Planning for the Future: Adaptive Management Strategy
Even under the best of circumstances, it is impossible to predict water supplies from year to year. This is especially true given the uncertain impact of global climate change on the Great Lakes. The proposed approach would include an Adaptive Management strategy to monitor and assess conditions on the lake and river in order to refine the plan as needed.
Because of the complexity of the LOSLR system, Adaptive Management is critical to achieving the goals of the proposed approach. Adaptive Management is a scientific, structured process of monitoring and research that allows decisions to be reviewed, adjusted and revised as new information and knowledge becomes available and/or as conditions change.
The Adaptive Management system will feature ongoing monitoring of the impacts of the regulation plan on specific interests, including:
- Assessing whether the plan is having the intended impact, particularly related to the environmental benefits on Lake Ontario and the upper river;
- Verifying assumptions about the sensitivity of Lake Ontario shoreline property to water level changes, both high and low;
- Verifying the adaptability of Lake Ontario and upper St. Lawrence River recreational boating to occasional low water conditions and the importance of higher water levels in the fall;
- Verifying that environmental, economic and social benefits for the lower St. Lawrence River are similar to those under current regulation;
- Improving water level and supply forecasting in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River basins for better plan performance.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Environment Canada have both expressed willingness to lead an Adaptive Management strategy. The strategy will require funding for a three-year start-up period followed by dedicated funding on an annual basis. The LOSLR Working Group-- a team of federal, state and provincial agency managers-- is seeking to identify the necessary resources within the basin's governments for the strategy.