The content of this site has been archived and the site is no longer being updated.


Directive to the
Upper Great Lakes "Plan of Study" Revision Team

The purpose of this directive is to establish and direct the Upper Great Lakes "Plan of Study Revision" Team (Team) to:

  • incorporate a new first phase to examine physical processes and possible ongoing changes in the St. Clair River channel and impacts on levels of Lakes Michigan and Huron
  • incorporate lessons learned from the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Study
  • further streamline the existing Plan of Study (POS) which will now be known as the Upper Lakes Plan of Study (ULPOS)

The Upper Great Lakes Plan of Study of January 2002 was sent to Governments in March 2002 with a request for funding. The Governments have not, to this date, funded the proposed study. In the past year, evidence pointing to possibly important water level changes in Lakes Michigan and Huron due to ongoing physical changes in the upper St. Clair River has come to light in the Georgian Bay Association funded Baird Report. The Commission decided to revise its ULPOS to thoroughly investigate this issue after consulting with its Great Lakes Control Boards, and following a March 30 binational multi-agency meeting on the subject hosted by Environment Canada.

This work of revision is to retain the principal purpose of the study which is to (i) review the operation of the structures controlling the outflows from Lake Superior in the light of the impacts of those operations on water levels, flows, and consequently affected interests in the Upper Great Lakes system from Lake Superior downstream through Lake Erie, including the environment; (ii) assess whether changes to the Orders or regulation plan are warranted to meet contemporary and emerging needs, interests and preferences for managing the system in a sustainable manner, including under climate change scenarios; and (iii) evaluate any options identified to improve the operating rules and criteria governing Lake Superior outflow regulation. The POS revision work will be conducted in the context of Articles III and VIII of the Boundary Waters Treaty and the Commission’s alerting responsibilities in the same manner as conducted for the IJC’s Plan of Study for Criteria Review in the Orders of Approval for for Regulation of Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Levels and Flows.

This revised POS shall include:

  1. the definition of the studies to be performed, including possible development of a 3-dimensional hydrodynamic model for the St. Clair River and the level of detail anticipated for each study,
  2. recommendations as to the agencies or organizations capable of carrying out each study, recognizing that studies are to be conducted binationally,
  3. sources of, or means of obtaining, needed information, and
  4. recommendations on the order and duration of the study and its phases,
  5. depending on the nature and extent of St. Clair River changes and impacts -recommendations for mitigation, and
  6. estimates of the time, dollar and personnel resources required for the conduct of each unit of the study.

In the course of streamlining the 2001 POS, the team shall retain the essential work related to the following studies or activities:

  1. Review of available data and research that will inform and prioritize studies and activities to be completed through the POS
  2. System flow and level modeling using compiled historical flow records, available post-glacial levels information, extended supply variability data, and considering current diversions into and out of the Great Lakes system
  3. Climate change impacts on levels and flows
  4. Effects of past and current dredging on levels and flows
  5. Groundwater impacts on levels and flows
  6. Defining the amount of anthropogenic regulation effects compared to natural levels and flows in the system
  7. Development of alternative control approaches that as nearly as possible meet the needs of all interests (including the integrity of the ecosystem), appropriately balance effects between Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron while considering impacts on the St. Marys River and downstream of Lakes Michigan-Huron (including on Lake Erie), make provision for emergency conditions, and respect the requirements of the Boundary Waters Treaty and in particular Article VIII
  8. Ongoing public involvement in executing the study, including institutional arrangements to ensure appropriate communication with and among all interests, as well as a means of testing and demonstrating the effects of possible scenarios with the public
  9. Development of recommendations concerning appropriate communications on Lake Superior outflow regulation with and among all interests following completion of the study
  10. Development and implementation of an evaluation methodology for characterizing and assessing impacts associated with various water level and flow scenarios
  11. Qualitative assessment of how demographic and other possible future changes may affect user needs, water supplies, and regulation impacts

The Commission shall appoint an equal number of members fiom Canada and the United States to the Team. Members act in their personal and professional capacities and not as representatives of their countries, agencies, organizations, or other affiliations. Team members shall be responsible for their own expenses unless otherwise arranged by the Commission.

The Team shall consult with others as necessary, and especially the International Lake Superior Board of Control, to complete its work. It shall take note of related work by other agencies and organizations in both countries in order to make the most effective use of resources and efforts in both countries. It shall consult with the Lake Ontario - St. Lawrence River Study Board, currently conducting studies for the St. Lawrence River basin, to determine how best to leverage progress from that study applicable to the upper Great Lakes.

The Team shall keep the Commission informed of its progress and direction. The Team shall submit to the Commission:

  1. Within one month of its formation, a document framing the general nature of the anticipated POS, and a public consultation plan;
  2. By August 25, a draft revised POS; and
  3. By October 15, 2005, a final POS (an electronic copy and two printed copies provided to each section of the Commission.)

The Team shall make use of public input received prior to and during the development of the POS. To the extent possible, the POS revision shall be an open and transparent process. The Team shall conduct at least one meeting with the public in Canada and one in the United States to obtain input directly from the public. The Team shall provide other opportunities for the public to provide input during the revision of the POS. The Team shall coordinate its public involvement plans with the Commission.

Documents, letters, memoranda, and communications of every kind in the official records of the Commission are privileged and become available for public information only after release by the Commission. The Commission considers all documents in any official files that the team may establish to be similarly privileged. Accordingly, all such documents shall be so identified and maintained as separate files. The Commission will work with the Team to assure that relevant information is available for public review in a timely manner.

To assist in carrying out this assignment, attached are copies of the following:

  1. 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty
  2. Commission Orders of Approval
  3. March 19, 1996, Scope of Work, developed by the International Lake Superior Board of Control
  4. Membership of the International Lake Superior Board of Control
  5. Upper Great Lakes Plan of Study of January 2002


Elizabeth C. Bourget
U.S. Section
Murray Clamen
Canadian Section

Date: May 12, 2005