Friday 7. February 2014

Dealing with Extreme Water Levels in the Great Lakes

On Friday, February 7 at 14:00, Robert Salisbury will present and defend his thesis, titled Extreme Water Levels in the Great Lakes: Assessing a Proposal for Adaptive Management. Abstract is below. Robert will present via Skype. Everyone is welcome to attend.


In March 2012, after 5 years of study, and at a cost of $14.6 million U.S., the International Upper Great Lakes Study Board (“IUGLS”) issued its Final Report to the International Joint Commission (“IJC”) entitled ‘Lake Superior Regulation: Addressing Uncertainty in Upper Great Lake Water Levels’ (“IUGLS Final Report”). The IUGLS Final Report proposed an adaptive management (“AM”) strategy to address extreme water level conditions in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River system. Following issuance of the IUGLS Final Report, the IJC directed preparation of an AM Plan. Consequently, this work reviewed the AM Plan and background material as an AM Proposal and assessed adherence to identified AM strategy selection criteria. Starting with a review of the context for the IJC determination of strategy for managing water level uncertainty, seminal literature regarding AM theory enabled selection criteria to be identified. These informed the development of an assessment framework which was subsequently used to evaluate the AM Proposal. From this assessment, issues emerged regarding problem definition, stakeholder engagement and cost benefit. Consequently, it was concluded that the AM Proposal, as drafted, does not demonstrate sufficient agreement with AM selection criteria for it to be recommended. Specifically, the AM Proposal was found to require a more robust consideration of the AM value proposition for stakeholders, their management information needs, and capacity to adopt AM management practices. It was concluded that if the AM Plan remains in its current form, it will simply add to conclusions found in the literature that AM rarely gets beyond policy description. Further study is recommended, particularly at stakeholder level, to determine whether an AM strategy for water level management on the scope and scale of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River System can avoid the lack of implementation exhibited by other AM initiatives.

Advisor: Dr. Mike Phillips. Reader: Dr. Áslaug Ásgeirsdóttir.