CLAYTON — The leaders of the International Joint Commission will not suspend Plan 2014 in the near future, but will continue evaluating it.
U.S. Chairwoman Jane Corwin, Canadian Chairman Pierre Beland, and U.S. Commissioner Lance Yohe met with local government officials, business owners and environmentalists Friday during a roundtable hosted by Save the River. They discussed the plan, the most recent guidelines for water level management for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, widespread flooding, resiliency against future possible inundation and how to improve communications with the general public.
Both Ms. Corwin and Mr. Beland said no regulation plan, neither Plan 2014 nor the previous guidelines in Plan 1958-DD, could have prevented the record-breaking high water levels, which they attributed to excessive rainfall raising water levels across the Great Lakes basin. Ms. Corwin also said the plan’s measures only affect water levels by several inches, not multiple feet.
“Plan 2014, in terms of its development and in terms of it’s modeling, is a solid plan,” she said.
The commission regulates the shared uses of binational waterways between the U.S. and Canada, particularly projects like dams that can affect their height and flow. It also investigates transboundary issues and recommends solutions for them at the requests of both the U.S. and Canadian governments.
The commission adopted Plan 2014 in 2016 to return the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario to more natural flows and restore wetlands and wildlife populations. The plan took over 16 years and $20 million to develop
The commission oversees the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board, which manages outflows from Lake Ontario through the Robert Moses-Robert H. Saunders Power Dam in Massena and Cornwall, Ontario, under the guidelines established by Plan 2014, and appoints members to the board.
The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Adaptive Management Committee, a subgroup of the commission, reviews the effectiveness of the plan’s implementation. Ms. Corwin said its work helps determine whether Plan 2014 has yielded the desired results and if the commission needs to make adjustments to it.
“The challenge, though, right now, is we have to make sure it’s operating the way it’s supposed to operate, and is it doing everything we thought it would do,” she said. “Maybe we’re wrong. Maybe there are some aspects of the plan that need to be modified.”
The three commissioners on the U.S. and Canadian side also agreed with the need for improved resiliency, and said that, through research and evaluation, they hope the information they develop overtime can help.
“People are wounded, but let’s focus on how we can heal,” Mr. Beland said.