Plan 2014 shifts damage to south shore of Lake Ontario
As a former member of the Lake Ontario St. Lawrence River Study, I would like to take this opportunity to address a letter to the editor written by Andrew Remley (January 29, 2018) who took to task the new chairperson of the Orleans County Legislature, Lynne Johnson. Lynne along with NORA (Niagara-Orleans Regional Alliance) has been fighting Plan 2014 since 2012
Plan 2014 was not one of the plans produced by the six-year St. Lawrence River Study but by a closed-door panel that included hydropower, commercial and environmental entities.
There was no representation by riparians or recreational boating. Ms. Johnson understands that Plan 2014 will have a devastating effect on the south shore of the lake. Plan 2014 moves damages that would have occurred in the lower St. Lawrence River to the south shore.
Plan 2014, if it is to be considered a product of the Study does not meet three of the Study’s criteria. First, “there shall not be any disproportionate loss to any interest.” Plan 2014 shifts most of the damages to the south shore.
Second, “If there is going to be damages, then mitigation of these damages must be in plan before implementation of any plan” and lastly, “the plan development shall be transparent.”
Plan 2014 took away the Control Board’s ability to deviate from plan until a “trigger” was reached. These triggers are set at extreme levels that cause increased damages. Additionally, the old plan 58DD had a criterion (Criterion K) which was an emergency criterion that allowed the board to over discharge to protect properties. Plan 2014 does not have a similar provision except the “triggers” which are set too high.
Plan 2014 will not allow for lower lake levels over time. The IJC even admits that there will be an increase in levels. If Dr. Wilcox said otherwise, he is mistaken. There is over a 300 percent increase in probability of levels in the spring months of March-May above 247 feet.
What he may have been referring to is during times of low supply, the midsummer high peak will be lower for a couple years. This midsummer level would be close to levels seen at the end of November, which will only lead to economic distress for recreational boating and the local fishing industry that Orleans and Niagara counties enjoy. The harbors in Niagara and Orleans counties, particularly at Wilson, will be adversely affects.
This last spring, we acknowledge that there was a tremendous amount of precipitation, however, Plan 2014 has limits built into it that minimizes damage to the lower river which allowed water to build on the lake last spring and which may occur again this year when the Ottawa river has its two freshets in April.
Dr. Daniel Barletta
Lake Ontario Riparian Alliance
Formerly Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence Study Board member