Thursday, August 21, 2014

Groups push for and against lake levels plan

Posted By on Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 12:59 PM

Back in June, the US and Canadian governments received for their consideration Plan 2014, a proposal to regulate water levels in Lake Ontario, from the International Joint Commission. Supporters and opponents of Plan 2014 have been making their voices heard throughout the process. 

This week, a group of 40-plus environmental and sportsmen's groups sent a letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry urging the State Department to sign off on the plan. They cited several positives, such as increased hydropower production at St. Lawrence River dams and benefits to international shipping.

But supporters emphasize the plan's environmental benefits. They say that the current regulating plan has created overly stable water levels in Lake Ontario — degrading coastal environments as a result. Plan 2014 is designed to somewhat mimic the variability in lake levels that'd be present without human intervention. Supporters say that change would help restore important coastal habitats — particularly certain types of wetlands — and increase coastal habitat variety.

Supporters have also reached out to officials in New York State. New York's government also has to approve the plan before the International Joint Commission, a US-Canadian group that handles issues involving water bodies shared between the countries, can implement it.

Opponents of Plan 2014 — primarily residents of communities and counties on Lake Ontario's southern shore — have their own campaign and are reaching out to state, local, and federal officials for support. They say that Plan 2014 would cause property damage and increase the odds of flooding. Property owners would not be compensated for their losses, they say. 

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