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CCE IN THE NEWS

Source: WXXI News

Reaction Still Coming In To New Lake Level Plan

BY RANDY GORBMAN

Posted: June 20, 2014
Originally Published: June 18, 2014

Now that the U.S./Canadian agency that oversees water levels on Lake Ontario has come out with its regulatory plan, supporters and detractors are staking out their positions.

The International Joint Commission announced a plan on Tuesday that it says provides more natural fluctuations in the lake level, and one which it says will help both the ecology of the lake as well as serve economic interests.

But the Greece Town board has passed a resolution opposing the plan. Town Supervisor Bill Reilich says the plan as it stands now could cause a lot of damage to houses along the lake in his town.

"Even though it doesn't greatly increase the lake level, it elongates the period of which it is the high level. Rather than just be there a few weeks, it's there a few months. And with the most recent weather patterns, we've found that we've had extreme weather, so with the higher lake level remaining there longer, to have a serious storm could cause quite a bit of damage."

Jim Howe is the executive director of the Nature Conservancy in Western and Central New York, and he feels the IJC recommendations represent a good compromise.

"It's not what I think everyone in the environmental community wants either, it's not what shoreline property owners want, no one's getting everything they want here, this is really a compromise designed to really find some balance in how we manage the waters of Lake Ontario."

Howe says the environment of Lake Ontario has been severely compromised in recent years because past regulations have made it difficult for wetlands and other natural systems to flourish.

The Nature Conservancy and some other environmental organizations including Audubon New York, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Save the River and Ducks Unlimited support the new plan as a way of restoring the plant and animal diversity of coastal wetlands along the Lake Ontario shoreline.

Reilich says Greece will ask local federal representatives to push for changes in the commission's plan