Graham Sustainability Institute

Huron County Integrated Assessment of Extreme Water Levels

Project Team

Lynne Peterson (PI) – Local Government and Integrated Policy Consultant
George Arhonditsis (PI), Helen McRae, Meghan Allerton – University of Toronto
Agnes Richards – Environment and Climate Change Canada
Kate Proctor –  Land-use planning consultant and Huron County farmer
Tonia Wanio –  Municipal finance and land-use planning consultant

Project Summary

The Great Lakes Water Levels Integrated Assessment aimed to help decision makers address the challenges and opportunities posed by Great lakes water level variability.
For a decade, ending only recently, Ontario’s Huron County experienced the full gamut of issues related to low water levels along its 62 miles of shoreline, with the Huron coast registering the lowest water levels in recorded history in January 2013. Over the next two years, water levels rebounded with near record precipitation. This has improved the significant challenges low water levels posed for commercial shipping, recreational boating, ecosystem health and water quality, but high water levels have resulted in tourist complaints that beaches have shrunk, and bluff erosion is threatening some 550 cottages and other waterfront structures.
This team will worked with the multi-stakeholder Huron County Water Protection Steering Committee to develop a site-specific description of issues arising from both high and low water extremes, together with potential actions and options that could be taken by governmental, environmental, business and residential stakeholders. Additional project partners and stakeholders included the Maitland Valley and Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authorities, Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation, Huron County Planning and Development Department, and shoreline residents associations.


This project received a $50,000 Integrated Assessment Grant in 2015.