The body regulating water levels on Lake Ontario, the International Joint Commission (IJC), has released a proposal for a new management plan. Lake levels have a significant impact on the economic and environmental viability of harbors in upstate New York and Canada.
The last proposal, known commonly as plan Bv7, was highly controversial and received such backlash during the public comment period that the commission had to re-draft it.
The IJC’s new proposal aims to strike a compromise between the concerns of environmental groups and harbor residents.
For years management plans have focused on maintaining levels conducive to maximum economic benefit and minimal damage to shoreline property.
However, losses of ecosystem diversity and drops in bird and fish populations have raised concerns about the environmental impact of unnatural water levels.
Plan Bv7 tried to correct this issue by introducing more extreme highs and lows to water levels more frequently. But, residents argued this plan would come at the price of recreational boating revenue and damage to shoreline property.
“There was a lot of support and a lot of opposition to plan Bv7. The new plan performs nearly as well for the environment as plan Bv7. So there’s a very small trade off that’s being made to provide greater protection to the shoreline communities,” says IJC spokesman Frank Bevacqua.
He says the new plan identifies a range of water level ‘trigger points’. If water rises above or drops below those levels, dams upstream will be used to adjust them.
He says this should protect shoreline properties and protect revenues for commercial and recreational boating.
The public comment period for the new plan is open until August 30th.
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