The Future of the St. Lawrence River

by Heids on October 7, 2016 - 8:58pm

Diana Mehta of the Canadian Press wrote an article for the Toronto Star titled ‘St. Lawrence River is ‘slowly dying’ U.S. environmental group warns’. In this article from April 13, 2016, Mehta explains that the Moses-Saunders Hydropower Dam is actually harming the river system by not allowing natural variability in water levels, which are vital to maintaining a rivers health, according to the environmental group. The environmental group has asked the U.S. and Canadian governments to work together to safeguard the river and by doing so, help the wildlife in the area as well. A new strategy exists to combat this environmental issue – called plan 2014 – which was put together by both governments to deal with issues relating to boundary waters. This plan would allow more natural variation in water levels in the river in order to restore the health of the ecosystem.

            For this particular situation, where the resource at hand is on the Canada/U.S. border, there are two states involved in the management of the resource. The Moses- Saunders dam has restricted natural variation in water levels, which negatively impacted the surrounding wetlands, and wildlife/biodiversity in the area. The States ultimately control the way in which the water behaves with the dam, now that there are concerns for the health of the ecosystem they must use that material power to try to repair the damage done. Plan 2014 allows for more natural variation in water levels, which will not have negative impacts, but positive ones on economy and ecology including biodiversity and overall ecosystem health.

Luckily, there doesn’t appear to be conflict between the two States, they are both working towards a common goal for the management of the St. Lawrence river which is an important flow resource. The only conflict I could think of having potential to be an issue would be the dam itself and whether Plan 2014 would decrease productivity in order to help restore the ecosystem. However, the International Joint Commission explains that the Plan 2014 actually increases the amount of energy produced by the dam. I believe the IJC is responsible for eliminating conflict between the two states. The IJC allows both states to share their understanding of the issue, find similar goals to achieve, and focuses the interest on both economic and ecological benefits, ultimately eliminating conflict. I think Plan 2014 is a good idea, designing the dam in a way that allows water levels to vary will, hopefully, restore ecosystem health while at the same time, producing more energy than before.  With this plan, the dam can continue to produce energy while also allowing more natural variation in water levels in hopes to improve ecosystem health and biodiversity.

            Plan 2014 that was created by the IJC with both economic and ecological interests in mind, by allowing water levels to fluctuate in a more natural manner while creating slightly more energy than before. I believe that with the improvement of the dam, the river will be able to facilitate more biodiversity and as a flow resource, I believe with Plan 2014, it will be more sustainable and continue to thrive for generations to come. 




Mehta, D. (n.d.). St. Lawrence River is ‘slowly dying,’ U.S. environmental group warns. The Star. Retrieved from


Your blog post was very eye opening and touched on a subject that is very close to me. I live along the St. Lawrence River, and I have been associated with many initiatives that work to restore and preserve the quality of the river. I have never considered the effects of the dam which are associated with a lack of natural fluctuating water levels and it really brought to light the importance of multi stakeholder involvement when dealing with cross boundary issues such as this one. Overall, I really enjoyed reading your blog post and I felt that it provided great insight into the complexity of conserving our waterways.

I enjoyed reading your blog post and I find it very refreshing to read about an environmental case that has led to cooperation between the interests of both Canada and the United States as well as between industry and biodiversity preservation. Often, it seems that governments constantly have to chose between economy boosting industry projects and environmental sustainability creating interest and value based conflict that is difficult to overcome. Plan 2014 sounds like it'll allow hydroelectricity to flourish at increased rates as well as promote more variable and natural water flows to resemble more the natural habitat of species in this area, promoting biodiversity. Great job relating this topic to course material and bringing it to the attention of your classmates. It's a very promising and inspiring case of cooperation between states and interests.