Repairs to the St. Mary canal in Montana are now complete.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation began diverting water from the St. Mary River to the Milk River via its newly repaired St. Mary Canal on October 8. The canal is expected to operate for the remainder of October, then undergo its normal shutdown for the winter.
The Boundary Waters Treaty governs the sharing of waters of international streams between Canada and the United States and established an International Joint Commission (IJC) to monitor compliance and resolve disputes.
The 1921 Order of the IJC set the St. Mary River at the international boundary, and the Milk River at the eastern crossing of the international boundary as the points where apportionment occurs. It also outlined the roles for Accredited Officers (AOs) for the St. Mary and Milk Rivers. One officer is appointed by each of Canada and the U.S. to measure and apportion the water.
The AOs calculate the natural flow volumes, and the apportioned shares for each country, twice per month. The AOs signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) in 2001; it is a mutually beneficial agreement allowing each country to use more of its allotted share during seasonal low flow periods.
The following infographic explains the apportionment procedures, including the LOI.
History of the 1921 Order
In April, 2003, the Governor of Montana asked the IJC to review the 1921 Order. The IJC held four public information sessions in 2004, to gather information on the sharing of the Milk and St. Mary Rivers.
Later that year, the commission established the International St. Mary/ Milk Rivers Administrative Measures Task Force, with four members each from Canada and the United States.
The task force released a draft report in April 2006 for public comment, available on the commission's website.
To view a summary of Alberta's perspective on the task force report, and the Government of Alberta's formal submission to the task force, see the following:
- Alberta's Perspective on the IJC Task Force Report
- Alberta's Comments on the International St. Mary-Milk Rivers Report
- Text, History and Geography of the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty and the 1921 Order of the International Joint Commission
- Sharing the Waters: Alberta's perspective on the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty
The Government of Alberta (August 2004) submission to the IJC consisted of an overall submission as well as submissions from Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (now Alberta Agriculture and Forestry) and Alberta Environment (now Alberta Environment and Parks).
- Alberta's Submission to the International Joint Commission
- Irrigation Development in Alberta
- Water Management Operations
Connect with the Transboundary Waters Secretariat:
Email: [email protected]