Improved communication of Great Lakes water level information
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Improved communication of Great Lakes water level information

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    This report outlines a strategy for improving the content and communication of Great Lakes water level information. It is hoped that by providing decision-makers with more helpful information, the social and economic disruptions caused by fluctuating lake levels can be mitigated. To define the water level information needs of the decision-makers, an assessment of user needs was conducted by phone interview. This was not a scientific survey, but an attempt to interview as many informed representatives of different water level information user groups as time allowed. Sixty-five interviews were completed during the fall of 1991. The user needs assessment revealed that unmet needs seem to be concentrated in certain user groups: coastal engineers emergency government workers, recreational boaters and marina operators, and riparians. Some of the needs expressed included better extreme level statistics, more storm surge information, better access to historical and real-time data, and a more understandable water level bulletin. According to our small sampling, there are many user groups that are satisfied with the water level information they now receive. The water level bulletins prepared monthly by the governments of Canada and the United States proved to be the most widely used decision-making tools. As effective as they are, it was also apparent that, even among frequent users, the bulletins are not completely understood. This suggested strategy for improving the quality and communication ofwater level information involves (1) developing better extreme level statistical decision-making tools, (2) proposing to the relevant agencies that subtle changes be made to the water level bulletins to increase their understanding, and (3) tailoring existing forecast and statistical information so that users can take better advantage of the wealth of Great Lakes water level information generated by governments. Authors of this report included J. Philip Keillor, Charles F. Southam, Murray Clamen, and Deborah H. Lee
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