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Owens wants to know cost of Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence water level plan

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U.S. Representative Bill Owens says environmentalists shouldn't be concerned about his stand on a new water level plan for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

The International Joint Commission started controlling high and low water levels in the 1950s. While that's kept a stable water level, the agency now says it's bad for the environment. The new plan allows water levels to reach higher highs and lower lows.

The IJC has yet to release all the plan details. Congressman Owens recently wrote to the agency, urging closer attention to shoreline property damage along Lake Ontario. He says that damage could exceed $3 million annually.

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Julie Grant
Reporter and Producer

"I want to make sure that those property owners see the complete report and can do their own independent analysis.  That’s really all I’m asking."

The Watertown Daily Times reports that this concern for Lake Ontario property owners raised eyebrows at Save the River, an environmental group in Clayton.  Save the River agrees with environmental scientists who say allowing greater variation in water levels will support shoreline wetlands, provide animal habitat, and also protect against flooding.
Owens doesn’t disagree...

"This needs to be addressed.  The current situation has been in effect for 60 or 70 years it needed to be updated.  I think the IJC has done a good job of pulling together all the necessary data, now it’s time for the them to get the full report out, so that all the stakeholders can take a look, and I fully expect that at the end of the day, we’ll be supporting it."

Owens tells the Watertown Times that he wants funds available to mitigate the costs to southshore property owners.  The IJC still has a long process ahead, including public hearings, before seeking approvals from Canada and the U.S.

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