Expedited Review of Plan 2014
Plan 2014 is the plan for regulating Lake Ontario outflows that went into effect in 2017. In two of the first three years after the plan was adopted, extremely wet conditions caused record floods on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. In response to public concerns about these extraordinarily high water levels, the International Joint Commission (IJC) asked its Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Adaptive Management (GLAM) Committee to launch an expedited review of Plan 2014.
The GLAM Committee prioritized activities in a two-phase approach that formally began in February 2020. The first phase of the expedited review focuses on providing information to the IJC’s International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board (ILOSLRB) during this ongoing period of near-record high inflows from Lake Erie.
As an initial step in this process, preliminary investigations were launched in fall 2019 to provide data quickly that the ILOSLRB could use to set Lake Ontario outflows. These early results helped the ILOSLRB set Lake Ontario outflows more effectively in the spring of 2020.
The second phase will look at how Plan 2014 addresses extreme high and low water levels over the longer term. The GLAM Committee will advise the ILOSLRB on whether adjustments to the plan might make sense, not just for the current conditions, but overall. Any changes to Plan 2014 would need to be approved by the IJC and agreed to by the Governments of Canada and the United States.
Public Involvement in the Expedited Review
When funding for Phase 1 was secured, the IJC appointed a Public Advisory Group based on nominations from the GLAM Committee. Members are leaders from shoreline associations, boating and tourism groups, environmental organizations, local governments, commercial navigation, First Nations and hydropower.
The Public Advisory Group will help the GLAM Committee seek potential improvements to regulation by contributing knowledge about water level impacts and input on the assessment methods. Public Advisory Group members have also been asked to help foster a two-way dialogue between the GLAM Committee and affected interests and constituencies. In addition to the work being done by the Public Advisory Group, the GLAM Committee will also seek broader public comment on the expedited review.
The IJC and ILOSLRB are committed to listening to the concerns and needs of all stakeholders in seeking potential improvements to Plan 2014. The IJC hopes that the expedited review will help reduce the risk of coastal impacts, but recognizes that no plan can prevent flooding when extremely wet conditions occur. Another hope is that the process will increase public understanding about the impacts of weather conditions, water supply, and human influences on water levels, including the limits of any regulation plan.