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St. Lawrence River Water Levels – Spring 2017

April 14th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

St. Lawrence River Water Levels – Spring 2017

The snow and ice are gone, and the beauty of River this time of year is drawing us all to it – whether for a walk along its banks, or to the end of the dock. And boaters are anticipating the day they launch. However we get to the River, it’s pretty clear the water is higher than we’re used to seeing this time of year.

Naturally it leads to questions about why and what will the higher level mean for this summer?

Is the water level of the River higher than usual this year?

Yes and No

Yes – It is a little more than 18” above its recent (1918 – 2016) average for this time of year and about 6” higher than last year.

No – Not in the bigger picture. The River is actually around 6” below the level it would be if were undammed and still allowed to run unobstructed.

Why are water levels higher than last year?

The water in the St Lawrence is higher than last year because the supply of water flowing into the river has been greater.

The River is not an isolated water body, it is part of a large, complex system. When looking at the level of the River, it is important to look at where its water comes from and the other factors that influence levels. It is fed by the outflow from Lakes Ontario and Erie, snowfall, and rainfall and runoff. And at times it must be controlled due to conditions on the lower river below the Moses-Saunders Dam.

According to the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board,

A series of storm events passed through the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system from April 4-10, resulting in significant precipitation across the region. Some eastern parts of the Lake Ontario basin received as much as 3.2” (80mm), while areas around the St. Lawrence River near Montreal saw as much as 3.5” (90mm) during the same series of events. . . The wet conditions have resulted in rapidly rising water levels throughout the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River system. . . To prevent . . . levels from rising further and causing more extensive damage [below the dam], the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board reduced outflows from Lake Ontario in accordance with Plan 2014.

What is Plan 2014 and what does it have to do with water levels on the St. Lawrence River?

When the Moses-Saunders Dam was built in the 1950’s it meant the St. Lawrence River no longer ran wild and a plan for managing its levels and flows had to be developed. That plan – Plan 1958DD – in operation for over 50 years, led to the loss of 64,000 acres of wetlands, the destruction of critical habitat and the decimation of key species like Black Tern and Northern Pike. In the 90’s it became clear a new plan was needed to stop the slow death of the River.

A new plan – Plan 2014 – was implemented just this past January after years of study, community input and review by the governments of Canada and the United States. It is intended to set water levels more in tune with the natural conditions.

By allowing for a more natural cycle of high and occasional low water, Plan 2014 will improve the overall health of the River and restore critical wetland habitat and species, and provide greater economic opportunities for the River region’s tourism-based economy. This Spring’s water levels are on track with Plan 2014 and should begin to have positive results.

What will Plan 2014 mean for water levels in the future?

Water levels have and will always fluctuate. It is important to understand that while we on the River tend to like our water levels to be on the higher side, the health of the St. Lawrence depends on having a variety of levels including some infrequent low levels. In a very few years, likely 6 or fewer years per century, levels will drop below the long-term average when water supplies to the River are naturally lower. These occasional low levels are essential to the health of the fish, the wildlife and the wetlands of the St. Lawrence River.

Will Plan 2014 mean a longer boating season?

Most of the time yes, but not always. Overall, it’s clear that Plan 2014 will extend the boating season. Over the last hundred years, the boating season under Plan 2014 would have been 23 weeks or longer in 51 out of every 100 years.

Click here for more information on Plan 2014

Click here for more news from the International St. Lawrence River Board of Control

Please consider becoming a member of Save The River to support our education programs and advocacy for a healthy St. Lawrence River – www.donate.savetheriver.org

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Seriously?! NO Great Lakes Restoration funding, ZERO!

March 16th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

Seriously?! NO Great Lakes Restoration funding, ZERO!

Page 42 of President’s budget plan released today “Eliminates funding for…Great Lakes Restoration Initiative”. This program has received bipartisan support in every budget since its inception in 2010. Over $130,000,000 has come to New York State to improve wetlands, fish habitat, invasive species detection and prevention, pollution abatement and other important projects that have created direct and indirect jobs, improving our environment and our economy. Over $6.4 million has been spent directly in the St. Lawrence River watershed.

Zero it out? Seriously. Decidedly. Outrageous!

It is just one part of the budget’s assault on programs that protect the water we depend on for our world-class fisheries, to sustain our recreation and tourism based economy, AND to drink!

Among many other programs cut or zeroed out is a Department of Agriculture program that assists communities with fewer than 10,000 people with water and sewer infrastructure.

It’s hard to imagine describing the St. Lawrence River as “great” if the water is no longer swimmable, fishable, or drinkable.

The President’s budget plan is chock full of disappointments for anyone who has benefitted from the last half century of progress the United States has made in air and water quality and human health.

