The Current January 2022

In 2016, as a result of catastrophic flooding along Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River in spring 2011, the governments of Canada and the United States instructed the International Joint Commission (IJC) to “fully explore the causes, impacts, risks and solutions to flooding in the Lake Champlain-Richelieu River basin.” The IJC established a Study Board to oversee the Study and provide recommendations. The IJC also established a Public Advisory Group to assist the Study Board with engaging the public over the course of the Study. The Public Advisory Group publishes this bimonthly newsletter to help keep the public informed about the Lake Champlain Richelieu River (LCRR) flooding Study. 

Letter from the Public Advisory Group Co-Chairs 

As we wind down the LCRR study, we are eager to share findings of the many technical working groups that have addressed the four key themes of the study: reducing water levels through Richelieu River-focused structural solutions, storing water in watersheds that contribute to Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River, adapting floodplain management, and enhancing flood forecasting and emergency response planning. A variety of reports, report summaries and educational videos are in development to aid members of communities throughout the Lake Champlain-Richelieu River Basin to understand study findings and resulting recommendations.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges, including preventing the Study members from working in person for the better part of two years, there have been some positive outcomes. It has resulted in the study board’s ability to leverage technologies that we believe will aid  in sharing knowledge with the public and stakeholders, as well as hear their feedback.  Specifically, we are excited to be able to host virtual public meetings in the new year that will utilize live translation to allow individuals who speak either French or English to participate together from locations across the basin and beyond. Live translations and virtual participation will allow meeting participants to hear from many voices in the basin. This will allow participants to better understand support for, or concerns about how study recommendations might impact an individual, community, business, or ecosystem in a certain part of the basin, and build understanding of how flooding has impacted people in the past and how proposed mitigation solutions might mitigate future impacts.

 Madeleine Papineau, Canadian Co-Chair                    Kristine Stepenuck, US Co-Chair 


Study News

Upcoming Virtual Public Meetings and Public Comment Period

As the Study Board prepares to make its recommendations to the IJC, we will host virtual public meetings this February to present the key study findings and draft recommendations and offer the public an opportunity to provide feedback and ask questions to study experts.

Two meetings will be held on February 8th in the morning and in the evening. Both meetings will have live translation services available so that attendees can listen and participate in both English and French.  Registration is mandatory to attend the public meetings, so please sign up now using the links below. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions for joining the meeting. See details below:

Date: Tuesday February 8, 2022

Location: Virtual Meeting (Zoom videoconferencing platform)

Times: 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM ET  Register Here

7:00 PM - 9:00 PM ET  Register Here

We look forward to seeing you at the public meetings and learning your views on the study’s key outcomes. The public meetings will also kick off a month-long public comment period where you will be able to learn more about the Study Board’s report to the International Joint Commission, and share your written comments with the Board.

Update on Study Work

The LCRR Study is in its final months, and the Study Board and its technical working groups are synthesizing the years of work, reports and materials into recommendations that will be provided to the International Joint Commission upon the study conclusion in March.

In addition to its final report, the Study is also working on a number of important products that will be beneficial for planners and emergency management agencies throughout the LCRR basin. Among these are the ISEE (Integrated Socio-Economic and Environmental) technical model that incorporates a range of performance indicators to evaluate the impacts of various scenarios; improved real-time flood forecasting and mapping tools developed by U.S. and Canadian partner agencies; and a dedicated review of the social, political and economic aspects of flooding and potential mitigation measures. The Study’s Data Products Committee is currently working on making  products and data available after the study’s completion.

Performance Indicator 

One of the many criteria reviewed by LCRR Study experts are “Performance Indicators” that look at how society, the environment and the economy could be affected by floods and by a change in water levels if a particular flood mitigation measure were implemented.

One such “PI” is wild rice – an aquatic self-sowing annual grass that has been a staple for Indigenous people in North America for thousands of years and serves as a beneficial cover and habitat for ducks raising their young, as well as important nursery areas for fish and amphibians. Wild rice is also a food source for a wide range of wildlife including muskrats, deer, moose, beaver and more.

A versatile plant, wild rice also helps maintain water quality in wetlands by stabilizing soils, utilizing nutrients and providing a natural windbreak over shallow water areas, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Wild rice seeds germinate between late April and early May, and ideal water depths are between 0.5 meters (1.6 feet) and 1.2 meters (3.9 feet). During what’s called the “floating stage” for wild rice — the five weeks following germination — the plant is most sensitive to varying water levels. Too much water and the plants may be ripped out by the force of the water, while too little water could bend and flatten the plants. The Study used wild rice and many other performance indicators to assess the various flood mitigation measures it considered from environmental, social and economic perspectives.

The PAG (Public Advisory Group) 

As the study nears completion, the Public Advisory Group holds a critical role in providing community perspectives on the upcoming recommendations from the Study Board. The 12 members of the PAG include individuals from Canada and the United States throughout the watershed . We introduce you to the final three members in this issue of The Current.  

Renee Rouleau lives on the waterfront of Lake Champlain in Quebec, and her research focus was influenced by the 2011 flood. At the time, she was studying municipal law and decided to concentrate on the legal aspects of government intervention before, during and after floods. She has been a member of the council of the watershed organization OBVBM for six years, and was mayor of Saint-Georges-of Clarenceville from 2013-2020. Her academic and professional background have benefited the PAG as she has shared her perspective both as a municipal planner and an elected official. Renee has more than 30 years of municipal affairs and sustainable development experience, and can be seen sailing out on the lake whenever time permits.



Mark Malchoff spent most of his career conducting outreach and research projects on mortality in catch-and-release fisheries, and the prevention of aquatic invasive species spread — including efforts to limit the spread of invasive organisms through the Champlain Canal. He worked for Lake Champlain Sea Grant and New York Sea Grant for a total of 35 years before retiring in December of 2020. Mark has relied on his science communication skills to review and provide feedback on approaches, products, and findings of the Study Board.




Steve Peters has served communities along the shores of Lake Champlain for years — first as Superintendent of Recreation of the City of Plattsburgh, and then as Village Administrator for the Village of Rouses Point. His extensive resource management experience has helped provide a nuanced perspective to the PAG, especially where feasibility, plan outcomes and long-term sustainability are driving forces.


On the Web 

The Study Board is pleased to release one of its sub-reports entitled, “Flood Water Storage using Active and Passive Approaches”. The report examines the effect that wetlands in the basin have on slowing the flow of water from Lake Champlain tributaries during floods, and models the effects of creating additional wetlands in the basin and using agricultural land to store more water during flooding. The report and a fact sheet summarizing the key findings are available on the web.

Stay updated on the Study Board’s work by signing up to receive electronic updates via our email distribution list. Click on our home page ( and scroll to the bottom to join.