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IJC backs Plan 2014 to control Lake Ontario water levels

Ray Sawhillv
Boaters are expected to see longer seasons two out of every three years as part of Plan 2014.

The International Joint Commission says its recommendations to help restore some of the natural water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence Seaway will also benefit the lake's wetland wildlife. According to the commission, Plan 2014 will help Lake Ontario get closer to its natural ebb and flow throughout the year.

Commissioner Dereth Glance says Plan 2014 strikes a balance between the current plan and the lakes original water levels about 60 years ago.

Credit Leah Landry / WRVO
WRVO News File Photo
Lake Ontario

"No regulation plan can satisfy the needs of all of the interests all of the time," Glance said. "But what Plan 2014 does is work to balance and provide the most protection for all of the established interests and uses, while also recognizing the interests that were not considered in the 50s, which include the recreational boating community and the needs of the natural environment."

Commissioner Benoit Bouchard agreed, saying through an interpreter that Plan 2014 is much more encompassing than the plan that has been in use for more than 50 years.

"The concerns of all the stakeholders, whether it be seaway transporters, pleasure boaters, sewer and water services, what the commission has attempted to do after 15 years of study is to come up with a plan that provides a balance between all those elements and all those considerations," Bouchard said.

The IJC expects Plan 2014 to restore some wetland ecosystems that were hurt during the last 60 years, and bring back more animals like muskrats, birds and northern pike. The amount of hydropower generated by the Moses-Saunders dam and the Hydro-Quebec facilities on the St. Lawrence River will also slightly increase.

The IJC admits the plan does increase the price of maintaining shoreline protections by about 13 percent, though the costs are still lower than if Lake Ontario was left unregulated. Some communities along the shoreline also say the new plan will increase the chances of flooding and erosion.

The IJC's recommendations have been sent to the governments of Canada and the United States, which both have to agree to the plan. Officials with the IJC say there is currently no timetable to when the plan will be accepted and implemented, though they would like to begin as soon as possible.