Common sense tells us we have more to do to make sure every American has access to clean air and water, both basic human rights.

Instead for Save The River / Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and our members and supporters, this budget is nothing less than a full on assault on the health of one of North America’s most important waterways and the people and communities that depend on it being and staying healthy.

Call the Congressional switchboard, (202) 224-3121, to connect with your Senators & Representative with the simple message “I support clean water programs – GLRI, revolving loan funds, & EPA”. Then call White House with same message (202) 456-1414 or (202) 456-1111.

Please also consider becoming a member of Save The River to strengthen our ability to fight for a healthy St. Lawrence River, now and for generations to come. Add your voice to thousands of others working to preserve, protect and restore one of the great rivers in North America.

#WePersist

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Plan 2014 is the Right Plan for the St. Lawrence River

February 21st, 2017 | Posted by Lee

January 7th was a red-letter day for the St. Lawrence River.

It was the day Plan 2014 – the modern water levels plan Save The River has advocated for since the 1990’s – went into effect.

Unfortunately, even before it was unanimously approved by the International Joint Commission, a few elected officials and self-appointed spokespersons from the south shore of Lake Ontario began using “alternative facts” to block its approval and now its operation.

Their plan? Is no plan at all – They would keep in place the outdated regulatory scheme that has destroyed critical wetland habitat, decimated key species like Northern Pike and Black Term, and choked economic development up and down the River for the past 50 years.

Their efforts continue – and they are wrong on every point.

ECONOMIC AND SHORELINE BENEFITS

Their claim? The new plan “will set the stage for very large man-made disasters . . . [and] the real numbers [of damages] will be in the hundreds of millions [of dollars] . . . that could destroy the economies of six counties” (note 1)

Box 2b

PUBLIC SUPPORT AND INPUT

Their claim? “The approval of this plan was a midnight action(note 2) and it “was a last-minute mid-night approval by U.S. and Canadian officials having no understanding of [its] ramifications.” (note 3)

THE BOTTOM LINE

Their claim? “[A] recent decision by the International Joint Commission on Lake Levels [sic] to increase the maximum lake level by another two feet.” (note 4)

 


Notes:
    1.  January 30, 2017 letter from the Lake Ontario Riparian Alliance (LORA) to President Trump
    2.  January 17, 2017 letter from Reps. Collins and Katko to then Vice President-elect Pence
    3.  January 30, 2017 LORA letter to President Trump
    4.  Letter to the editor from NYS Assemblyman Peter Lawrence published in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle April 30, 2016

 

Save The River and the standing heron are registered trademarks. Riverkeeper is a registered trademark of the Waterkeeper® Alliance

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What we are about to lose

February 20th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

It begins; What we are about to lose

Just confirmed Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott “Pruitt told the Wall Street Journal on Friday that he expects to quickly withdraw both the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States Rule, the Obama administration’s attempt at clarifying the EPA’s regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act.”

from an article by Natasha Geiling, in ThinkProgress


Graphic from the EPA website (for now): https://www.epa.gov/cleanwaterrule

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Agenda Set for Save The River’s 28th Winter Environmental Conference

February 2nd, 2017 | Posted by Lee

Saturday, February 4, attendees of this annual conference focused on the health of the St. Lawrence River will hear from an influential and diverse group of speakers.

Click here for the agenda for the day.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, whose district covers the entire length of the St. Lawrence River in the U.S., will speak on the strides made to protect the River Community and the important work done on issues ranging from Plan 2014 to combating invasive species.

Frank Bevacqua, Public Information Officer with the International Joint Commission, will talk about the differences in water levels on the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario under Plan 2014, and what it means for boaters, shoreline residents and the natural environment.

Rob Caldwell, Canadian Regulation Representative with the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board, will cover how the new plan compares to the one it replaced and potential impacts and benefits.

Lawrence Gunther, North America’s only blind professional angler and founder of Blue Fish Canada. Lawrence will talk about his experiences making the documentary “What Lies Below” for which he crossed Canada and spoke to sport and commercial fishermen and women about the challenges facing Canada’s wild fish stocks.

The St. Lawrence River Institute’s Mesha Boyer will present the film “A Great River Runs Through Us” which documents their extremely successful citizens’ River cleanup efforts in the Cornwall area this past summer.

Wrapping up the conference will be the First Lego League Team: Heritage Hi-Techs whose “Animal Allies” themed robotics competition entry was based on knowledge gained from Save The River and others about the need for responsible stewardship of the River’s threatened Muskellunge population.

Registration for this year’s Conference closes tomorrow Friday, February 3rd. To secure a place, it is best call the Save The River office at (315) 686-2010.

