GBA 2021 - Spring Update

Vol. 31 No. 1, Spring 2021 Environmental Protections and Planning .......................................8 President’s Report ............................11 ED’s Advocacy Report.......................12 Upcoming Events...............................14 News and I nformat i on f rom the Georg i an Bay Assoc i at i on Helen Bryce – A Green and Blue Powerhouse for Georgian Bay PAGE 7 PAGE 10 PM # 40038178 GBA U P D A T E Your Voice on the Bay A Legacy of Keeping Fish Healthy Continues on page 2 INS IDE : By Rupert Kindersley, Executive Director T he extreme high water levels over the last two years have once again sparked considerable interest, anxiety, and a demand for answers, as happened when we experienced extreme low water levels in 2012/3. To address these concerns, GBA and Georgian Bay Forever (GBF) jointly hosted an online water levels symposium in October 2020 to get comprehensive answers to key questions from an experienced, knowledgeable, and credible group of scientists and decision makers. This event was highly successful, with substantive participation from both attendees and the well-regarded presenters. The presenters are acknowledged academics and institutional experts, with peer-reviewed publications in the disciplines involved. Many are responsible for the development and implementation of the regulatory Great Lakes water levels plans for Canada and the US. Although climate change is expected to have a significant influence on future water levels, the experts, GBA, and GBF identified a range of actions that could be taken to mitigate extreme high and low water levels, and to build greater understanding of drivers of water levels in the Great Lakes. Experts Answer Your Top Questions about Water Levels Our Top 10 Questions on Water Levels The 699 registrants, 432 of whom were able to join the online symposium, furnished 259 questions. Here are the top 10 questions that members wanted answers to: 1 What are the three most important things to know as an “islander” about water levels? 1) Increases in precipitation levels over the last few years have been the prime driver of the current higher levels. However, there is considerable uncertainty surrounding future water levels as no predictions are accurate beyond about six months. 2) Future extreme highs and lows may exceed past extreme levels and occur more often, so past trends may no longer be a guide to future water levels. 3) Given these uncertainties, and the potential for higher energy storms, it would be prudent to plan for wilder weather, lower lows, and higher highs going forward. 2 Can something be done to stop the rising water on Georgian Bay? How can the levels be controlled? Is there any ability to control lake levels? Governments do not control water levels. The levels are dictated primarily by changing weather patterns over the years – precipitation and evaporation levels being the most significant contributing factors. However, adjustments at control structures such as dams should be used as much as possible to mitigate extreme high/low water levels. Photo: Rolfe Jones