We will employ the Ecological Limits of Hydrologic Alteration (ELOHA) framework in the Great Lakes drainage of New York and Pennsylvania to develop an objective, spatially explicit process for evaluating the ecological impacts of new withdrawals of water from the tributaries of Lakes Erie, Ontario, and the upper St. Lawrence River. This will provide the information necessary to develop and implement instream flow standards for managing the Great Lakes surface and ground-waters of New York and Pennsylvania under the terms of the Great Lakes Compact. Additional multi-state benefits will include:
- A test of the transferability of the holistic, ELOHA-based technique being developed in the Susquehanna Basin to the Great Lakes Basin;
- Guiding implementation of the Great Lakes Compact in at least two states, with useful information for other states and provinces in the Great Lakes Basin that are part of, or work closely with, NEAFWA (e.g. Vermont, Ontario, Quebec, Ohio);
- Assessment and documentation of the transferability of the project methods and models, to enable other NEAFWA states to determine the utility and applicability of the approach to their states or watersheds.
This two-year project began in January 2011, and engages technical advisors from agencies, universities, and stakeholders in combining testable models of ecological responses to flow alterations with an assessment of current alterations in different types of streams. This combination will enable New York and Pennsylvania to clarify the flows necessary to sustain aquatic life, and implement instream flow policies that balance human and ecosystem needs.