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Environmental diplomacy & community-based efforts to enhance resilience of the Lake Champlain Basin Ecosystem Christopher Brown, NMSU Department of Geography.

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Presentation on theme: "Environmental diplomacy & community-based efforts to enhance resilience of the Lake Champlain Basin Ecosystem Christopher Brown, NMSU Department of Geography."— Presentation transcript:

1 Environmental diplomacy & community-based efforts to enhance resilience of the Lake Champlain Basin Ecosystem Christopher Brown, NMSU Department of Geography Courtney Hammond, UVM Rubenstein School of the Environment and Natural Resources Asim Zia, UVM Department of Community Development and Applied Economics

2 The Lake Champlain Basin (LCB) The Basin: 21,326 square kilometers, international basin of major importance to Quebec, Vermont, and New York. The Lake: 1,127 square kilometers in area, over 122 meters deep, 193 kilometers long. The Richelieu River:  Lake Champlain waters enter the Richelieu River, flow north to the St. Lawrence River, driving international dimension

3 Lake Champlain Basin Lake segments: The Lake is divided into five distinct areas, each with different physical and chemical characteristics and water quality – arguing for sub-basin management focus? :Population in the Basin: 571,000 in About 68% live in Vermont, 27% in New York, and 5% in Quebec, reinforcing international relevance of the basin and its waters. Drinking Water Use: 200,000 people or about 35% of the Basin’s population, depend on Lake Champlain for drinking water.

4 Major water resource issues in the basin Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) 2013 State of the Lake and Ecosystems Indicators Report: –Nutrient loading due to treated effluent poses threats to water quality and ecosystem health: Blue green algae blooms are problematic. Health concerns are reflected by beach closings. –High snowmelt runoff, spring flood, and storm remnants pose heightened flood risk. Climate change will increase runoff carrying nutrients, negatively impacting vulnerable communities on both sides of the border.

5 Missisquoi Bay Greatly exceed P target Seasonal BGA blooms Extensive agriculture South Lake Exceeds P targets Excess weed growth Water chestnut and Eurasian watermilfoil Much of the watershed is intensively farmed Northeast Arm Exceeds P targets Seasonal BGA blooms Extensive agriculture and urban areas Phosphorus Concentrations By Lake Segment

6 Blue-Green Algae - what & where is the problem? Blooms smell bad & look ugly Blooms are sometimes toxic Several dogs died from exposure People worry … for good reason Blue-Green Algae Blooms Algae blooms are often severe in Missisquoi Bay, St. Albans Bay, and smaller northeastern bays, but most of the Lake rarely has a dense blue-green bloom.

7 Lake Champlain Flood 2011 Missisquoi Bay, St. Armand, QC September, 2011

8 Existing binational management envelope Federal (1996) and state-provincial (2010) MOUs set up Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) Working with NGOs, local communities, and basin residents, the LCBP –binational effort managed by the MOUs and supported with funding by the USEPA and province of Québec that –works to “to coordinate and fund efforts that benefit the Lake Champlain Basin’s water quality, fisheries, wetlands, wildlife, recreation, and cultural resources (LCBP 2014).”

9 Lake Champlain Basin Program Operating Structure Technical Advisory Committee 3 Citizens Advisory Committees: Quebéc Vermont New York Education & Outreach Advisory Committee Lake Champlain Steering Committee New York Members Dept. of Environmental Conservation Dept. of Economic Development Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Dept. of Agriculture and Markets Mayor (vacant) Vermont Members Agency of Natural Resources Agency of Transportation Department of Agriculture Agency of Commerce and Community Development Mayor (vacant) US Federal Members US Department of Interior US Department of Agriculture, NRCS US Environmental Protection Agency US Fish & Wildlife Service US National Park Service US Army Corps of Engineers Quebéc Members Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune Ministere de l’Agriculture, des Pecheries et de l”alimentation Mayor: Municipalite de Saint- Georges-de-Clarenceville LCBP Executive Committee Other Members · · · Other Members · Citizens Advisory Committee Chairs: Quebéc, Vermont, New York · Standing Committee Chairs : Technical, Educational, Cultural Heritage · Lake Champlain SeaGrant Heritage Area Partnership Advisory Committee

10 LCBP Opportunities for Action Highest Priorities for Action Improve public understanding of pollution problems and promote better stewardship Improve public understanding of pollution problems and promote better stewardship Reduce phosphorus inputs & toxic contamination Reduce phosphorus inputs & toxic contamination Maintain diverse plant & animal communities Maintain diverse plant & animal communities Prevent introduction & control the spread of nonnative aquatic invasive species Prevent introduction & control the spread of nonnative aquatic invasive species Identify potential changes in climate and develop adaptation strategies to minimize adverse ecosystem impact. Identify potential changes in climate and develop adaptation strategies to minimize adverse ecosystem impact. Build knowledge of history, culture and special resources in the Basin and make information accessible to all. Build knowledge of history, culture and special resources in the Basin and make information accessible to all. plan.lcbp.org

11 Addressing LCB Action Opportunities Social-Ecological Systems (SES) Approach –Identify vulnerable communities within the basin –Build on existing efforts: LCBP Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Change in LCB (NSF Vermont EPSCoR) Develop policy initiatives to advance resiliency of water quality regimes in the LCB and improve quality of life of basin’s residents.

12 Social-Ecological Systems Framework Framework of core subsystems for analyzing social-ecological systems (Ostrom, 2009).

13 Resilience in Social-Ecological Systems “Resilience is the capacity of a complex system to remain within a regime in the face of external perturbations and /or internal change” (Holling, 1973, as cited in Garmestani and Benson, 2013) Ecosystem Perspective Health and functioning of resource ecosystem Economic Perspective Business/Industry built around resource management or extraction Social-cultural Perspective Community importance and cultural heritage based in resource

14 SES framework and the LCB Towns Recreation Tourism Industry Agriculture vulnerable communities Phosphorous loading, invasive species, and flooding Governance and policy of: Vermont New York Quebec United States Canada International Joint Commission? Point source pollution Non-point source pollution Treatment facilities Other? Framework of core subsystems for analyzing social-ecological systems (Ostrom, 2009).

15 Research objectives Create a trans-boundary, social-ecological system framework for water quality management in the Lake Champlain Basin. Identify vulnerable communities and resilience capacity in the management system. In conjunction with vulnerable communities derive community specific metrics for water quality Propose policy interventions or alternative mechanisms for addressing vulnerabilities.

16 Questions related to water quality resilience in vulnerable communities in the Lake Champlain Basin What are the interactions that underpin water quality management in the region? Are vulnerable communities present in these interactions? What are the important water quality issues for vulnerable communities? Drinking water, water access, cultural heritage, subsistence, etc. How formalized are these vulnerable communities in Vermont, New York and in Quebec? Are there strong trans-border ties between communities across the US/CAN border? How effectively do regional, national, and international policies address water quality that impact vulnerable communities?

17 Methods Social-Ecological System approach to identify vulnerabilities to water resources in the LCB. An explicitly watershed- based approach, using GIS to capture, map, & analyze geospatial data,Explore A participatory GIS-based (PGIS) engagement process to engage regional stakeholders to identify key issues of importance to community, alternative dispute resolution tools to develop community- based policy mechanisms to advance resiliency.

18 Proposed outcomes A current GIS dataset of relevant biophysical & human resource variables, A PGIS toolset to help local residents better understand nutrient loading, invasive species issues, and flood dynamics, Specific actionable ideas to advance resilience in adaptive water management regimes and improved quality of life of Basin’s residents.

19 Any questions? Algunas Preguntas? Des questions?

20 Bamford, D., C. Stroh, and B. Svivak Webinar on Participatory GIS in Coastal Zone Management, hosted by Ecosystem-Based Management Tools Network, 5 November Brown, C “Comparative Approaches to Governance and Management of Water Resources in North America.” VertigO, La revue électronique en sciences de l'environnement, Hors série 7 | juin VertigO is an electronic journal published by l'Université du Québec à Montréal. Journal is available at Garmestani, A. S., and M. H. Benson “A framework for resilience-based governance of social-ecological systems.” Ecology and Society 18(1): 9. Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) State of the Lake and Ecosystems Indicators Report, available at accessed 5 September 2013.http://sol.lcbp.org/ Latta, M “Canada US Transboundary Hydrographic Data Harmonization Efforts Gain Momentum.” IJC publication describing work of the IJC Transboundary Hydrographic Data Harmonization Task Force. Ostrom, E “A general framework for analyzing sustainability of social-ecological systems.” Science 325, Ostrom, E “Background on the Institutional Analysis and Development Framework.” Policy Studies Journal 39(1), 7-27.


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