IJC Committee Begins Second Phase of the Expedited Review of Plan 2014 for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River
The International Joint Commission (IJC)’s Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Adaptive Management (GLAM) Committee has begun work on the second phase of an expedited review of the binational regulation plan for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, known formally as Plan 2014 (Plan). This is the plan that regulates Lake Ontario outflows into the St. Lawrence River and went into effect in January 2017.
This second phase of the Plan’s review will strive to find improvements for managing Lake Ontario outflows, especially during extremely wet or dry periods to reduce impacts on the various uses and interests throughout the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River system. It should be noted that no regulation plan will be able to prevent extremely high or low water levels and flows or eliminate their impacts.
To do this, the GLAM Committee will be gathering and analyzing data that reflects the impacts of extreme high and low water across individuals, communities and organizations who live, work and enjoy the lake and river, as well as ecosystem impacts in the basin. Indigenous engagement, perspectives and traditional knowledge are also being considered as an important part of this review. The GLAM Committee’s efforts will include the re-establishment of a Public Advisory Group initiated during the Phase 1 effort to continue robust engagement with the public over the course of the review.
The expedited review is part of the IJC’s integrated adaptive management approach, which seeks to help address future uncertainties due to climate change. In the case of Plan 2014, the GLAM Committee follows this approach to continually review the outcomes and management of this regulation plan by assessing the plan’s performance and the challenges regulators face using a broad range of environmental and socio-economic indicators. The GLAM Committee will advise the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board, who will evaluate whether adjustments to the plan may be warranted and should be recommended to the IJC.
The final results from the Phase 2 effort are expected to be submitted to the IJC in the spring of 2025.
- The GLAM Committee, appointed by the IJC, is made up of government scientists and engineers and knowledgeable specialists from outside organizations. Its purpose is to conduct on-going evaluations of water-management regulations, including those for managing flows out of Lake Superior and the water flowing out of Lake Ontario into the St. Lawrence River.
- Plan 2014 is the plan for regulating Lake Ontario outflows. A long-term comprehensive review of Plan 2014 was scheduled when the Plan was put into use in January 2017. However, the timetable for the review was shortened because of concerns arising after extreme high water in 2017 and 2019 caused damage and disruption throughout the lake-river system. The Expedited Review refers to this shortened review period.
- In two of the first three years after Plan 2014 was adopted, extremely wet conditions caused record floods on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. In response to public concerns about these extraordinarily high water levels, the IJC’s GLAM Committee launched an Expedited Review of Plan 2014.
- Phase 2 looks at how Plan 2014 addresses extreme high and low water levels over the longer term. The GLAM Committee will conduct the research and analyses required by the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board to assess plan alternatives under a range of current and potential future conditions and decide whether to recommend adjustments to the plan. Any recommended changes to Plan 2014 by the Board would need to be approved by the IJC and agreed to by the governments of Canada and the United States.
- The Phase 1 report is available online at: ijc.org/en/glam. The focus of Phase 1 was to provide the International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board with better information to help them explore alternative deviation decisions should extremely high water as seen in 2017 and 2019 be repeated in the coming years.
- Phase 2 Background GLAM Expedited Review of Plan 2014: Phase 2 | International Joint Commission (ijc.org)
- Fact Sheet: Plan 2014 Expedited Review - Phase 2 Overview
- Plan 2014 Expedited Review - Phase 1 Full Report
Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Adaptive Management Committee