How the Study is Organized
The study team comprises experts and decision makers from
government, academia, native communities and other groups
in the U.S. and Canada. Scientific and technical work
will be carried out by eight Technical
Work Groups (TWGs), overseen by a binational Study
Board that reports to the IJC. The Study Board will approve
the work plans of the following TWGs:
Coastal Zone will investigate impacts of water level
fluctuations on shore property, with particular attention
to erosion and flood processes.
Commercial Navigation will investigate the impacts
of water levels on fishing, cargo shipping, cruise/tour
operations, tug and barge operations, ship construction
and government vessel operations.
Common Data Needs will collect and update information
on depths and elevations (bathymetric and Topographic
data) in critical areas of the system and share findings
with other work groups.
Environment will investigate impacts of water level
variations on fish, birds, plants and other wildlife
in the system, and will focus particularly on ecological
effects on wetlands.
Hydrology and Hydraulics Modeling will develop models
to predict water levels and flows in the system based
on different regulation plans and climate scenarios.
Water Uses will investigate impacts of water level variations
on industrial, municipal and domestic water intakes
and treatment facilities.
Hydroelectric Power Generation will evaluate how different
regulation plans affect power generation.
Recreational Boating and Tourism will investigate impacts
of water levels on individual boaters, marinas and tourism.
Information Advisory Group (PIAG) is not a TWG per
se, but a group of 24 volunteers working to ensure effective
communication between the study team and the public.
Co-chaired by individuals from the U.S. and Canada,
PIAG is developing and implementing a public awareness
program, of which this newsletter is a part, and liaising
with TWGs to ensure input from the public is heard and
the study's goals and activities are well publicized.
The first work plan approved by the Study Board, that
of the Common Data Needs TWG, is discussed in this newsletter.
Coming issues will highlight activities and findings
of other TWGs.
For more information, please consult the Plan
of Study For Criteria Review.
Perspectives on Lake
by Frank H. Quinn, Ph.D., P.E., Board
Lake Ontario - St. Lawrence River Study Board
The 1950s were a time of expansion throughout North
America. The freeway system was designed and built to
enhance travel and transportation, and large water projects
were constructed and operated in the west to provide
for cheap Hydroelectric Power and irrigation. In the east, the
signature project of the decade was the Lake Ontario
- St. Lawrence River portion of the St. Lawrence Seaway
System. It was originally designed to provide cheap
Hydroelectric Power for industry and a sea route to enhance international
trade in the Great Lakes. Following the record high
lake levels of 1952, shore protection for the riparians
along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River was included
in the final design. In the context of the times, the
major interests considered in the design of the water
management plan were Hydroelectric Power, navigation, and shore
protection. Environmental resources were viewed in terms
of exploitation, rather than protection or enhancement.
Also, during these times recreational boating was primarily
limited to outboard boats, small cabin cruisers, and
small sailboats, many with swing keels. These are the
considerations that set the framework for the design
of a regulation plan for Lake Ontario.
Computers were not available for use in the design
of water management plans during the 1950s. The Lake
Ontario regulation plan was designed by engineers using
elementary calculators, triangles and sheets of graph
paper. The lack of computers limited the number of runs
of various scenarios which could be used to design the
plan. The design followed the basic procedure of taking
the historical record, 1860-1954, and developing a plan
that would fit the exact historical sequence of water
supplies, without the need of deviations. When a problem
occurred, the triangle was used to shift the appropriate
rule curve to solve the particular issue. Plan 1958D
met the criteria and successfully ran using the historical
water supplies. Alas, nature always loves the hidden
flaw. It is extremely unusual to find exact sequences
of climate/water supplies repeating themselves exactly,
particularly over 100 years duration. For Lake Ontario,
problems started with the drought of the 1960s. The
plan was not designed to handle this particular sequence
of water supplies. The same can be said for the high
water supply period of the 1970s and 1980s. Deviations
from the Plan were plentiful (and successful) through
this period. However, the Plan was not working as originally
envisioned, namely, without deviations unless truly
unusual conditions occurred. Still, the overall aims
of regulation (reducing the range of levels and changing
the seasonal lake level cycle to benefit power and navigation)
We approach today's study of Lake Ontario Regulation
in a new light. Much has changed in the 40 years since
the current regulation plan was developed. We have new
tools and computers to better design water management
plans. The environmental movement began influencing
Great Lakes decisions in the early 1970s. We appreciate
the need to preserve and protect the environment, something
Native Americans and many local citizens have known
for generations. At the same time we must still consider
the needs of commerce and industry. However, the relative
priorities need not be the same as when the Plan was
originally developed. Also, recreational boating has
come into its own with the higher lake levels and a
major boost in discretionary income in the 1970s and
1980s. This interest was not envisioned in the original
design. The other component that was missing in the
original design, because of the times, was public participation
and input into the design process, which brings us to
our present study.
