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More on IJC action to balance lake levels along the US Canadian border:

The International Joint Commission has already ordered companies operating dams on Rainy Lake and nearby Namakan Lake to increase outflow from the lakes to increase their capacity.

While the IJC is concerned about the deep snow pack this year — and the amount of water it contains — spokesperson Matthew DeWolfe said the main consideration will be how much rain falls in the coming weeks.

“If it all happens at once, obviously there’s much more water than can be handled by the dam operations and the lake goes up much more quickly than would be preferred,” said the Canadian engineering adviser to the International Joint Commission’s International Rainy – Lake Of The Woods Watershed Board.

“The most important factor in determining what the peak levels will be in the spring and heading into early summer is not the snow pack, historically. It’s the amount of rainfall that comes.”

The good news is that the shorter-term forecast does not indicate much precipitation, however “the snow pack is really significant this year,” DeWolfe continued. “It’s much higher than it’s been for many, many years, and there’s a lot of water content there.”

Adjusting water levels in lakes is a balancing act, as releasing too much water at this point could mean those lake levels won’t get back to normal by summer.

The two power companies affected by the recent orders are H20 Power on the Canadian side of the lakes, and Boise Inc. on the American side.


Moses Saunders dam

Direct from the IJC: “Last updated more than 50 years ago, the plan for managing flow operations at the Moses Saunders dam at Cornwall, Ontario and Massena, NY has provided flood control benefits for upstream and downstream communities, more stable water levels for shipping, recreational boating and drinking water intakes, and dependable flows for hydropower production. However, the flow manangement practices have also degraded the environment of Lake Ontario and the Upper St. Lawrence River.

The International Joint Commission’s (IJC) proposal will restore more natural patterns of water-level fluctuation and improve conditions in wetlands and aquatic habitat for fish, birds and other animals in the coastal and nearshore zones of the lake and upper river. It will also continue to manage levels for shoreline communities and other interests on Lake Ontario by reducing the occurrence of high and low water levels to nearly the same degree as the 1950s plan. The proposal will provide for a small increase in the generation of clean hydroelectric power and maintains the current benefits for downstream communities and economic activities in Quebec. The proposal includes an adaptive management strategy which will be implemented over time to provide systematic monitoring and performance assessment, and help communities adapt to changing conditions.

The Lake Ontario –St. Lawrence River proposal for regulation includes five elementsis that are described in detail in accompanying pages: Order Criteria and Conditions; Regulation Plan; Deviations Directive; Board Directive; and Adaptive Management. 

The International Joint Commission may further revise the proposal, including the new regulation plan, based on comments received during the public review process, and will then seek the concurrence of the federal governments of Canada and the United States prior to implementation.”

Controversy continues between stakeholders. Go to IJC WEBSITE to down load Plan 2014.


Environmental groups push bi-national commission to advance lake levels plan | News Blog

The coalition pushing binational commission, IJC, to recommend Bv7 plan to control lake levels on Great Lakes esp. Lake Ontario and The St Lawrence Seaway includes Citizens Campaign for the Environment, the Nature Conservancy, Audubon New York, and Save the River. Lake Ontario shoreline property owners oppose the plan. http://m.rochestercitynewspaper.com/rochester/blogs/Post?basename=environmental-groups-push-bi-national-commission-to-advance-lake-levels-plan&day=16&id=NewsBlog&month=04&year=2013

Watertown Daily Times | Environmentalists urge Gov. Cuomo to support IJC’s Bv7 water management proposal

This is an excerpt from Watertown Daily. With so many stakeholders supporting Plan Bv7, it may do better yo replace old management plan. Read on: “In a joint letter to Gov. Cuomo, four conservation groups — Save the River, Clayton; the Nature Conservancy; Audubon New York, and Citizens Campaign for the Environment — asked the governor to support Plan Bv7, a water regulation proposal by the International Joint Commission that could replace the existing half-century-old management plan. “Expressions of support for Plan Bv7 from Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River community have more than quadrupled since July 2012,” they said. “Much of the new support for Plan Bv7 came from the south shore of Lake Ontario.” So far, the groups gathered a total of 9,170 letters and petition signatures supporting Bv7 — an additional 7,000 “expressions” since July. The lake’s south shore has been where most of the complaints have been coming from because of the increased the risk of erosion under Bv7. At a panel discussion on the topic Saturday in Clayton, Sodus Point Mayor Christopher Tertinek argued that higher water levels allowed under Bv7 would flood waterfront properties and cause the village’s sewer infrastructure to fail. In an economic impact study, IJC estimated an additional $3 million per year in shore protection cost to coastal residents under the new management plan. But advocates argue that Bv7 is a balanced plan that finally takes into consideration environmental and recreational boating interests neglected under the original management plan. “Plan Bv7 will replace over 50 years of water level management that has significantly altered the Lake and River’s natural processes and dramatically reduced habitat diversity,” environmental advocates said in their letter to Gov. Cuomo. “Plan Bv7 will achieve these benefits through a return to more natural flows. It will provide a longer recreational boating season by avoiding the rapid draw down of the Lake and River in the fall, increase warm-water recreational fishing opportunities, increase hydropower production and lead to conditions that rebuild beaches naturally, all while continuing to provide significant protection to shoreline property owners.” http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20130416/NEWS03/704169884