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Congresswoman Elise Stefanik to Speak at Winter Conference

January 30th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

Rep. Elise Stefanik, whose district covers the entire length of the St. Lawrence River in the U.S., will speak at our 28th Winter Environmental Conference.

Her talk, “Working Together for Real Results for Our River Community”, is particularly timely as the new water levels plan for the River and Lake Ontario – Plan 2014 – for which Congresswoman Stefanik was a vocal supporter, has just gone into effect after an almost two decades long effort.

Ms. Stefanik, who spoke at last year’s conference, has worked with conservation and environmental organizations, like Save The River, on a broad range of issues of importance to preserving and protecting the vast and unique natural resources within the 21st Congressional District.

We are pleased to have her return.

Registration for the conference closes Friday, February 3.
Click here to download your registration form: http://ow.ly/zo3r308q3QM

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Northern New York Business Magazine Interviews Riverkeeper / Executive Director

January 18th, 2017 | Posted by admin

“It was great to have the opportunity to talk about the tremendous success the River community had on the new water levels plan, Plan 2014, and the importance of the work we do to preserve, protect and restore the St. Lawrence River.”

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Interested in Plan 2014?

January 13th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

Plan 2014 went into operation on January 7. And we are all interested and eager to know more about the new plan.

Frank Bevacqua, Public Information Officer International Joint Commission, will present “Plan 2014 – The Long-Term Perspective

It was a long journey, but Plan 2014 is a historic achievement. Managing water levels to improve ecosystem health has never been carried out on such a large scale. Frank will talk about the road to Plan 2014 and what it means for the future.

Frank and Rob Caldwell, also from the IJC (Canada), will cover different aspects of the new plan in their presentations to give attendees a comprehensive view of the plan.

Frank grew up in Chicago on the shore of Lake Michigan. He has been worked at the International Joint Commission to engage people in issues related to the waters shared by Canada and the United States since 1978. Whenever possible, he enjoys canoeing and kayaking.

So join us, your friends – old & new at Clayton’s 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel to celebrate and learn about the River we love.

Schedule:  Saturday, February 4, 2017

9:30am  – Registration and morning coffee

10:00 am – 4:00pm Presentations

4:00 pm – Cocktail Reception with cash bar

Additional details and updates will be posted here & on our Facebook events page

Conference fee: $50 (includes coffee, lunch, & cocktail reception with light hors d’oeuvres)

RSVP no later than Friday, January 27, 2017 to Save The River using the form found here or by calling us at (315) 686-2010.

We’ll see you there!

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TODAY! January 7, 2017 – River Music!

January 7th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

TODAY! January 7, 2017! Music to the ears of the St. Lawrence River communities who have worked and waited for it for so long.

From the weekly update of the International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board / Conseil international du lac Ontario et du fleuve Saint-Laurent,

“As mentioned in the IJC’s media release of 8 December 2016, Plan 2014 will be implemented effective Saturday, 7 January 2017.

Comme noté dans le communiqué du CMI du 8 décembre 2016, Plan 2014 sera en vigueur le samedi 7 janvier 2017.

We commend the IJC, and the U.S. and Canadian governments and are proud of the role Save The River, its members, followers and partners, played in seeing Plan 2014 enacted. More here.

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You’ll want to be at our Winter Environmental Conference for this presentation

January 4th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

Plan 2014 is officially on the agenda for the conference!

Rob Caldwell, Canadian Regulation Representative to the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board, will be presenting at the conference on: “Regulation of Lake Ontario Outflows with Plan 2014”

He knows the subject well. In 1999, Rob joined the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence Regulation Office of Environment and Climate Change Canada inCornwall, Ontario as a Water Resources Engineer, and has been the Manager since 2013. Rob is Canadian Regulation Representative, International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence Board, and Canadian Secretary, International Lake Superior Board of Control. He participated in the Hydrology & Hydraulics Technical Working Group during the Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence Study and worked on the transition to Plan 2014.

If you have questions, Rob will have answers. His presentation will cover the new Supplementary Order issued by the IJC December 8, 2016, adopting Plan 2014 effective January 7, 2017. He will compare this long-anticipated new regulatory regime to the former one. Differences, including potential benefits and impacts, will be also discussed.

So join us, your friends – old & new at Clayton’s 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel to celebrate and learn about the River we love.

Schedule:  Saturday, February 4, 2017

9:30am  – Registration and morning coffee

10:00 am – 4:00pm Presentations

4:00 pm – Cocktail Reception with cash bar

Additional details and updates will be posted here & on our Facebook events page

Conference fee: $50 (includes coffee, lunch, & cocktail reception with light hors d’oeuvres)

RSVP no later than Friday, January 27, 2017 to Save The River using the form found here or by calling us at (315) 686-2010.

We’ll see you there!

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