Following recommendations from the International Upper Great Lakes Study, completed in March 2012, the International Joint Commission (IJC) on 17 July 2014 issued a new Supplementary Order of Approval for the regulation of outflows from Lake Superior. The new Order enables the International Lake Superior Board of Control to adopt Regulation Plan 2012 as the means for regulating Lake Superior outflows henceforth. The Board will fully implement Plan 2012 in January 2015.
The Board has been deviating from current Regulation Plan 1977-A since May 2014 using an IJC-approved strategy that will last through December, that incorporates Plan 2012 as a guide for directing the monthly flow releases. The 1977-A regulation plan has been in place since 1990.
Plan 2012 was designed to deliver robust performance under a wide range of possible hydrological conditions, compared to the current plan. Plan 2012 continues to consider the water levels of both Lake Superior and Lake Michigan-Huron, and provides modest benefits for commercial navigation, hydroelectric generation, and coastal zone interests under a broad range of water supply conditions. It will avoid infrequent but serious adverse effects on the spawning habitat of lake sturgeon (an endangered species) in the St. Marys River, and allow for more natural flows in the river overall, as Plan 2012 will provide smaller month-to-month changes in flows compared to the current plan. This is an important factor in the sustainability of the river’s ecosystem.