U-M to explore strategies to address water level changes in Great Lakes

To help community stakeholders and decision makers determine the best strategies for dealing with water-level changes in the Great Lakes, the University of Michigan's Graham Sustainability Institute is launching a two-tiered, two-year collaborative research initiative.

ANN ARBOR, MI, Dec. 12, 2014 -- Extreme water-level fluctuations in the Great Lakes, including historic lows on lakes Michigan and Huron in 2013 and substantial upward trends in 2014, are creating serious challenges for many shoreline property owners, tourism-related businesses, municipal planners, and others.

To help these community stakeholders and decision makers determine the best strategies for dealing with these water-level changes, the University of Michigan's Graham Sustainability Institute is launching a two-tiered, two-year collaborative research initiative called the Great Lakes Water Levels Integrated Assessment.

The purpose of the assessment, which is a joint initiative between the Graham Institute's Water Center and its Integrated Assessment Center, is to develop information, tools and partnerships to help decision makers address challenges and opportunities posed by water-level variability. With a focus on lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie, including the Lake-Huron-to-Lake-Erie corridor, the assessment will identify and evaluate environmentally, politically, socially, and economically feasible adaptive actions and policy options.

The first component of the assessment kicked off this month when the Graham Institute issued a Request for Proposals aimed at identifying appropriate localities and partners in the U.S. and Canada willing to collaborate. Up to 10 teams will be selected to receive planning grants of up to $10,000 each for projects to run between March and August 2015.

Each project is to be led by at least two investigators affiliated with an academic institution. Selected projects will focus on identifying key geographies and issues impacted by water-level fluctuations and analyzing viable policies and potential adaptive actions that would meet local objectives, as identified with community partners.

By pinpointing appropriate locations and scoping different approaches, these preliminary projects will lay the groundwork for the full, 18-month integrated assessment, through which four-to-five teams will receive funding of approximately $50,000 each. The purpose of the final assessment, which will run from November 2015 to April 2017, is to help equip the region with a robust set of water-level adaptation strategies that protect the ecological integrity, economic stability and cultural values of each region.

The Graham Institute and Water Center are funding the water levels assessment, with additional anticipated support from regional partners. The assessment is focusing on lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie exclusively, since specific regulatory frameworks are already in place for lakes Ontario and Superior.

See also:

"U-M, Headwaters launch interactive climate change map of Great Lakes region"

"Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding to target algal blooms in Lake Erie"

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