Terms of Reference for a Public Advisory Group in support of Phase 1 of the Expedited Review of Plan 2014 by the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Adaptive Management (GLAM) Committee
The Public Advisory Group (PAG) in support of Phase 1 of the Expedited Review of Plan 2014 is a forum to advise and support the activities of the International Joint Commission’s (IJC’s) Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Adaptive Management (GLAM) Committee. The GLAM Committee was established by the IJC, in a Directive dated January 16, 2015, to undertake the long-term review of the regulation plans for managing the outflows for Lake Superior and Lake Ontario. In a recent letter to the GLAM Committee dated February 3, 2020, the IJC directed the committee to undertake an expedited review of Plan 2014, the regulation plan for managing Lake Ontario outflows. The PAG is an important component of the GLAM Committee and IJC’s strategy to increase transparency, involvement and engagement in the implementation of the adaptive management process for the expedited review and assessment of Plan 2014 for the regulation of outflows from Lake Ontario. The PAG is being established specifically to support the Phase 1 component of the expedited review process.
The outflows from Lake Superior and Lake Ontario are regulated in accordance with IJC Orders of Approval. The GLAM Committee is an IJC-appointed committee that reports to the Great Lakes water regulation boards and implements an adaptive management process to review the rules for regulating outflows. While the GLAM Committee was formed with a long-term perspective of meeting the 15-year review timeline outlined in the Orders for Lake Superior and Lake Ontario, recent high water events and the recent shift to a new regulation plan for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River have led to considerable interest in the regulation of Lake Ontario outflows. While recognizing that no regulation plan can eliminate shoreline impacts under extreme water supply conditions, the IJC has asked the GLAM Committee to conduct an expedited review of Plan 2014 with the goal of further moderating flooding and erosion throughout the system. The GLAM Committee has proposed a phased approach. Funding has recently been identified for phase 1 of the expedited review, which is scheduled to be completed by September 30, 2021. The second phase of the expedited review has a provisional start date of October 1, 2020, but the actual start will depend on when funding becomes available. Portions of phase 1 and phase 2 may run concurrently.
The GLAM Committee is not a decision-making body, but does make recommendations on the performance indicators  chosen and assessed by the Boards in the review of the regulation plans. The committee also interacts directly with the decision-makers, those being the Boards, the IJC, governments and First Nations. The regulation of flows is considered, as per the criteria outlined in the IJC order, to provide for a wide range of desired outcomes such as the production of energy, municipal and industrial water uses, navigation, minimizing flooding and erosion, recreational activities, and environmental consequences. Because groups aligned with these different interests both influence and experience the outcomes from outflow management, it is important that the GLAM Committee obtain their advice and work collectively to understand what each knows about how flow regulation and lake level changes affect them. The central premise for the PAG is that a greater trust and transparency between the technical experts and those impacted by water level and flow conditions in the Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River system can be achieved when trusted and knowledgeable representatives of networks work directly with experts to engage and advise on the assessment of various impacted groups. The PAG forms a small group of voluntary and trusted representatives as a core circle, or network, with the GLAM Committee and Board representatives, sharing all information and providing two-way communication with their constituency groups and networks. The expectation is that the PAG will work to both inform and seek feedback from their larger constituency groups and networks.
3. Statement of Purpose for Expedited Review of Plan 2014
- The Expedited Review of Plan 2014 is the more rapid execution of the requirements in the 2016 Supplementary Order of Approval to manage the plan adaptively, with a focus on the current extreme high water supply conditions.
- The review includes exploring all possible ways of modifying current operations, within and outside the confines of the existing order:
- Phase 1 is focused on providing information as quickly as possible to help the Board with near-term deviation decisions during this high water level event;
- Phase 2 continues and builds on this effort and looks for possible improvements in how the plan addresses extreme highs and lows under many different scenarios and over the longer-term.
- While the goal of the expedited review is to look for ways of moderating flooding both upstream and downstream of the project, it must be recognized that no regulation plan will eliminate shoreline impacts under extreme water supply conditions. As such, a secondary objective of the expedited review is to improve the understanding, documenting and presenting of how the plan and the Board have or could respond to extremes, the limits of lake outflow regulation, and the change in the balances of impacts and tradeoffs inherent with any modification to the regulation plan.
- The Expedited Review will prioritize shoreline issues, while considering the range of affected interests (i.e., shoreline communities, commercial navigation; municipal and industrial water uses; recreation and tourism; hydropower; and ecosystems).
4. Roles and Responsibilities of the Public Advisory Group (PAG) in support of Phase 1 for the Expedited Review of Plan 2014
As a voluntary member of the PAG appointed by the IJC, participants will assist in the following areas:
Substantive Scope of Review and PAG Tasks
- Specifically the PAG will help inform the GLAM Committee on:
- what criteria the GLAM can suggest to the ILOSLRB for their use in making decisions on water flow changes;
- what impacts are being assessed;
- how they are being assessed; and
- how the information will be presented to the ILOSLRB.
- Provide review of material and concepts and provide advice to the GLAM Committee relating to the expedited review of the regulation plans and to address future extreme water levels.
- Participate in meetings regarding the theory and practice of flow regulation and the existing performance indicators and tools used in the review and evaluation of the regulation plans.
- Provide advice on, and assist the GLAM Committee in how best to share knowledge gained and lessons learned related to the performance and limitations of the regulation plans with those who are most directly impacted by water level fluctuations and extremes.
- Provide advice on lessons learned from the engagement process and how to make improvements moving forward.
- Carry out specific activities that the GLAM Committee may request from time to time in support of the expedited review process when agreed to by the PAG.
- Topics that do not fit within the mandate of the GLAM Committee will be referred to the appropriate group.
