Coastal areas of the United States are highly populated due to their richness in natural resources and economic opportunity. With this opportunity comes increasing competition for development. This places intensive strains on natural resources and land along coasts, resulting in damage to ecosystem health. In addition to competitive development, climate change poses a major threat to coastal communities as they are vulnerable to a variety of environmental factors (EPA, 2016). Many coastal communities have formed coordinated approaches to manage water levels and build resilience along shorelines. However, many of these approaches result in a variety of problems and are not always successful in flood prevention. A current example is the International Joint Commission’s (IJC) Plan 2014. Since its implementation, the IJC has faced significant backlash and accusations of not serving to the best interests of shoreline communities. In this thesis, I explore Plan 2014 and assess the manner in which it is designed and implemented. This is done by performing a literature review on successful coastal management plans to develop an assessment framework. Interviews were conducted with a variety of stakeholders, ranging from IJC commissioners to shoreline residents. In addition, a Rapid Automatic Keyword Extraction was performed to understand media portrayals of the floodings and policies. It was found that the IJC did a sufficient job throughout the design and implementation stages of Plan 2014. A variety of factors such as social media misinformation, local politics, misinterpretation of science and more were identified as major deterrents to the public image of the IJC and Plan 2014. Proposed recommendations encompass priorities the IJC should take to better design and implement policy.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

International Joint Commission--Evaluation; International Joint Commission--Public opinion; Water--Management--Government policy--Great Lakes (North America)--Case studies; Coastal ecology--Government policy--Great Lakes (North America)--Case studies; Coastal engineering--Government policy--Great Lakes (North America)--Case studies; Water levels--Management--Government policy--Ontario, Lake (N.Y. and Ont.)--Case studies

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Science, Technology and Public Policy (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Public Policy (CLA)


Sandra Rothenberg

Advisor/Committee Member

Franz Foltz

Advisor/Committee Member

Jim Howe


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes