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Does the plan reduce environmental impacts?

This is the fifth of nine Study Board decision criteria used in the evaluation of Lake Superior regulation plans. Lake Superior levels under plan 1977A are not that much different from unregulated lake levels and there is no evidence that wetlands along the coast of Lake Superior have been affected by the current regulation plan. (Georgian Bay wetlands are clearly affected by GIA and the increased conveyance of the St. Clair River, but these impacts cannot be significantly reduced through regulation of Lake Superior). The concern for Lake Superior is how NBS conditions that are significantly drier or wetter than the historical record could affect the environment. The Study Board used metrics, developed by Study investigators, to rate new plans that attempted to reflect these relatively small changes. A coping zone metric was used to rate water level conditions. The basic criterion was that the new plan should perform at least as well as the existing plan. The criterion used the 34 environmental performance metrics assessed within an Integrated Ecologic Response Model (IERM2). The IERM2 calculated wetland vegetation indicators directly from water level characteristics, and generated other indicators based on water levels and wetland vegetation information. Detailed analysis of the plan results for these 34 ecosystem indicators showed the differences between plans were generally insignificant. For many indicators, there were no differences between plans when simulated with the same NBS, even though there could be great differences in ecosystem indictor metrics between two different NBS sequences regardless of which plan was used. There were numerical differences between plans in eight ecosystem indicators, and in several cases, differences between plans with respect to these indicators were important.
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