The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Adaptive Management (GLAM) Committee is a subcommittee to the IJC’s Lake Superior Board of Control, Niagara Board of Control and Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board. GLAM supports ongoing evaluation of the outflow regulation strategies and reports findings to the respective boards.
A current GLAM Committee initiative is to complete an expedited two-phase review of regulation Plan 2014 for Lake Ontario. Extremely wet conditions over the last several years led to record-high water levels and river flows in the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system in 2017 and 2019. In February 2016, the IJC formally asked the GLAM Committee to investigate possible improvements that could be made to Lake Ontario outflow regulation activities.
Phase 1 is an 18- to 24-month review focused on gathering information and developing tools to help inform critical decisions by the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board on how to best manage flow releases under extremely high water level conditions, with the goal of further moderating flooding.
In May 2020, the IJC established a Public Advisory Group (PAG) to be a voice representing interests within the basin, and to work closely with GLAM on Phase 1 of the Plan 2014 review process.
The PAG includes 18 individuals representing the diverse interests
- The type and range of data necessary to assess impacts of extreme water levels on different interests and geographies within the lake and river system
- Considering how information could best be used to support board decision making and balance different stakeholder interests, both upstream and downstream.
In October 2020, GLAM began working with expert scientists from the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Institute for Water Resources to develop a Decision Support Tool.
The tool brings together the wealth of quantitative and qualitative information collected by the GLAM Committee through years of scientific investigations, surveys and targeted engagement processes. Valuable input from PAG members provided a high degree of socioeconomic consideration. The tool is being created to inform the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board’s decision-making process during extremely high water level conditions. In the future, it also will support the board in assessing impacts associated low water level extremes of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River system.
The Decision Support Tool is still under development. However, positive feedback has been provided by board and PAG members. Planning is underway for public outreach events that will include information about the tool and how it will be used.
In addition to collaborative efforts with the PAG and development of the Decision Support Tool, GLAM hosted a series of meetings with municipal staff in 2020 and 2021 on both sides of the border throughout the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system to better understand issues and concerns of shoreline municipalities related to high water events in recent years.
The GLAM Committee has continued to make an online questionnaire available to shoreline property owners to help understand the impacts experienced due to fluctuating water levels and associated adaptive responses. Find it on the committee’s website at ijc.org/en/glam/questionnaires.
The committee has plans to further engage with Indigenous communities. In addition to hearing from those impacted by recent high-water conditions, GLAM continues to undertake a number of technical studies to assess impacts. The information from these various sources is being used to develop the Decision Support Tool.
The PAG has been an integral adviser to the committee as GLAM Committee members continue to work with the Institute for Water Resources and the board in the design of a modeling process for the Decision Support Tool.
Phase 2 of the review process is expected to begin later this year and scheduled to last three to five
Lynn Greer is the public involvement specialist for the US Army Corps of Engineers, Great Lakes and Ohio River Division. Greer is responsible for communications and public engagement to support the International Joint Commission, respective boards and committees, and to lead collaborative efforts among US and Canadian partners, tribal communities and the public.