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The Great Lakes states and provinces share the goal to protect, conserve, improve and manage the waters and water-dependent natural resources of the Great Lakes Basin for the sustainable use and benefit of current and future generations. On June 18, 2001, the Great Lakes governors and premiers released a Supplementary Agreement to the Great Lakes Charter, Annex 2001, which updates how requests for all new water uses and diversions of water outside of the Great Lakes drainage basin will be addressed. Among other requirements, Annex 2001 requires that all new withdrawals and diversions, will not individually or cumulatively cause significant adverse impacts and will result in an improvement to the basin's waters and water dependent resources. The authors have developed a series of hypothetical cases that demonstrate how such improvements could be made, measured and evaluated using a Net Environmental Benefit Analysis (NEBA) framework and tools. These examples use a Habitat Equivalency Analysis (HEA) model, which provides a mathematical framework for scaling resource compensation to offset resource impacts and to measure improvement.

The objective of the model is to determine the ecological value of the Great Lakes Basin to society that the proposed actions would yield. This is accomplished by determining the value of the ecological service flows over time from the natural resources of the Great Lakes Basin with the actions relative to the value of the ecological service flows over time from the natural resources of the Great lakes Basin without the action. A positive environmental benefit results when the package of water conservation measures, actions to increase return flows, and water resource habitat restoration and protection measures generates water resource enhancements that more than off-set any water resource quality or quantity losses due to the new withdrawal or diversion.

Besides providing a method to assess the ecological changes due to individual proposals, the NEBA framework is a heuristic tool to use in decision support system design, and offers a systematic way to identify research priorities. This technology has wide applicability and would easily transfer to other watershed management and natural resource stewardship applications.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2002-01-01

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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