Lake Ontario St. Lawrence River Plan 2014

Adaptive Management

Adaptive management includes three key elements. First, there is a monitoring program to collect the data that should be considered in evaluating future plan changes. Second, is a program to maintain and update the models and databases used in the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Study. These models were designed for extended use from the beginning, which means it is relatively easy and inexpensive to formulate and evaluate new regulation plans. Finally, there is an institutional process to review the monitoring and evaluation results, and consider when changes to the regulation plan and associated policies may be warranted. There was widespread support for the proposed adaptive management strategy, but some respondents had criticisms, suggestions or questions arose.

In 2015 the IJC launched the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Adaptive Management Committee to support its three Great Lakes-St. Lawrence boards of control in implementing adaptive management of the regulation plans for Lake Superior and Lake Ontario and the water regulation responsibilities on the Niagara River. 

Comment Received

IJC Response

Does adaptive management mean less consultation before changing the plan?


No. Adaptive management is proposed as an effective means of analyzing and evaluating the effects of Plan 2014. Proposed changes to the regulation rules in Plan 2014 will be widely publicized and any significant changes will require a public review process, as is the case now. The IJC intends to maintain its extensive consultation with federal, state and provincial governments, and with industry, shoreline stakeholders, and the public at large.  Changes to Plan 2014 will continue to require the concurrence of the two federal governments.

Adaptive Management sounds good, but more detail on methods and funding sources is needed.

The IJC believes that adaptive management is a cost-effective approach and the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Adaptive Management Committee (GLAM) has already begun to carry out the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River portion of its adaptive management strategy.  Data-collection, model validation and stakeholder outreach activities have already been initiated using IJC resources but primarily by partnering with programs of other agencies. . The Committee’s first two annual work plans provide more detail on its initial work and are available on the IJC website .  Given that the adaptive management components are  being funded and managed collaboratively with different governments and stakeholders, the list of components will gradually be built up and evolve over time.

The IJC should work with local, state, provincial and federal interests to address climate change impacts.

The IJC agrees and its GLAM Committee is already doing so. The most effective way to address future uncertainties, including climate change impacts, is through adaptive management, which requires collaboration.

Regulation of water levels and flows needs to be adaptable to changes in water supplies from climate change.

The IJC agrees and has invested in climatological and hydrological studies to that end. To address future uncertainties, the IJC is pursuing an adaptive management strategy to monitor weather, water and climate data that could signal the need to review the regulation plan and related policies. New regulation rules will go through the same public vetting as always, but adaptive management may allow us to react earlier than we would otherwise. The IJC report on Plan 2014 has more details on climate change and adaptive management.