Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

July 21, 2013

WOLCOTT: Can IJC bring peace along lake?

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — I never heard of the International Joint Commission until I was a political science major 49 years ago. The United States and Canada, who share the largest unguarded border in the world, set representatives to work out border issues in 1909. Commissioners are in both countries. It seemed like a good idea. 

Apparently it’s been working, but I didn’t hear from the IJC until about five years ago when they presented another water-level plan for Lake Ontario. It seems they’ve been trying to put together a plan that will satisfy everyone for 13 years.

Maybe it can’t be done. The IJC has come up with several plans, but opponents claim that it’s much the same, with a different name. Plan 2014 is much like the old 58B.

”It’s complicated,” said public relations officer Frank Bevacqua. 

It’s more complicated than the Peace Bridge. The IJC gave the go-ahead for a new twin span in 1997. The bridge from Buffalo to Fort Erie appeared to have had a simple solution 16 years ago, but remains tangled today. (Of note, the IJC approved the current Peace Bridge in 1925 and the bridge was completed in 1927.)

Lake levels may not seem to be as important as the Peace Bridge, but it’s a vital issue for riparians. What’s that, you say, riparian? I never heard the word until it popped up in the Wilson Town Board resolution damning Plan 2014. By definition, a riparian zone is the interface between land and a river. By resolution, it’s the area along Lake Ontario where people have built their houses, raised their families, cared for their land and made their livelihood.

Folks along the southern shore have banked on the plan that was put in law more than 50 years ago. One has to feel for them, their counties and the taxpayers. Meanwhile, Canadians have better prepared and protected their northern shore. Applaud our neighbors’ foresight.

Who do you boo? Big business wants higher highs to float their boats and sell more electricity for more profits. It’s easy to boo big business. 

Conservationists want to protect the environment. Can’t blame them. Environment is where we live. So, the theory is, big business let’s the green people stand on the front line and take the hits from the five counties.

For my part, I give the IJC credit for hearing all parties and I trust the commissioners to do the best they can. In the meantime, Mother Nature will have her say any day she wants and she has the natural power. 

She’s been around since before 1909.

Contact reporter Bill Wolcott at 439-9222, ext. 6246.