of the
Upper Great Lakes
"Plan of Studies" Team

The purpose of this directive is to establish and direct the Upper Great Lakes "Plan of Studies" Team (Team) to develop a Plan of Studies (POS) to review the operation of structures controlling the outflows from Lake Superior.

The purpose of the studies is to:

  1. review the operation of the structures controlling the levels and flows of the upper Great Lakes in the light of the impacts of those operations on affected interests, including the environment
  2. 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 to meet possible future water supplies; and
  3. evaluate any options indentified to improve the operating rules and criteria governing the system.

The POS will be conducted in the context of Articles III and VIII of the Boundary Waters Treaty and the Commission's alerting responsibilies.

This POS shall include:

  1. the definition of the studies to be performed 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
  4. recommendations on the order and duration of the study and its phases (in the case of a phased study), and
  5. estimates of the time, dollar and personnel resources required for the conduct of each unit of the study.

At a minimum, the following studies or activities will be required:

  1. System flow and level modeling using compiled historical flow records and extended supply variability data.
  2. Climate change impacts on levels and flows.
  3. Defining the amount of anthropogenic regulation effects compared to natural levels and flows in the system.
  4. 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), and respect the requirements of the Boundary Waters Treaty and in particular Article VIII.
  5. Ongoing public involvement in executing the study, including a means of testing and demonstrating the effects of possible scenarios with the public.
  6. Development and implementation of decision - support algorithm to choose among alternative approaches developed.
  7. Environmental impacts of levels and flow regimes and ecosystem needs.
  8. Determination of levels and flow impacts on recreational boating and updating of impacts on other interest groups (such as riparians, hydropower, commercial navigation, and municipal water supply), in the light of the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty.
  9. Shoreline impacts of levels and flows, including assessment of zoning and other land use management issues.
  10. Qualititative assessment of how demopgraphic and other possible future changes may affect user needs, water supplies and regulation impacts.
  11. Topographic and bathymetric data acquisition

Consideration shall be given to whether it is desirable to conduct the study in a phased approach. One possible phasing consideration is such that the first phase would identify the degree of anthropogenic control currently available as compared to a state of nature and expected impacts under climate change, while a second phase would investigate various regulation approaches.

The Commission shall appoint an equal number of members from 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. Members of the Team shall be responsible for their own expenses unless otherwise arranged by the Commission.

The Team shall keep consult with others as necessary, and especially the International Lake Superior Board of Control, to complete its work. It shall take note of work of all 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 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:

  • Within two weeks of its formation, a document outlining how it plans to proceed in developing a POS, with special emphasis on public involvement;
  • Within one month of its formation, a document framing the general nature of the anticipated POS;
  • By November 1, 2001, a draft POS; and
  • By December 31, 2001, a final POS.
The Team shall make use of public input received prior to and during the development of the POS. The Team shall distribute information widely to raise awareness of the effort to develop a Plan of Study and the purpose of the proposed study. To the extent possible, the development of the POS shall be an open and transparent process. The Team shall provide opportunities for the public to comment on the draft POS concurrently with the Commission's review. 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. IJC Orders of Approval
  3. IJC 1993 IJC Report to governments on Adverse Consequences of Fluctuating Water Levels
  4. March 19, 1996, Scope of Work, developed by the International Lake Superior Board of Control
  5. Membership of the International Lake Superior Board of Control
  6. Membership of the International Lake Ontario - St. Lawrence River Study Board
  7. September 1999 Plan of Study for Criteria Review in the Orders of Approval for Regulation of Lake Ontario - St. Lawrence River Levels and Flows