We now have a unique opportunity (and obligation) to
reevaluate Lake Ontario regulation in the light of the
additional interests - the environment and recreational
boating - and of economic changes affecting the original
interests to develop the best possible water management
plan. We have the opportunity to consider the potential
impacts of climate change, changed variability of water
supplies, and we can use hydrologic forecasting and
risk assessment in testing, assessing, and operating
alternative plans. And finally, this study is bringing
together dedicated scientists and engineers, along with
knowledgeable citizens and Native Americans representing
both countries to provide the broad background and state
of knowledge necessary for the successful reevaluation
of Lake Ontario regulation.
Lake Ontario - St. Lawrence River Study Board
Dr. Eugene Stakhiv, U.S. co-chair. Dr. Stakhiv has
pioneered the use of modeling as a decision-making and
public involvement tool in watershed planning. He is
chief of policy and special studies, U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers Institute for Water Resources.
Doug Cuthbert, Canadian co-chair. As a senior sciences
manager, Mr. Cuthbert is responsible for Environment
Canada's work on water quantity issues throughout Ontario
and the Great Lakes.
André Carpentier is a civil engineer currently in charge
of transboundary basins for the Quebec Ministry of the
Lynn Cleary has held several management positions in
the Canadian Public Service. Recently, she was the regional
director of the St. Lawrence Center of Environment Canada.
She is currently the director of the Biosphere of Montreal.
Ian Crawford has served as senior advisor on water
and natural resource issues to the Province of Ontario
since 1984. Currently he is manager of water power projects,
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.
Erin M. Crotty recently became Commissioner of the
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Dalton Foster is a retired biochemist. Long concerned
with the ecology of the St. Lawrence River, he currently
is technical advisor to the International Water Levels
Coalition. He also serves as U.S. co-chair of the Public
Interest Advisory Group.
Sandra L. LeBarron, with close to twenty years experience
with environmental issues, represents Commissioner Erin
M. Crotty on the Study Board. As regional director with
the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation,
she is responsible for programs in Jefferson, Lewis,
St. Lawrence, Herkimer and Oneida counties.
F. Henry Lickers serves as director, Environmental
Division, Mohawk Council of Akwesasne and has long worked
on Great Lakes and St. Lawrence ecosystem health issues.
Dr. Daniel P. Loucks has pursued a distinguished career
in many areas of water resources management and systems
analysis. Currently he is a professor in the School
of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University.
Robert (Shawn) Martin, a biologist by training and
a member of the Wolf Clan, is the Clean Water Manager
for the Environment Division of the Saint Regis Mohawk
Tribe. His work is devoted to the protection and enhancement
of biological, chemical and traditional uses of the
Territory waters in the community.
Fred Parkinson is a hydraulic engineer and private
consultant who has led ice, navigation and sediment
transport studies of the St. Lawrence River and other
waters. He also serves as Canadian co-chair of the Public
Interest Advisory Group.
Dr. Frank Quinn is an expert on climate change and
a senior research hydrologist at the Great Lakes Environmental
Research Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Dr. Steven Renzetti, Associate Professor of Economics,
Director of the Environmental Economics Program at Brock
University, has written a number of articles concerned
with establishing efficient prices for water as well
as modeling the demand for water.
