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News stories tagged with "water-levels"

Cattails proliferate in the St. Lawrence River wetland.  Photo: Jenni Werndorf
Cattails proliferate in the St. Lawrence River wetland. Photo: Jenni Werndorf

St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario communities at odds over water levels

Water levels in the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario have been regulated since the 1950s. Levels have been controlled, so they can't rise too high, or drop too low. But the International Joint Commission wants to change that, because the IJC says it's been bad for the environment.

Many scientists and environmental groups support the IJC's plan to allow the water to flow more naturally. But some lake-shore property owners fear that the high water will wash their homes away. Julie Grant reports. Carlet Cleare of WXXI in Rochester assisted in the production of this story.  Go to full article
A dock in Morristown last month, posted by Susan Steffen LaRue to Save the River's Facebook page.
A dock in Morristown last month, posted by Susan Steffen LaRue to Save the River's Facebook page.

Thousand Islands boaters nervous as water level dips

The sun and warm temperatures are starting to bring boaters back to the St. Lawrence River. But especially in the Thousand Islands, they're being greeted by unusually low water levels. A dry winter and warm spring across the Great Lakes is mostly to blame. But that hasn't stopped lawmakers on both sides of the border from clamoring for a new system for controlling water flows. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article
DEC chief Pete Grannis, left, with Clayton town supervisor, Justin Taylor.
DEC chief Pete Grannis, left, with Clayton town supervisor, Justin Taylor.

New York pushes for better water levels management

Friday, the community of Clayton celebrated the completion of a $2.5 million clean-up of prime waterfront on the St. Lawrence River. Frink America's former snowplow plant polluted eight acres of riverside property in the heart of the Thousand Islands. Town supervisor Justin Taylor says the clean-up took almost ten years. The redeveloped property may include a hotel, multi-family residences, businesses, and a riverwalk. The head of New York's Department of Environmental Conservation, Pete Grannis, came to Clayton to deliver the official certificate of completion in person. Grannis stayed in Clayton Saturday for Save the River's Winter Weekend. He updated the members of the environmental group on the stalled study to control water levels on the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. In 2008, the International Joint Commission finished a 5-year, $20 million review of water levels and issued a new plan for controlling them. But then the IJC rescinded that plan, put the whole project on hold, and went back to the bargaining table. Grannis told David Sommerstein that was due to strong opposition from New York.  Go to full article
IJC Chairwoman Irene Brooks faces a determined crowd in Alexandria Bay.
IJC Chairwoman Irene Brooks faces a determined crowd in Alexandria Bay.

River residents make last case for better water levels

At least 260 St. Lawrence River residents spoke with one voice at a water levels hearing last night in Alexandria Bay. It was the last chance to persuade the International Joint Commission to adopt a more environmentally friendly plan for controlling the waters of the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario. The plan, called "B+", has the support of local, state, and federal lawmakers, including Governor David Paterson, and a broad coalition of environmental groups. But following a five year, $20 million study, the IJC wants to implement a plan that's very similar to the original 50-year old one. The agency says it has to protect homeowners along the southern shore of Lake Ontario.  Go to full article

Lake Ontario homeowners: keep water levels as is

Advocates of a new water levels regime for the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario will converge on the Quality Inn in Massena tonight at 7. The International Joint Commission is holding a public hearing on its proposal to replace the 50-year-old water levels plan. The hearings follow a five-year, $20 million study on Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River water levels. North Country stakeholders want the IJC to replace some of the natural ebbs and flows of the water. They say it would benefit wildlife, restore wetlands that are rapidly disappearing, and give boaters a longer season to boot. But right now the IJC opposes that plan because it could damage property along the southern shore of Lake Ontario. So the IJC wants to implement a water levels regime that's very similar to the original plan. Dan Barletta has lived along the Lake Ontario shoreline near Rochester for more than 20 years. He's been very involved in the water levels study. He spoke with David Sommerstein.  Go to full article
Rep. John McHugh (R-Pierrepont Manor)
Rep. John McHugh (R-Pierrepont Manor)

McHugh fights water levels plan in Congress

Congressman John McHugh is leading a fight in Congress to oppose a new water levels plan for the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. McHugh introduced a resolution urging the Secretary of State to turn down the International Joint Commission's new water levels regime, known as "Plan 2007" in favor of one that's better for the environment, called "Plan B+". McHugh has an unlikely ally, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, who co-sponsored the resolution. Slaughter represents the southern shore of Lake Ontario, where homeowners oppose the environmental plan because it could cause more shoreline erosion. But Slaughter told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle the environmental plan is better. McHugh echoes those sentiments, speaking with David Sommerstein.  Go to full article

River residents slam IJC plan

Thousand Islanders gave a harsh welcome to a new water levels plan for the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario last night in Alexandria Bay. The International Joint Commission wants to implement a plan that's similar to the existing 50-year-old formula. That decision has been derided by Congressman John McHugh, Senator Chuck Schumer, New York's DEC, and both Jefferson and St. Lawrence County governments. It even prompted an environmental group to name the St. Lawrence one of the nation's ten most endangered rivers. As David Sommerstein reports, river residents are spoiling for a fight for a plan that's better for the environment and boating.  Go to full article

St. Lawrence declared "endangered river"

The St. Lawrence is one of the ten most endangered rivers in the United States, according to a national environmental group. The list by American Rivers highlights ten rivers facing decisions in the coming year that could determine their future. The St. Lawrence made the list after a binational commission issued a new plan for controlling water levels on the River and Lake Ontario last month. The International Joint Commission balked at choosing a more environmentally-friendly plan, which was the preferred alternative in the North Country. Instead, it selected a water levels plan very similar to the original one developed 50 years ago. It aims to reduce the natural highs and lows of the River. The IJC says it's obligated by treaty to protect properties along the southern shore of Lake Ontario from erosion. The IJC is holding hearings over the summer. Environmentalists and state lawmakers are trying to get the commissioners to change their minds. In a press release, Congressman John McHugh says the "endangered river" designation should "spur action" to put pressure on the IJC. New York Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis said in a statement that the IJC is poised to "botch a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to return more natural flows" to the St. Lawrence. Jennifer Caddick directs Save the River, based in Clayton. She told David Sommerstein the St. Lawrence River is at a crossroads.  Go to full article

New York slams water levels plan

A new plan for controlling water levels on the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario is drawing fire from all quarters of New York. The International Joint Commission announced this morning it supports a minor tweaking of a plan called "D-Plus". That plan is very similar to the existing, 50-year-old plan and provides only minor benefits for the environment. It's the result of a seven-year, $20 million study. As David Sommerstein reports, leaders in New York say the results are a waste of time and money.  Go to full article
Freighter in the Thousand Islands.
Freighter in the Thousand Islands.

IJC: Environmental plan just out of reach

A binational commission has chosen a new plan for controlling water levels on the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. The International Joint Commission says "Plan 2007" is a minor tweak of a plan called "D+" and benefits almost every stakeholder in the region. The IJC says it improves conditions for hydropower, shipping, and some wetlands in Lake Ontario over the existing plan. And it makes water levels more reliable for the Port of Montreal. The IJC is making its decision official at press conferences in Washington and Ottawa this morning at 10. Irene Brooks is the U.S. chair of the Commission. She told David Sommerstein the IJC wanted to choose the best plan for the environment, which is known as "B+". "B+" is by far the preferred alternative in the North Country. But Brooks says that plan would cause too much erosion along the southern shore of Lake Ontario, near Rochester, and hurt property owners.  Go to full article

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