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Environmental group asks for "patterned" shipping on the St. Lawrence River

Payne Horning
WRVO News (file photo)

An environmental organization in Clayton is asking to temporarily suspend shipping on the St. Lawrence River.

In a letter to the International Joint Commission, the conservation group Save the River said it wants a shipping suspended several days a week this summer to allow more water to go through the Moses Saunders dam near Massena.

"What we are asking them is to consider the riparians. The people on the islands, people on the shores, the businesses on both sides of the river and both sides of the lake," said John Peach, executive director at Save the River.

Peach says water in the St. Lawrence River is still too high, and shorelines businesses and homes are still flooded. But raising outflows beyond their current level means shipping could become unsafe, because of fast currents.

Save the River Executive Director John Peach, far right, during a meeting with the International Joint Commission last month.

Shippers say suspending maritime commerce would cost $50 million a day. Peach says he understands the economic impact shipping has, but the burden of high water should be shared by everyone on the river.

"We don’t want to hurt the shipping industry either, but we don’t want ourselves up here in the river to continue to be hurt. I think it’s up to the Seaway or the shipping industry to come up with a program that would work efficiently for them and would allow the IJC to get more water out," Peach said.

Peach says the IJC has acknowledged their letter but has not indicated it plans to implement any changes. The group has not heard back from the St. Lawrence Seaway.