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High Water Level Cause? Answer from South Shore

April 29th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

A week ago we posted, “Nature plays the biggest role in water levels in the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system,” disputing the unfounded, but frequently made claim that the new water management plan – Plan 2014 – is to blame. Yesterday in a lengthy, well-sourced and comprehensive article the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle agreed.

The entire article, “High water on Lake Ontario: Who’s to blame?” by Steve Orr and Meaghan M. McDermott, is a must read. It puts to bed two questions that have been burning up the press, the airwaves and the inboxes of elected officials (and Save The River) for weeks.

to quote the article:

Who or what is really to blame for the high water?

This spring’s high water is an act of God. It is the consequence of heavy rainfall in March and especially in early April, when the amount of water entering Lake Ontario set a record. Similar high water has afflicted the St. Lawrence River, which carries the flow from Lake Ontario to the Atlantic Ocean.”

“So Plan 2014 is to blame then?

All the experts have disavowed any connection between high water and the regulations.”

and, from a longtime and vocal critic of Plan 2014 (as the article points out) Frank Sciremammano, “Under either the old plan or the new plan, we would be where we are now.”

As Sciremammano says, “it depends on the weather“. Therefore it is incumbent on us to leave Plan 2014 in place, balancing the many shared interests and uses of the Lake and the River, and use our resources, our ingenuity and our collective political will to realistically deal with the situation and to make certain that what we build in the future takes into account the dominant role of Nature and the reality of these dynamic water bodies and shorelines.

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St. Lawrence River Water Levels – Is Plan 2014 to Blame?

April 22nd, 2017 | Posted by Lee

St. Lawrence River Water Levels – Is Plan 2014 to Blame?

The St. Lawrence River is running high -about 18” higher than the average for this time of year. So is Lake Ontario. And, so are the passions of shoreline property owners impacted by the high levels, local elected officials and some journalists.

Anger, frustration and a demand for answers about why it is happening, how can it be stopped and what will prevent it from happening in the future are understandable reactions to homes and property being threatened.

Unfortunately, in the case of this Spring’s high water the blame is being misplaced and the solution being sought is no solution at all.

Is the new water management plan – Plan 2014 – the reason the water is high?

No – the Lake and River would be at similar levels whether Plan 2014 was implemented or not.

Is Plan 2014 the reason water isn’t being let through the dam to lower the Lake and River?

No – the Board of Control is doing all they can to fairly balance and minimize flooding on both Lake Ontario and on the River at Lake St. Louis (at Montreal). They have made numerous flow adjustments in recent days to keep this balance. Adding to the challenge is the fact that Ottawa River outflows have recently been at record high values.

Why are water levels higher than in previous years?

It is important to remember that neither the River or the Lake are isolated bodies of water, they are part of a large, complex system. A system that holds 40% of North America’s freshwater.

Nature plays the biggest role in water levels in the Lake Ontario- St. Lawrence River system. The River is fed by the outflow from Lakes Ontario and Erie, snowfall, and rainfall and runoff. And at times its outflow must be controlled due to conditions on the lower river below the Moses-Saunders Dam.

It is also important to remember that there have been several periods of higher water in the past under the previous plan – Plan 1958DD.

The water in the St Lawrence is higher than last year because the supply of water flowing into it has been greater. And the water it has received has had to be held back at times because the river below the dam has experienced flooding and evacuations.

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

“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.” [1]

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.

Even if Plan 2014 isn’t responsible for this year’s high water, why was a new plan needed?

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.

The new plan – Plan 2014 – was implemented this past January after years of study, input from communities and individuals all around the Lake and River, 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, 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.

Click here for more information on Plan 2014

Click here for a video on how the Moses-Saunders dam influences water levels

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

 

[1] http://ijc.org/greatlakesconnection/en/2017/04/lake-ontario-st-lawrence-river-levels-rise-following-april-rains/

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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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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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Join Us! Save The River’s 28th Winter Environmental Conference

January 2nd, 2017 | Posted by Lee

It’s here – a new year, ice, lake effect snow, and . . .

Save The River’s Winter Environmental Conference.

Attendees at our 28th annual conference, Saturday, February 4th, will hear presentations on the state of the fishery, policy changes in the U.S. and Canada that may impact the health of the River, local projects affecting the River and more. AND, of course, Plan 2014.

