Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

July 13, 2013

Lake level plan panned

BY BILL WOLCOTT bill.wolcott@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The Battle of the Lake Ontario water levels resumes Sunday and Tuesday with the International Joint Commission conducting public and technical hearings.

The public is invited to participate in the 6 p.m. meeting Sunday at the Cornell Cooperative Extension, 4487 Lake Avenue in Lockport. An invitation-only technical hearing will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday at the Hyatt Regency in Rochester.

Niagara County Legislator David Godfrey, who will speak at both meetings, urges local stakeholders to arrive early for the 6 p.m. meeting Sunday at the co-op in order to have an opportunity to speak. Speakers will be heard on a first-come, first-served basis.

Godfrey opposes the latest IJC plan which he feels will cripple the local economy. The IJC plan will call for higher high water levels and lower lows, according to Godfrey. Water level could fluctuate four feet between high and low.

“Somebody (will) to suffer,” Godfrey said Wednesday. “It’s just plain lunacy.”

According to the legislator, high water will cause more erosion along the lake shore and devalue property. Low water will impact the harbors that are in desperate need of dredging. The harbors along the lake, including Wilson, could be closed during low water level periods.

Godfrey feels the IJC plan is being pushed by big business and environmental groups, and the commission is saying nothing to help people on the shore lines.

Environmentalists are concerned with the muskrat population and cattails. Big business is concerned with shipping lanes and electric power.

A clash could be expected with property owners and small boating and fishing operations on one side and environmentalists on the other. Big dollars are pushing from behind, Godfrey said.

He argues that the plan does not take into account a storm surge.

According to the IJC, it is proposing to manage water levels with fewer negative environment impacts on Lake Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence River.

Niagara County leaders met Wednesday morning at Wendle Engineering and planned a conference call with leaders along the coastline.

At 11 a.m. Tuesday, the Coastal Panel No. 2 will address the IJC with Godfrey serving as the lead. Other members of the panel are a representative from the Town of Greece; a professor from the College of Engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology and a representative from Monroe County.

Recreation & Tourism Panel will be represented by Bill Hilts, Outdoor Sports Specialist from the Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, who writes a weekly column for the Union-Sun.

The IJC is holding technical hearings to gather detailed input from a range of experts and other stakeholders. One person from the panel will make oral presentation of from 5-10 minutes in length.