Dr. Frank Sciremammano Jr. is professor of mechanical
engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
His research has focused on long-range water level forecasting
and mitigating environmental pollution.
Before joining the Study full-time, Dr. Anthony J.
Eberhardt was Chief of the Lower Great Lakes Water Control
Center for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the
U.S. regulation representative to the International
St. Lawrence River Board of Control.
Ed Eryuzlu, now working full-time with the Study, is
a civil engineer specializing in hydraulics with over
thirty years experience with water resource issues;
most recently he served as Director of Waterways Development
with the Canadian Coast Guard.
Continuing an Honoured Tradition
This past June the International Lake Ontario - St.
Lawrence Study Board visited the Mohawk Nation community
of Akwesasne and took part in a traditional gathering.
The community of Akwesasne straddles the Canada - U.S.
border, along the St. Lawrence River near Cornwall,
Ontario and Massena, New York. Akwesasne is also part
of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) confederacy and is the
home of two distinct tribal governments. Henry Lickers,
Director of the Environmental Division of the Mohawk
Council and a Study Board member, organized the gathering
in an effort to open lines of communication between
the Study Board and the Mohawk people.
Members of the Akwesasne community have long observed
the environmental effects of varying water levels in
and around the St. Lawrence. As a result, they possess
a considerable store of knowledge of potential value
to the Study. Collaboration is the goal, but communication
will be the challenge - the Mohawk culture traditionally
conveys information orally, while much of the work of
this study board will be written and technical.
The meeting's participants included Robert (Shawn)
Martin, Clean Water Manager with the Saint Regis Mohawk
Tribal Council's Environment Division and Study Board
Member, Chief Hilda Smoke, Jim Ransom, member of the
Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force, and Chief Margie
Thompson of the Mohawk Council. Jim Ransom, also a member
of the study's Environmental Technical Working Group,
spoke at length to participants about the importance
of maintaining and protecting the environment.
In keeping with Mohawk tradition, Dave Arquette opened
and closed the meeting with the Thanksgiving Address,
known as Ohen:ton Karihwatehkwen, the "Words That Come
Before All Else". The Address is spoken to give thanks
to the Creator and to ask each person in the meeting
to set aside personal agendas in order to focus on a
common purpose. Evidently it was taken to heart: the
twenty-odd participants were able to zero in on the
task at hand and developed a number of strategies for
cooperation. The exchange of ideas and lively dialogue
worked up participants' appetites which Richard David
kindly satisfied with "Indian tacos" and strawberry
punch. Hospitality was later continued in a newly erected
Long House, where board members were treated to a traditional
social and dance complete with singers. Everyone was
given an opportunity - and some took it - to join in
dances and song, including a Friendship dance, a dance
honouring women and a warrior's dance.
Besides the warm spirit of inclusive cooperation it
established, participants agree that the meeting was
educational and fruitful, resulting in a unanimous pledge
to work together. The Study Board thanks Henry Lickers
for organizing the visit and the Mohawk people for their
hospitality and kindness.
Continuing an Honoured Tradition
Roger Gauthier, U.S. Lead
Wendy Leger, Canadian Lead
Mapping the Shoreline
By Wendy Leger and Roger Gauthier, Common Data Needs
A major goal of the IJC Lake Ontario - St. Lawrence
River Study is to assess impacts of fluctuating water
levels on various user communities in the near shore
zone of the system. The near shore is the most active,
dynamic and productive zone within the system. The actions
of waves and wind shape beaches, dunes, and shore bluffs.
These land-forms and the local climatic effects of the
large water bodies around them determine the characteristics
of local biological communities. These communities,
in turn, sustain the amazing diversity of wildlife that
enriches each of the Great Lakes. From narrow beaches
weathered by wind and waves, to vast coastal wetlands,
inland forests or dune fields, near shore ecosystems
are products of the lakes.
The near shore zone is also where humans interact most
with the lake and river. We live along their shores
and use access to water for industry, commerce, water
supply and recreation. And yet, detailed mapping of
land-forms in the near shore zone and assessments of
changes over time have until recently been overlooked.
Traditional mapping approaches have not allowed for
the type of detailed coverage necessary for modeling
and analyzing impacts.
