Battle lines drawn over Lake Ontario plan
Debate centers on scientific interpretations
Fair balance of interests proves difficult
Commissioners of the International Joint Commission on Thursday signed an updated order of approval for the regulation of water levels and flows in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.
The updated order makes it possible for the IJC to approve Plan 2014, a new regulation plan for determining the flows through the Moses-Saunders Dam on the St. Lawrence River between Cornwall, Ontario, and Massena in St. Lawrence County. The updated order and plan replace a system of regulating flows developed in the 1950s.
"Plan 2014 is a modern plan for managing water levels and flows that will restore the health and diversity of coastal wetlands, perform better under changing climate conditions and continue to protect against extreme high and low water levels," U.S. Section chair Lana Pollack said.
"We are pleased that Plan 2014 will bring systemwide improvements, with consideration of ecosystem health and recreational boating along with shoreline communities, commercial navigation and hydropower production," Canadian Section Chair Gordon Walker said.
Plan 2014 will continue to protect shoreline property and will retain, essentially unchanged, the environmental conditions and coastal protections on the lower St. Lawrence River, below the Moses-Saunders Dam, IJC officials said. The plan will improve ecosystem health and diversity on Lake Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence River and provide net economic benefits.
The IJC said it will instruct its board to ensure flows through the power project are set in accordance with Plan 2014 beginning in January.
The plan has faced opposition, particularly from property owners along the south shore of Lake Ontario. Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, Erie County, released a sharply worded response following the announcement.
“If the International Joint Commission thinks for a second that Plan 2014 will ever be fully implemented, they are sorely mistaken,” Collins said. “I can guarantee you that I will do everything in my power to protect the taxpayers, homeowners and small businesses along the Lake Ontario shoreline that are set to be devastated by this bureaucratic disaster.
“As long as I am a member of Congress, I will fight to block any and all funding paths this plan needs to be implemented,” Collins added. “Additionally, the incoming Republican administration will know from Day One how important it is to eliminate Plan 2014 once and for all.”
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