Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Oct. 30 announcement of support for an early closure to this year’s shipping season is welcome news for riparians and businesses along the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. An early closure would allow the International Joint Commission to increase the outflow rates up to the maximum, releasing as much water as possible and lowering the water levels prior to freeze-up. With the Great Lakes still at or near record seasonal highs, all possible action should be taken now to lower the water before next spring.
Three times, Save the River has asked the shipping industry to shoulder its share of the burdens caused by the water levels. During times of flooding, it is not unusual for all businesses and stakeholders to lend their support to help those most severely affected recover from their losses.
The call to stop shipping by the governor’s office was made the day before he announced awarding $60 million of REDI grants to Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties for shoreline projects to make our infrastructure more resilient to the effects of high water. The award ceremony included references to climate change and the resulting record precipitation.
Whenever possible, we need to make sure that improvements to our shorelines are resilient and use natural solutions. Replacing older permanent docks with modern floating docks, planting natural grasses along beaches and dunes and developing plans to make sure our critical services are safely sited and protected are good examples of action we must take now to prepare for future high water years.
The writer is executive director of Save the River.