Recent technology advances in airborne laser mapping
systems now provide unprecedented potential for the
mapping of coastal Topography and bathymetry using airborne
LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) systems that have
a ± 15-cm vertical and 3-metre horizontal accuracy.
LIDAR is an active remote sensing system that uses pulses
of light to illuminate the terrain. By measuring the
travel time of the laser pulse from the aircraft to
the ground and back to the aircraft, a highly accurate
spot elevation can be calculated.
The Plan of Study identified that high resolution mapping
of the near shore both on the land side (Topography)
and under water (bathymetry) was critical for modeling
flooding, erosion and low water level impacts of different
lake level scenarios. These impacts would need to be
assessed on wetland health and sustainability and economics
to private and public shore properties, municipal water
intakes and outflows, recreational boating facilities
and public bathing beaches.
A Common Data Needs Technical Work Group (TWG) was
established under the study to complete the mapping
along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence
River. A million dollars (U.S.) was identified in the
2001 study budget for the Topographic and bathymetric
mapping initiative, split equally between U.S. and Canada.
The initial goal was to collect Topographic and bathymetric
mapping for the entire shoreline of Lake Ontario and
the St. Lawrence River. Unfortunately, the funding available
was insufficient to complete this objective. The Common
Data Needs TWG, therefore, conducted a detailed assessment
of critical priorities and the utility of existing data.
This assessment looked at areas most sensitive to water
level changes, both environmentally and economically;
existing studies and reports; and the accuracy, resolution
and age of existing Topographic, bathymetric and imagery
data for the near shore zone.
Regional shore units were identified along the shoreline
to facilitate this prioritization exercise. The study
area was divided into four geographic regions to define
the shore units: Lake Ontario - U.S, Lake Ontario -
Canada, Upper St. Lawrence River (Wolfe Island to Cornwall/Massena)
and Lower St. Lawrence River (Cornwall/Massena to Trois-Rivières).
Thirty shore units were identified for the study area.
While there are a number of companies offering Topographic
LIDAR collection, there are only two bathymetric LIDAR
systems in the world. In North America, the only system
is the SHOALS (Scanning Hydrographic Operational Airborne
LIDAR System) operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The SHOALS system uses a green laser to penetrate water
and detect bottom depths and an infrared laser that
cannot penetrate water to detect the water surface location.
The SHOALS system can penetrate up to 2 to 3 times the
visible depth, the standard measurement of water clarity.
A major limitation to SHOALS use is turbidity, which
affects large areas of both the upper and lower St.
Lawrence River. Because of this limitation, traditional
acoustic soundings from a small boat will be conducted
in high priority areas of the river wherever possible
and economically feasible.
Based on the prioritization exercise the following
areas and schedule were identified for the mapping initiative.
The Topographic and bathymetric data gathered will
be used to generate computer models of near shore landforms
including elevation, slope and aspect. These digital
elevation models (DEMs) will be combined with other
mapping products of wetland habitats and cultural features
in a comprehensive Geographic Information System (GIS)
for the study.
To see a detailed map of the areas where SHOALS surveys
will be conducted, visit the Common
Data Needs section of our website.
Public Interest Advisory Group Members
Daniel Barletta, Ph.D.
Thomas H. McAuslan
Anthony W. McKenna
John L. Osinski
Henry S. Stewart
Max K. Streibel
Fred Parkinson, Co-Chair
Ivan A. Lantz
Sandra S. Lawn
Mapping the Shoreline
by Dalton Foster and Fred Parkinson
Since completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959,
water levels in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River
have been controlled with the primary objective of satisfying
requirements of the Hydroelectric Power industry, commercial
navigation and riparians. For a number of years now,
other people along the system, both individuals and
associations, have made it known that their interests
should also be incorporated into the regulation plan.
Prime among their concerns are the environment, shoreline
erosion, recreational boating and tourism.
Recognizing these other views, the IJC established
a Public Interest Advisory Group (PIAG) to act as a
contact organization between the public and the technical/scientific
working groups responsible for carrying out the studies.
