Water Levels Advocacy Strategy
GBA has updated its strategy on addressing advocacy issues around water levels, as we balance historical trends with emerging information on climate change impacts to make sense of increasing water levels variability. GBA will explore the need for any improvements that could be made to the collection, dissemination and quality of Great Lakes water levels data to assist in a better understanding of the system and inform future decisions. Then, after ensuring that all the necessary data is available to properly inform decisions, coordinated action on measures to mitigate extreme highs and lows could be instigated.
We will urge that the Great Lakes be treated as one system, in order to comprehensively address all the complexities of its water levels drivers and issues, and the challenges and risks associated with making any flow adjustments.
How is GBA involved?
- GBA initiated discussions with key organizations and scientists at a water levels strategy symposium in the fall of 2020;
- GBA followed this up with a series of webinars on the impacts of extreme water levels and strategies to address future expected increased variability and more extreme levels, both low and high; and
- GBA will continue to push for definitive action on mitigating extreme high and low water levels as the full impacts of climate change become better understood.
With water levels up again this year, GBA is providing timely and accurate information on current and projected water levels, and will work with members and municipalities to share information on mitigation measures and strategies. Some septic systems, docks and low-lying structures are being severely impacted by high water levels, while navigation and access to many residences are impacted by extreme low water levels.
How is GBA Involved?
- GBA analyses data and provides weekly water level reports on the website to keep our membership informed and up to date.
- GBA will continue to provide materials to help members mitigate the impacts of high water levels on septic systems, docks and low lying structures.
- GBA is in consultation with MNRF and municipalities to determine appropriate actions members can take regarding shoreline alterations to protect against variable water levels.
- GBA is working with municipalities to determine whether high water marks currently used in planning bylaws need to be revisited for future planning purposes.
How Can You Help?
- Make sure your septic system is not vulnerable to flooding and/or higher water levels.
- Consider floating docks and replacing unencapsulated blue foam with other more environmentally friendly material.
- Make sure vulnerable shoreline structures are raised or removed where necessary/possible to avoid high water threats.
- Make sure your shoreline is cleaned up, removing dead or dying vegetation so that it is not swept away by flooding and higher water levels.
The Water Levels Committee works with Georgian Bay Forever and other NGOs to voice the interests of GBA members on water levels.
- When water levels hit a historic low, we worked with the MNR to fast track applications for dredging and blasting to ensure that our members could maintain access to their properties.
- We met with the Federal Ministers of Environment and Foreign Affairs and our local MP to secure a commitment that the Government of Canada will address the long-term issue of water levels.
- We work with the International Joint Commission to hold the government accountable for taking action on water levels.
- We network with other key stakeholders on the Great Lakes, such as the Shipping Industry, to initiate action on water levels.
Additional Resources and Links
- Navigating Great Lakes Hydroclimate Data – Frontiers article on Frank Seglenieks study – Feb 2022
- Updated 2021 ECCC Water Levels Probability – Projections for Two Climate Change Scenarios – 2021
- 2021 Great Lakes Climate Modeling Workshop – Sep 2021
- Providing Structural Solutions for Adaptive Management in the Great Lakes – April 29, 2016
- 2010 IJC Water Levels Report – February 18, 2010
- US Army Corps of Engineers Weekly Water Levels Forecast
- Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) Water Levels
- International Joint Commission (IJC)
- LEVELnews Monthly Update on Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Water Levels