Integrated Management of Dams and Resilience of Local Communities to Climate Change

The project will make it possible to adapt dam management to climate change and the water needs of local communities.

Project details
Scientific program
2014-2019 programming
Theme(s) and priority(s)
Water Management
Start and duration
May 2019 • 20 months
Project Status
In progress
Principal(s) investigator(s)
Catherine Frizzle
Catherine Choquette
Université de Sherbrooke


The management of a dam involves selecting the water level in the upstream reservoir basin and the flow to be discharged in the downstream section of the river. These choices, which are often criticized by local residents, can vary according to season, climate events or specific needs.

The legally binding criteria for the dam manager are mainly concerned with the safety of the dam (potential for breach) as well as its purpose (e.g. hydroelectricity production). Several water uses can therefore be found within the same watershed (consumption, ecosystems, agriculture, industry, leisure, electricity).

Since the water needs arising from these various uses are often in competition, it is impossible to satisfy them simultaneously at all times, which inevitably leads to conflicts of use. By accentuating periods of high flow and drought or by modifying peak periods, climate change exacerbates these conflicts.


Reduce the vulnerability of dam managers and neighboring local communities to the impacts of climate change on dam water levels.


  • Simulate flows from the watersheds upstream of the Lake Montjoie, Lake Massawippi and Grand Lac Saint-François dams in a climate change context and model water level management in order to establish management rules and transmit this knowledge to target clientele;

  • Collect, from the stakeholders of each of the targeted watersheds, local knowledge related to the impacts of climate change on their water resources and the various uses of water in the region and transmit this knowledge to scientists for use in adjusting dam management plans;

  • Hold facilitation sessions in order to co-construct dam management plans.

Expected results

The facilitation sessions are expected to lead to two deliverables: dam management plans that are adapted to climate change and that integrate local concerns, and adaptation plans to address residual risks that cannot be addressed through better dam management.

In addition, an implementation strategy for the plans and follow-up planning, scheduled every five years, will be developed. Given the large number of dams, tools for popularizing the approach will be produced to assist communities and dam managers.

Benefits for adaptation

Benefits for adaptation

The project will make it possible to adapt dam management to climate change and the water needs of local communities. The results will help compensate for the lack of resilience of these communities to the residual risks arising from climate change, which cannot be addressed in the dam management plan and must therefore be taken care of by local stakeholders.


Other participants

  • Ministère de l’Environnement et Lutte contre les Changements climatiques (MELCC)


  • Université du Québec à Rimouski

  • Université de Montréal

  • Université McGill

  • Western Ontario University

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