Members of the PIAG are all volunteers, and many have
long been associated with efforts to review and possibly
improve the manner in which the lake and river system
The volunteers come from varied backgrounds and geographic
areas. Some own businesses, some have scientific training,
many are primarily concerned with the environment, and
others are simply concerned residents. They come from
the western extremes of Lake Ontario down to the lower
St. Lawrence River in the east. They come from both
Canada and the U.S., twelve from each country.
The mission of the group is to serve as an active
communications link between the public and both the
IJC and the scientific/Technical Work Groups. This
has been a daunting task. In a recent issue of the journal
Science, Sir Robert May, president of the Royal Society
of London, discusses this challenge in an editorial
entitled "Science and Society." In this editorial he
asks - "So how best to conduct the dialogue, as old
as democracy itself, between government policymakers
and the public in complex scientific areas, in a manner
that fosters trust?" Sir Robert offers the following
advice. "Consult widely and get the best people; but
also make sure that dissenting voices are heard; recognize
and admit uncertainty; and above all, be open and publish
These are not easy tasks. People's subjective outlooks
greatly influence their perception of the information
they receive and what they observe on the lake or river.
We, the PIAG members, are aware that there are varied,
and sometimes conflicting, views held by people within
the system from different geographic areas and with
different water level concerns. The PIAG will need to
not only bridge the communications gap between the public
and the IJC and scientific/technical groups, but also
between the various areas and interests among the public.
The PIAG has chosen two initial tasks. First, we have
put together a general informational presentation package
that we hope will better explain the scope of the study
and what is to be done. This information will be presented
in open, public meetings, in which people are invited
to take part in active question and answer sessions
on their local situations. Secondly, and most importantly,
we will be asking the public to fill in survey questionnaires
describing how their experiences, both good and bad,
are influenced by the water levels. We will bring this
information back to the study process.
To this end, the PIAG began taking the presentation
package and survey questionnaires to the public in early
June of this year. The first presentation was before
the annual meeting of the International Water Levels
Coalition held in Rockport, ON. The response was very
favorable. Since then we have made a number of presentations
from the Rochester, NY area down-river to Quebec. Responses
to our questionnaires continue to arrive daily by mail.
In fulfilling our objectives, PIAG wishes to ensure
that the results of the study reflect the interests
and the "natural knowledge" of the public. If you would
like more information or a presentation in your area,
please contact Amanda Morelli, Public Affairs Representative
in our Ottawa office, via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sir Robert M. May, Science, 292, (No. 5519), 1021,
Water Levels Survey
The PIAG needs your help in assessing the effects of
water levels on your property (shoreline), your recreational
boating activities and/or the environment and habitat.
They have developed a survey for this purpose, now online
at www.losl.org. Click on
"Public Information Advisory Group" and download "Water
Levels Survey". PIAG members look forward to hearing
Technical Working Group Members
Tom Bender, U.S. Lead
Ralph Moulton, Canadian Lead
Roger Haberly, U.S. Lead
Ivan Lantz, Canadian Lead
Mark Bain, U.S. Lead
Yves De Lafontaine
Christiane Hudon, Canadian Lead
Hydrology and Hydraulics Modeling
Thomas Croley, U.S. Lead
David Fay, Canadian Lead
Hung Tao Shen
Brian Kaye, Canadian Lead
Sylvain Robert, Canadian Lead
Jean-François Bibeault, Canadian Lead
Jonathan Brown, U.S. Lead
Tommy L. Brown
Gary De Young
Six Months of Meetings Get the Lake
Ontario - St. Lawrence River Study Underway
by Doug Cuthbert, Canadian Study Director
Considerable progress has been made since the International
Joint Commission held a meeting in Washington, DC on
December 12, 2000, at which point the Lake Ontario -
St. Lawrence River Study was handed over to this Board.
Since then, the Board has met four times in face-to-face
meetings and has held regular conference calls. The
14 member Board is now at full strength following the
June 13th appointment of Steven Renzetti, from Brock
University in St. Catharines, Ontario.
