IJC announces plans for 15-year evaluation of 2000 Rainy and Namakan Lake Rule Curves
The International Joint Commission (IJC) is pleased to announce the formation of the International Rainy and Namakan Lakes Rule Curves Study Board (Board) that will make scientifically-supported recommendations to the IJC for modifying or retaining the 2000 Rainy and Namakan Lakes rule curves after reviewing the wide range of hydrologic, hydraulic, cultural and environmental factors.
The Rainy and Namakan Lake rule curves provide upper and lower target elevations for those lakes, and are used in managing water levels and flows.
The rule curves will be evaluated using socio-economic performance indicators, such as emergency high and low water levels, flooding damage to structures and cultural resources hydropower production, and tourism, as well as environmental indicators, such as wetland health (cattails, wild rice and submerged plants), loon nesting, and fish spawning.
"This evaluation is designed to ensure strong civic involvement from organizations and individuals whose daily lives, and livelihoods, are affected by the water levels and flows in the Rainy and Namakan," explained Canadian Commissioner Richard Morgan.
The IJC has directed the Board to engage with the public throughout the duration of the evaluation, and the IJC will establish a Rule Curve Public Advisory Group, (RCPAG) to include representation from: lake/property owners associations; navigation interests; environmental organizations; First Nations, Metis and Tribes; tourism and recreation interests; hydropower companies or organizations; and other interested groups identified by the Board that would be affected by the Rainy and Namakan Lake Rule Curve evaluation. Individuals or organizations interested in participating in the RCPAG can contact the IJC directly at Commission@washington.ijc.org or Commission@ottawa.org.
Results of previously conducted technical studies will be integrated in a shared vision model, which is a decision-making tool linking the hydrology and the water levels under different rule-curve scenarios to the various performance indicators so that options can be evaluated.
"Building on the experience from other IJC studies in other watersheds, we are confident that the shared vision model, will capture the diversity of interests and impacts of this complex basin," said U.S. Commissioner Rich Moy, adding "the shared vision model will also be used to evaluate the performance of the rule curves under various climate change scenarios."
The bi-national Board will oversee the evaluation work, manage outreach and stakeholder engagement, write reports and provide recommendations to the IJC, which may include recommended modifications to the existing 2000 Rule Curves, depending on the modelled performance of rule curve alternatives.
The Board consists of:
Matt DeWolfe, Environment Canada, Canadian Co-Chair
Syed Moin, Independent Consultant
Erika Klyszejko, Environment Canada
Col. Daniel Koprowski, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Co-Chair
Larry Kallemeyn, Independent Consultant
Pam Tomevi, Koochiching County Soil and Water Conservation District
*Scott Jutila, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alternate U.S. Co-Chair
Kelli Saunders, Study Manager
In a related matter, the International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board invites the public and representatives of local governments, First Nations / Tribes, and all interested stakeholders to attend its annual public meetings from August 10-12, 2015.
The International Joint Commission was established under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to help the United States and Canada prevent and resolve disputes of the use of the waters the two countries share. Under the Treaty, the IJC is responsible for regulating shared water uses, investigating trans-boundary issues and recommending solutions to both governments.
When the IJC approved the 2000 Order and the Rainy and Namakan Lake Rule Curves, it made the commitment that:
"This order shall be subject to review 15 years following adoption of the Commission's Supplementary Order of 5 January 2000, or as otherwise determined by the Commission. The review shall, at a minimum, consider monitoring information collected by natural resource management agencies and others during the interim that may indicate the effect of the changes contained in the Supplementary Order of January 5, 2000."
In 2009, a report outlining a rule curve evaluation plan of study was issued calling for 18 studies to investigate the wide range of hydrologic, hydraulic, cultural and environmental factors. The last of those and subsequently identified required studies is scheduled for completion in October 2015.
The objective of this rule curve evaluation is to provide to the IJC with scientifically-supported recommendations for the modification or retention of the 2000 Rainy and Namakan Lakes Rule curves, considering the aforementioned factors. The evaluation scope of the original 2009 plan has been expanded, based on review by the International Rainy Lake of the Woods Watershed Board (IRLWWB) in 2014, to now include a Shared Vision Model (SVM) component allowing for a more integrated comparison of rule curve options linking the hydrology and hydraulics to the other investigated risk factors. The geographic scope of this review comprises the Rainy and Namakan Lakes, the connecting channels and the Rainy River downstream of Rainy Lake to the Lake of the Woods, and the riparian areas adjacent to these water bodies.
As outlined in the Directives this evaluation will be managed by a six-person Board, advised by a two-person technical working group (TWG) and supported by a study manager. The TWG will perform the numerical modelling and rule curve scenario simulations and provide options and technical recommendations to the Board. The Board will be responsible for informing and soliciting feedback from the public, stakeholders, the IRLWWB and their Water Levels Committee (WLC) throughout the study. The Board will also be responsible for evaluating the recommendations from the TWG, considering feedback from stakeholders, and presenting a final report with recommendations to the IJC.
The project is anticipated to start in the fall of 2015 with an anticipated duration of one and one-half (1.5) years.