Expectations of Interactions
- Maintain an open and honest dialogue with the GLAM Committee to ensure that a wide range of perspectives are being heard and considered in the review of Plan 2014.
- Participate in conference calls, email exchanges, phone calls with GLAM Committee members.
- Work with facilitators retained to support the PAG by the GLAM Committee in order to develop an agreed upon set of Rules of Engagement for participation and interaction amongst all members of the PAG.
- All members of PAG have equal status during discussion and are expected to demonstrate fairness and a commitment to in-depth examination of matters under review.
- Respect and adhere to the group’s agreed upon Rules of Engagement, once established.
- At a minimum, and until a full Rules of Engagement are established, PAG members will be expected to:
- demonstrate preparedness for conference calls and meetings;
- attend and participate in the group’s workshops and conference calls;
- foster and contribute to an open, collaborative, respectful climate;
- actively provide constructive input to the deliberations;
- draw upon their knowledge, contacts and experience to provide informed input into discussions;
- be respectful of others views and opinions in a manner that allows all to participate fully without facing retribution in or outside of the process;
- utilize primarily English, as does the IJC in its deliberations, as the language for conducting PAG business (however, the GLAM will provide additional support to those whose first and preferred language is French);
- help ensure open, frank and free-flowing discussion; and
- Respect and adhere to requirements to maintain privacy and confidentiality of information shared within the PAG and by the GLAM Committee as part of review processes and not share preliminary information outside the group until deemed appropriate in consultation with the GLAM Committee.
Outreach and Engagement
- Assist the GLAM Committee in the development of an Engagement Strategy to be implemented over the course of the expedited review and inform the longer-term engagement process.
- Engage, reach out and communicate with the organizations and individuals within their sector to share information about the review issues and the work of the PAG.
- Bring information from their respective sector and constituencies back to the PAG, and compile and coordinate feedback from their organization/group/network.
- Assist the GLAM Committee in engaging with key groups impacted by water level and flow conditions related to the expedited review, the evaluation of the regulation plan and the adaptive management process.
- Engage the constituencies of PAG members when appropriate through meetings, emails, and other means, to seek input in the adaptive management process for the expedited review of the regulation plan.
5. GLAM Committee Roles and Responsibilities
- Maintain an open and honest dialogue with the PAG members to ensure that their perspectives and those of the various groups are being heard.
- Follow the same rules of engagement and expectations of PAG members in terms of positive and constructive engagement.
- Hire a facilitator/coordinator to work with the PAG and provide logistical support.
- Work with the PAG to engage with, and garner and maintain support from key impact groups related to the expedited review and evaluation of the regulation plan and the adaptive management process.
- Share GLAM Committee material and concepts relating to the expedited review of the regulation plans to address future extreme water levels.
- Organize at least two meetings between the GLAM Committee and the PAG within the first year the PAG being established (the meetings will be virtual or face-to-face depending on the evolving COVID-19 situation).
- Provide additional support, as needed, to those who are French-speaking.
- Work with the PAG on how best to share knowledge gained and lessons learned related to the performance and limitations of the regulation plans with those who are most directly impacted by water level fluctuations and extremes.
- Organize conference calls and webinars as needed with the PAG and provide regular updates through emails, phone calls with GLAM Committee members and other means as mutually agreed to between the GLAM Committee and PAG.
PAG members are appointed by the IJC to serve an initial 18-month term to support Phase 1 of the expedited review. The IJC may reappoint members to assist with Phase 2 if this is mutually agreeable and funding for Phase 2 becomes available. Members are drawn from agencies, organizations, groups and communities that understand and work with those that may be affected by water level and flow changes and who are already established and trusted by those constituencies. These groups cover the various impact categories and geographic regions identified by the GLAM Committee and are known to have a vested interest in and role to play in the expedited review of the regulation plan.
PAG members, while contributing to improve the links between their agencies/organizations/groups and the GLAM Committee, are not considered as official representatives speaking on behalf of their agencies or organizations. Serving in a personal capacity, they are nonetheless considered an inner core to a broader set of constituencies with whom the GLAM Committee wishes to engage.
An individual may withdraw as a member from the PAG at any time upon written notification to the IJC with a copy to the GLAM Committee co-chairs.
Membership is voluntary and may be terminated at any time upon written notification from the GLAM Committee in consultation with the Board and IJC.
The IJC will strive for equal representation of members from the United States and Canada in the development of the PAG, but will also consider representation from key interest sectors and geographic regions addressed by the GLAM Committee in their analyses.
7. Reporting Structure
The PAG reports through the GLAM Committee to the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board and IJC. IJC Commissioners may request to meet directly with the PAG. If such a request is made, the IJC will cover any associated travel expenses.
8. Management and Administration
The IJC will hire a PAG facilitator/coordinator to support the GLAM Committee in the engagement process. The PAG coordinator will arrange and facilitate conference calls, video-conferences, webinars and face-to-face meetings with the PAG members.
Travel expenses to face-to-face meetings will be covered at the discretion of the IJC in accordance with the travel regulations that the respective section of the IJC is required to follow.
The agenda for conference calls and meetings will be developed by the GLAM Committee in consultation with the PAG Coordinator and the PAG. Where possible, information will be provided in advance of the conference call/meeting.
Summaries of joint PAG and GLAM Committee meetings will be prepared by a PAG coordinator and certified for accuracy by the PAG members and GLAM Committee co-chairs. The summaries are kept to the minimum detail required to effectively report on the proceedings and to reflect advice offered. There is no attribution of comments unless specifically requested by a member.
Members of PAG serve voluntarily without reimbursement for their time. Travel related expenses will be covered at the discretion of the IJC. The PAG will not have a separate budget.
 A performance Indicator is a measure of economic, social or environmental health as it relates to impacts of different water levels in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.