Study Secretariat offices have been established in
Buffalo, New York and Ottawa, Ontario and are staffed
by full time General Managers, Dr. Tony Eberhardt and
Ed Eryuzlu. Amanda Morelli has joined the team as the
Public Information Officer in Ottawa and this inaugural
newsletter is one of her first initiatives. The Study
Co-Directors, Doug Cuthbert, representing the Canadian
Section, and Dr. Gene Stakhiv of the U.S. Section, along
with the General Managers, make a point of meeting at
least every two weeks in person or by teleconference.
The PIAG consists of 24 members and as a group have
met on three separate occasions. The PIAG is lead by
Dalton Foster on the US side and by Fred Parkinson on
the Canadian side. The PIAG's activities so far include
the distribution of a questionnaire
designed to gauge people's comfort with water levels.
They have also developed an extensive PowerPoint presentation
and are using it to educate and inform communities throughout
the Lake Ontario - St. Lawrence River system. The presentation
was first shown and very well received on June 2nd at
the Annual General Meeting of the International Water
Levels Coalition in Rockport, Ontario. The PIAG members
have copies of this show and are presenting it at other
venues around the lake and river throughout the summer.
If you are holding or participating in a meeting at
which this material would be useful, please contact
a PIAG member or Amanda
Morelli in Ottawa at (613) 992-5727.
Further, eight TWG have been established, with most
of them having already met at least once. These working
groups have produced their Year 1 work plans, are funded
and have begun, a wide range of required technical and
scientific work in support of the study. At last count
a total of 80 people are listed as members of the TWGs.
Lastly, the Board and PIAG members who will liaise with
these TWGs have been identified and are committed to
working productively together.
Some 120 people are now engaged in the study effort
with three to four dozen meetings having been held over
the past six months. That is a lot of talking and opportunity
for information exchange! In addition to meeting with
the International Water Levels Coalition on June 2nd,
the Board was invited to the Mohawk Lands of Akwesasne
on June 12 - 13 and discussed the study with representatives
of the Mohawk Councils. The Board's first public meeting
is scheduled for September 13 in association with the
IJC's 2001 biennial Public
Forum in Montreal.
A lot of work on this Lake Ontario - St. Lawrence River
water levels regulation study has been initiated, with
many people engaged in the effort. So now that we're
organized, it's on with the job! Stay tuned for future
reports and please let us know your thoughts.
First Annual Public Meeting
Please Join Us
The International Lake Ontario - St. Lawrence River
Study Board will be holding its first annual public
meeting on September 13th, 2001, at the Delta Centre-Ville
Hotel in Montréal, Québec from 7:30 to 9:30 pm. The
meeting will coincide with the International Joint Commission's
Public Forum on Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Water Quality,
being held on September 14th and 15th at the same location.
The Study invites you to take part in both events. For
more information about the IJC's Public Forum, please
The Study's public meeting agenda is being finalized
as this newsletter goes to press. To obtain your copy
of the agenda, visit the Study's website at: www.losl.org
and click on Calendar
of Events or contact Amanda Morelli by phone at
Tell Us What You Think
Have Your Say
To ensure that the study is successful, we're relying
on you to tell us your thoughts. We want to know how
you feel about the study and what we are doing. Your
comments will help us to develop final recommendations
that take into account the needs and opinions of the
people who live and work in the Lake Ontario - St. Lawrence
River area. As the Study progresses, there will be many
opportunities for you to participate, in person, by
phone and on-line. Details will be made available as
the study progresses. Visit www.losl.org
as often as possible for updates and information.
Direct Comments and Inquiries to:
Public Information Officer
234 Laurier Avenue, 22nd Floor
Ottawa, ON K1P 6K6
Tel: (613) 992-5727
Fax: (613) 995-9644
Public Affairs Specialist
1776 Niagara Street
Buffalo, NY 14207-3199
Tel.: (716) 879-4438
Fax: (716) 879-4356
Ripple Effects is published periodically by the Public
Information Advisory Group (PIAG) of the International
Lake Ontario - St. Lawrence River Study Board
Editor: Amanda Morelli
We would like to thank all those who contributed to
the first edition of Ripple Effects.