The Secretary of State to the British Ambassador (Geddes)
Excellency: My attention has been called to a situation regarding the use of the waters of the Niagara River just above the Falls, [Page 499]which it is considered renders desirable a measure of closer cooperation between this Government and the Government of Canada in the proper preservation of the interests of the two countries.
You may recall that by Article V of the Boundary Waters Treaty, concluded between the United States and Great Britain, January 11, 1909,23 the High Contracting Parties agreed that it was expedient to limit the diversion of waters from the Niagara River so that the level of Lake Erie and the flow of the stream might not be appreciably affected but that the object should be accomplished with the least possible injury to investments already made in the construction of power plants on each side of the River under grants of authority from the State of New York and under licenses authorized by the Dominion of Canada and the Province of Ontario.
It is provided by the treaty that for power purposes the diversion of water shall be limited to a daily aggregate of 20,000 cubic feet per second in the State of New York, and to 36,000 cubic feet per second in the Province of Ontario.
I am informed that on the American side of the River there are at present installed turbo-generators capable of using 23,500 second-feet if operated to maximum capacity, and that a new plant of the Niagara Falls Power Company will, when completed, have a capacity of 10,000 second-feet, thus giving a total installed capacity expressed in second-feet of 33,500 or 13,500 in excess of the diversion permitted by treaty.
It is stated that on the Canadian side the turbo-generators at present installed are, according to estimates, capable of using more than 33,000 second-feet and that the Queenston Plant of the Ontario Hydro-Electric Commission will use approximately 10,000 second-feet when the present project for installing five turbines and generators shall have been carried out, giving a total installed capacity of 43,000 second-feet, or 7,000 second-feet in excess of the diversion permitted by the treaty.
I am informed that upon the completion of these new installations it will be necessary, in order to prevent any violation of the treaty, that some plants on each side of the boundary be operated at less than maximum capacity, or used only as emergency units. This Government contemplates requiring this in connection with the operation of plants on the American side and it is presumed that plans to accomplish the same purpose have been or will be formulated by the Canadian Government. It is conceivable, however, that if the Canadian and American authorities adopt different methods for making the measurements uniform results may not be [Page 500]obtained. In view of the interest which both countries have in the diversion of waters from the Niagara River, it is thought that some arrangement should be made for controlling and measuring the waters diverted on each side of the boundary with a view to securing uniformity of results and proper observance of the treaty provisions.
It is believed that the desired results could be accomplished by placing under a joint board of control to consist of at least one representative designated by each government, the duty of supervising the agencies heretofore established or which may hereafter be established by the two countries for ascertaining the amount of water diverted; also the duty of passing upon the accuracy and sufficiency of the methods in use and compiling, for the use of the two governments, data regarding diversion of water. I am informed that in the case of the United States, the matter could be handled by the Corps of Engineers of the War Department, acting through its agent, The District Engineer, at Buffalo.
I shall be glad if you will bring this matter to the attention of the Canadian Government and will inform me of its views on the subject.