Directive to the International Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Task Team

May 29, 2012

The purpose of this directive is to establish and direct the International Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Adaptive Management Task Team (Task Team) to develop a detailed Adaptive Management Plan (Plan) that will evaluate and prioritize adaptive management activities in the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River basin to address future extreme water levels consistent with the recommendations of the International Upper Great Lakes Study Board’s Final Report of March 2012 to the International Joint Commission entitled Lake Superior Regulation: Addressing Uncertainty in the Upper Great Lakes Water Levels. The Task Team will consult and collaborate with the Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Working Group to seek its views and input and to build upon its adaptive management efforts to arrive at a basinwide Plan. In doing so, the Plan should identify and provide details of adaptive management activities required for the upper Great Lakes system, the Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River system, and activities that are common to both.

The Task Team shall further define, refine and prioritize the activities comprising the Plan into a final report by December 31, 2012, to be considered by Commissioners. The Task Team should consider the International Upper Great Lakes Study’s Adaptive Management Strategy entitled An Adaptive Management Strategy: Breakdown of Roles, Responsibilities and Proposed Tasks by Sub-Committee (draft dated December 15, 2011) in its deliberations to develop the Plan. This draft Adaptive Management Strategy recognizes that the governments of Canada and the United States plan to use adaptive management approaches during implementation of the renewed Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The Plan, as developed by the Task Team, will evaluate the linkages between water quality and quantity, as discussed in the draft Adaptive Management Strategy. This evaluation is to be conducted at an exploratory level of detail with recommendations provided to assist the Commission in a more detailed examination of an overall water quantity and water quality adaptive management strategy for the Great Lakes – St Lawrence System. It is anticipated that this more detailed examination would take place in 2013 and would build upon the Plan, as created through this Directive.

The Plan should address institutional arrangements and processes for administering the proposed Plan for the entire basin-wide system. The Task Team should consider the recommendation of the International Upper Great Lakes Study Board concerning the establishment of a Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Levels Advisory Board and further refine its: Terms of Reference, including roles, functions and responsibilities; membership; and the reporting structure within overall governance of the system. In doing so, the Task Team shall seek the views of the Commission’s three Great Lakes Control Boards and the Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence Working Group.

When evaluating, costing and prioritizing adaptive management activities in the upper Great Lakes and the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River systems, the Task Team will categorize activities in the Plan as being within (1) the direct (e.g., monitor to ensure anticipated benefits of the adopted regulation plan are being realized), (2) indirect (e.g., when inflows are high and the regulation plan cannot protect society), and (3) regional adaptive management activities related to water level regulation (e.g., local corrective actions to mitigate the impact of low lake levels on wetlands). When including an activity within the Plan, the Task Team will specify whether it is within or beyond the Commission’s existing authorities. The refined Plan shall:

  • Articulate and prioritize all studies and activities to be performed and level of detail anticipated for each;
  • Identify and clearly define goals and objectives of the Plan;
  • Recommend the agencies or organizations capable of conducting aspects of each study or activity, specifying leveraging opportunities and in-kind contributions of interested organizations and their timing, recognizing the need for involvement by a bi-national team;
  • Identify sources of, or means of obtaining, needed data and information;
  • Establish the priority, duration and timing of each study or activity; and
  • Estimate the human and financial resources, including expertise, required to conduct each individual study or activity and a summary for the entire Plan.
  • Be documented in a report that contains, as a minimum, an executive summary, list of acronyms, table of contents, chapters, references, and appendices, such that all pertinent material is contained therein and follows standard scientific and engineering practices.

The Task Team shall:

  1. Provide its work plan with an associated schedule of activities and budget to the Commission by June 29, 2012, outlining how it plans to proceed in developing the detailed Adaptive Management Plan and how it plans to engage the federal governments, the provinces, and states, as well as the wider body of stakeholders and the public in its efforts, the three Commission’s Great Lakes Control Boards and the Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Working Group;
  2. Provide a draft report containing the detailed Adaptive Management Plan to the Commission by October 1, 2012;
  3. Engage the public seeking input on the draft, detailed Adaptive Management Plan; and
  4. Provide the final report to the Commission by December 31, 2012.

The Commission will appoint Members of the Task Team and Co-Chairs to lead its efforts. The Co-Chairs will be responsible for organizing and executing the work of the Task Team, and for coordinating with, and reporting to, the Commission. The Task Team will be binational, comprising an equal number of members from each country.

Each Co-Chair, after consulting with members of the Task Team, may appoint a secretary. Under the general supervision of the Co-Chair(s), the secretary(ies) shall carry out such duties as are assigned by the Co-Chairs or the Task Team as a whole.

Members of the Task Team and any committees or work groups created by it or secretaries appointed by it will be responsible for their own expenses unless otherwise arranged with the Commission.

The Task Team shall make use of public input received in the development and refinement of the Plan. The Task Team shall distribute information widely to raise awareness of the effort to develop the detailed Adaptive Management Plan and its purpose. To the extent possible, the development of the Plan shall be an open and transparent process. The Task Team shall provide opportunities for the public to comment on the draft POS concurrently with the Commission’s review. The Task Team shall coordinate its public involvement plans with the Commission.

The Task Team will strive to reach decisions by consensus and will immediately notify the Commission of any irreconcilable differences. Any lack of clarity or precision in instructions or directions received from the Commission shall be promptly referred to the Commission for clarification.

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 their release by the Commission. The Commission considers all documents in the official records of Task Team or any of its committees or work groups to be similarly privileged. Accordingly, all such documents shall be so identified and maintained as separate files.