Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell (D-Theresa) is calling on the International Joint Commission (IJC), the bi-national commission charged with managing the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes, to take immediate action to provide for workable water levels in the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario.
“Currently, water levels at Ogdensburg and Alexandria Bay are at least, and in many cases more than 21 inches lower than previous years’ levels,” Assemblywoman Russell said. “There is a growing likelihood of fairly low water levels this summer, and these below average levels are already negatively impacting local businesses.”
With boating and tourism season closely approaching and well below average water levels prevalent, Assemblywoman Russell is requesting their plan for immediate action to ensure upstream river communities have sufficient water levels to enable and support safe boating activities through the summer months.
Assemblywoman Russell also urged the IJC to implement plan B+, which will restore water levels to more natural conditions while reducing costal flooding, create a better environment for river and lake wildlife and still achieve an economic benefit over the current plan.
The last water level management plan was implemented in 1958 (Plan 1958-D). Since then, many issues effecting the river and lakes have changed and a 5 year, $20 million study was commissioned to study the effects of implementing a new plan. From this study, three plans were proposed yet none were implemented even though a September 17th 2007 deadline for implementation has come and gone.
“Numerous businesses, local residents, tourists, sportsman, boating enthusiasts, and outdoor enthusiasts throughout Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties rely on the river for work or recreation,” Assemblywoman Russell said. “I cannot stress enough the importance of a navigable river and lake to the every day lives and economic stability of our region.”