Imagine there are no borders. Erase the borders and have one lake, one watershed, shared management.

This is what the Foundation and its international partners have achieved on Lake of the Woods. With the International Joint Commission, the International Multi-Agency Arrangement and our International Watershed Coordinator, we have built a platform for the future, to work together on joint research, management and protection of Lake of the Woods.

IJC Watershed Board — A Borderless Platform for the Future

The establishment of the new IJC International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board is a milestone achievement! It replaces borders and jurisdictional barriers with a watershed approach and mechanism for local peoples and resource management agencies to work together, irrespective of jurisdiction. After all, it's about the lake and the watershed. Now that we have this in place, research and management momentum can move forward effectively.

The Foundation's Executive Director, Todd Sellers, is participating as a member of the watershed board and co-chair its Aquatic Ecosystem Health Committee. The Foundation's International Watershed Coordinator, Kelli Saunders, is working with the board to coordinate the development of study plans to address priority transboundary issues such as nutrient enrichment and harmful algal blooms; aquatic invasive species; climate change impacts and surface and ground water contamination.

The IMA — The Engine for Research & Management Collaboration

We are proud of helping to form the International Multi-Agency Arrangement (IMA). The IMA has erased the borders and barriers to collaboration among agencies of both countries sharing Lake of the Woods. The IMA is an international arrangement for cooperation on research and management, among eight government agencies, the Foundation and one American Tribe. It is the implementation mechanism for both research and management components of a sustainability plan for our lake.

Since inception in 2009, IMA has evolved into a powerhouse for collaborative research and management. It is a key technical resource to the IJC watershed board and to the IJC team working on the Lake of the Woods basin water quality study plans. Key achievements of the IMA include:

  • Inter-agency data sharing and laboratory proficiency comparisons
  • A hydrologic model for the watershed
  • A historical nutrient budget for Lake of the Woods
  • A lake thermal modeling study to assess climatic impacts on algae
  • Studies of phosphorus release from the lake sediments
  • Funding of a critical measurement gauge in international waters.

The IMA played a crucial role in developing the Lake of the Woods Basin Water Quality Plan of Study, providing technical advice to the IJC study team. The IMA is expected to be heavily involved in executing the studies and in implementing any remedial and management actions that follow. 

The International Watershed Coordinator—Keeping Us Working Together

IWCvenn2016 02 22Our International Watershed Coordination Program (IWCP) provides bi-national coordination and communication of research, management and citizen engagement for the shared waters of the Rainy-Lake of the Woods basin.

Kelli Saunders is the Foundation's International Watershed Coordinator. A dedicated resource leading the Foundation's program to support and coordinate research, management and civic engagement initiatives underway internationally across our watershed. She keeps the three main spheres of activity in the watershed working together effectively:

  • International Joint Commission (IJC) and its International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board (IRLWWB)
  • The International Multi Agency Arrangement (IMA) research and management collaboration.
  • Local groups and agencies engaged in watershed activities throughout the bi-national basin.

The Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation established the program in 2012 with the support of the International Joint Commission, Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in partnership with the Koochiching Soil and Water Conservation District.