The International St. Lawrence River Board of Control hosted its semi-annual public meeting and teleconference on Sept. 24 at the State University of New York in Oswego, N.Y., and concurrently at the Confederation Hotel in Kingston, Ontario.
In addition to the face-to-face meetings, a webinar-teleconference format was used to widen public outreach. More than 30 people participated, including members of the public, government officials, IJC Commissioner Dereth Glance, several Board members, IJC and Board staff, and associates.
The Board's Canadian Chair, Philippe Morel, briefly presented information describing the IJC, the Board, recent water supplies, recent and forecast water levels, and the Board’s current regulation strategy.
After the presentation, the meeting was opened for public comment, questions, and concerns, presided over by Chairman Morel. The slide presentation shown during the webinar was made available online to callers beforehand on the Board's website, and callers were able to interact with the chairman and other participants during the event.
Kingston City Hall. Credit: Tourism Kingston.
One attendee wished to know why Lake Michigan-Huron has remained lower than average for such a long time. It was explained that the lows were the result of lower-than-average precipitation and higher evaporation over a number of years.
Another attendee wished to know how much the Board’s discretionary deviations could be used to lower Lake Ontario in a week. It was noted that this depends on the difference between inflows and outflows, but that it would typically be on the order of 1-2 inches. Higher flows can have an adverse impact on navigation and downstream levels.
Paul Yu, alternate U.S. regulation representative, explained that under Criterion (k) in the 1990s, the maximum amount of water released in a week was the equivalent of about 1 foot of water. However, the lake did not drop by 1 foot, as there was water coming in from Lake Erie and the local basin.
Several attendees inquired about whether and when a decision would be made by the IJC to implement a new Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence regulation plan, and expressed concern about the potential impact the proposed plan might have on coastal damages. Commissioner Glance briefly addressed the question and directed attendees and listeners to the IJC web site for further details and updates. From June through August, the IJC invited public comment on an improved plan for managing water levels and flows in the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River basin. The proposal is to be discussed at an upcoming IJC meeting.
Attendees in Oswego, N.Y., stayed for more than an hour after the teleconference to continue discussing their concerns relating to the proposed plan as well as the current plan. A man and woman from Sodus Bay, N.Y., said they attended the meeting and represented about 30 homeowners. Most of those are summer residents, and many have permanent homes outside of the area. The man and woman said that they had only recently become aware of the public comment period for the proposed new plan. Commissioner Glance listened to their concerns after the meeting. Public and technical hearings on the proposal were well-attended and the IJC is now considering comments that were submitted.
The International St. Lawrence River Board launched a new website in the summer. You can sign up to receive weekly electronic updates on water levels and flows, and explore content including information on Board members and responsibilities, as well as progress reports to the IJC, meeting minutes, data, and media releases.
The date of the Board’s next meeting with the public is tentatively scheduled for March 18, 2014.