. Water did not just drain into the Richelieu River, southerly winds also pushed metre-high waves into the river from Lake Champlain. With overpowering force, water surged north at volumes as much as five times greater than the Richelieu River’s average year-round flow.