In addition to information sharing, the Conference is an excellent mid-winter opportunity to gather and renew the ties and fellowship that bind us together in the common cause we share – protecting the St. Lawrence River now and for generations to come.

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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Success! Plan 2014 Enacted!

December 9th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

Success!

After almost 20 years of effort the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario have a new, modern water levels plan.

success-plan-2014-enacted-square-1Today the International Joint Commission announced that Plan 2014 will be implemented, returning more natural levels and flows to the River.

Replacing the current, more than 50-year-old plan, will begin the restoration of critical wetland habitat. The tourism economy of the River communities, dependent as it is on a healthy River ecosystem, will also see significant benefits.

Save The River has advocated for a modern water levels plan for the River for decades and we continued our efforts with others this year following American River’s designation of the St. Lawrence as one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers. But the announcement today could not have happened without our members and followers, the thousands of individuals who love the Lake and River and the other conservation, environmental and sportsmen organizations, businesses, governments, and elected officials who have demanded real change and action.

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.

plan-2014-appealThe benefits of Plan 2014 include: a 40% increase in wet meadow acreage; a 39% rebound in populations of Northern Pike, the top fish predator in coastal marshes; a 16% rebound in Black Tern populations, a state listed endangered species; a $9.1 million annual increase in recreational activity along the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario; a frequently longer recreational boating season; and will continue over 50 years of significant shoreline protection.

Save The River is committed to seeing that the improvements in River health envisioned in Plan 2014 are realized. And while the new plan is a significant step to restoring the River, it is just a piece of our mission to preserve, protect and restore the St. Lawrence River to ensure it is passed on undiminished for future generations to share; providing safe drinking water, is a home to a thriving range of indigenous species and supporting sustainable economic activity.

Click here for our press release on the enactment of Plan 2014.

Click here for links to Plan 2014 support efforts in 2016.

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Tremendous video from the IJC summarizing the need for and benefits of Plan 2014

December 6th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

For the first time in over 50 years, we have a unique and rare opportunity to reduce the ecological impacts of unnatural water levels management on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Plan 2014, if implemented, will allow for more natural variability in water levels, set a positive precedent for deliberations on the Upper Great Lakes water levels regulation, and set the stage for the restoration of 64,000 acres of coastal wetlands – easily the largest single example of Great Lakes restoration to date.

Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River enhance the quality of life for all citizens who live, work and recreate in the coastal zones of the Lake and River. Since 2001, the IJC has worked with governments and stakeholders in New York, Ontario and Quebec to develop a new set of procedures for regulating the flow of water through dams in the St. Lawrence. This plan will “contribute to the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence system” (the IJC’s previously stated goal for a new regulation plan).

The benefits of Plan 2014 are not limited to the environment – recreational boating, hunting, fishing, increased coastal wetland resilience in the face of climate change, and cost-effective shipping all are strengthened under this new approach to regulation. Plan 2014 continues to provide considerable protection for coastal property as well.

It truly is time for #Plan2014Now.

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Another Anniversary of the Clean Water Act; And Still No New Water Levels Plan!

October 18th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

For over 50 years the St. Lawrence River has suffered under a destructive water levels management plan. On this 44th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, almost 20 years after the destruction of over 64,000 acres of wetlands habitat and the precipitous decline of species dependent on those wetlands was identified and more than 2 years after a plan to begin the restoration of those wetlands was referred to them by Most Endangeredthe International Joint Commission, the U.S. and Canadian federal governments still have not acted, and the St. Lawrence remains one of America’s most endangered rivers.

This is not right!

In June following American Rivers designating the St. Lawrence as one of America’s 10 most endangered rivers, we wrote about it on their website. At that point we and a broad coalition of groups and individuals supporting a modern plan for managing the River – Plan 2014 – had collected over 22,000 expressions of support for the plan. Now we have over 36,000.

Now is the time for our federal governments to act. Now before we reach any more anniversaries. Now before we lose any more wetlands and the species dependent on them.

It is time for #Plan2014Now!

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Executive Director interviewed for Public Television on Water Levels

October 9th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

Taking every opportunity to make the case for our two federal governments to lift their pens and concur with the International Joint Commission’s Plan 2014 and begin restoring wetlands, Northern Pike, Black Tern and so much more to Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Riverkeeper and Save The River executive director speaking to tvo’s The Agenda, Nam Kiwanuka, for broadcast on Detroit Public Television while at the Great Lakes Public Forum in Toronto.

It’s time for #Plan2014Now.

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