Driving consensus on what to do about water levels in Georgian Bay. Online event.

In the last 7 years, we have seen water levels in Georgian Bay break records on the high and low side, causing damage, hardships and anxiety. In January 2013, the all-time record low was set at 175.57 metres. Fast forward to 2020: although the all-time 1986 highest record of of 177.50 metres hasn't been broken yet, every monthly record high has been broken for eight months in a row, with one July measurement just shy of all the-time record by about 5 centimetres. Going from an unusable boat house to one that is sinking underwater is one small example of many difficulties of extreme water levels.
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Mitigating water level extremes. Be part of the discussion.

What drives water levels is very complex, and a range of about 6 feet over time is not unusual. In fact, a range is important for the unique character and biodiversity of Georgian Bay as part of Lake Huron-Michigan. What is different is the new extremes that water levels seem to be reaching - the range appears to be expanding and more volatile.

There's a lot of information out there on water levels and what to do to take the edges off the increasing extreme high-highs and low-lows. It's a challenge to know what information is best to act on. This symposium aims to bring together the experts, scientists and stakeholders, to drive consensus about what should be done.

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Hear directly from scientists and policy makers.

1. The morning session objective - To achieve a consensus among scientists about:

    A. What we know and don’t know about water-level fluctuation cycles;
    B. What we know and don’t know about human influences in the system;
    C. Whether we have all the data we need to understand water levels and, if not, what data and data-collection approaches should be prioritized; and
    D. How can existing and to-be-collected data be rationalized and presented to better inform decision-making.

Water Levels Up and Down Georgian Bay

2. Afternoon session - To achieve a consensus among stakeholders about:

    E. What improvements could be made to coordination between control boards, and their coordination with other water levels control structures in the system, to better address extreme high and low water levels.

    F. Action needed to make any such improvements that are identified as being needed to better address extreme high and low water levels.


3. The format is designed to present concise information from rigorously chosen experts to your OWN screen. It is a virtual event.

Four speakers will provide short, focused 5-minute presentations on each topic as above, and will then form a panel to answer questions from participants related to each topic. In the morning, these will be qualified scientists, engineers and academics. In the afternoon, after a 30 minute lunch break, the speakers will be those who can comment on the current system of human interferences (control boards etc.) in the Great Lakes system, the decision making process and how it could be better coordinated to achieve some mitigation of extreme high and low water levels. After 2 sections, structured in the same way as in the morning, there will be a 30-minute wrap up discussion and Q&A.

Who are the speakers?

Speakers

  • John Allis - Chief, Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office
    United States Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District
  • Rob Caldwell - Canadian Secretary, International Joint Commission
  • Drew Gronewold – Associate Professor Conservation Ecology, Climate and Energy | Water, Michigan
  • Erika Klyszejko - Engineering Advisor with the International Joint Commission
  • Rick Layzell – Chief Executive Officer of Boating Ontario and member of the Great Lakes Adaptive Management Committee (GLAM) public advisory board
  • Wendy Leger - Head of the Boundary Waters Issues Unit at Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), and Canadian Chair of GLAM
  • Frank Seglenieks - Water Resources Engineer for ECCC

Remarks

  • Pierre Béland - Canadian Chair & Commissioner, of the International Joint Commission
  • Elder Marilyn Capreol is Anishinaabe from Shawanaga First Nation in Ontario and is a founding member of the Conservation through Reconciliation Partnership Elder’s Lodge
  • Gord Walker, Q.C. - Former Canadian Section Chair & Commissioner, of the International Joint Commission
  • The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson - Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • John Carson, President, Georgian Bay Association and Adam Chamberlain, Chair, Georgian Bay Forever
Water Levels Symposium Graph

Additional Background Information

In order to better understand the material being presented and discussed, we are providing you with the following materials as important background information that will enhance your experience.

Prepare by Watching Water Levels 101
This symposium will take you beyond water levels 101. For that reason, we recommend that you watch GBF’s David Sweetnam’s 1-hour recorded webinar: Water Levels, What’s Going On?This will give you an overview of the 13 complex drivers of water levels that fall under categories of hydrologic, geomorphic, and regulatory. Click here.

Changing conditions can impact these drivers rapidly, so we have also added links to updates and more detailed information on a couple of those drivers:

About the hosts:

The Georgian Bay Association is a not-for-profit advocacy organization that acts as an umbrella group for 19 cottage associations along the eastern and northern shores of Georgian Bay, representing over 3,000 families.
Formed in 1916, our mandate to protect the fragile and finite water and land resources of the Bay has not changed in over 100 years. Our mission is to work with our water-based communities and other stakeholders to ensure the careful stewardship of the greater Georgian Bay environment.
Learn more about the Georgian Bay Association at www.georgianbay.ca
Georgian Bay Forever is a charity dedicated to scientific research and public education on Georgian Bay's aquatic ecosystem.
Our mission is to protect, enhance, and restore the aquatic ecosystem of Georgian Bay by funding accredited research on water levels, water quality, and ecosystems; by educating the public and governments on issues regarding the environmental protection, conservation, the safety and preservation of the water and the natural features of the Georgian Bay area of Ontario; and by enhancing the public's appreciation for their environment.
To donate, please click here.
Learn more about Georgian Bay Forever at www.gbf.org