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Water Level Plan BV7 Will Damage Boaters, Property Owners And Marina Operators!
It Will Have Severe Impacts On The Lake, The Bays And The Ponds!

LEVELER    E-Newsletter  From The
ake Ontario Riparian Alliance
         Issue 2 Dec. 2011

Grassroots Public Advocacy For The Protection, Restoration And Conservation
Of Lake Ontario Beaches And Riparian Property

Must Read Notes From The 9/29/2011 IJC Meeting In Greece NY....Click Here

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The True Facts behind the IJC Fact Sheet

The purpose of this paper is to respond to and rebut the recently published IJC Fact Sheet on the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River and provide another view from the recipients of this proposed change.

In the 1950’s when the Moses-Saunders Dam and the St. Lawrence Seaway was initially proposed, the US and Canadian governments established a social contract with the shoreline property owners of Lake Ontario as a means to have the moneys appropriated for construction. This contract established that the levels of the lake would be controlled to reduce to the extent possible, flooding conditions that occurred earlier in the 1950’s. The 1956 Orders and Criteria, and later amended as 58D, were written to state this contract. [1]

Now after all these years the governments particularly NYS government has chosen not to honor this contract. Officials in the NYS government, who’s position of stature exist due to political patronage, want to devastate the Lake Ontario, affecting its shoreline property owners and recreational boat users. The rest of the system would see little or no negative effect. The major industries like hydropower and commercial navigation would experience tremendous benefits in the range of multi-million dollars per year.

The Fact Sheet states that the IJC Working Group composed of unelected and unaccountable people would reduce the benefits experienced by the shoreline by 12%. Though not stated in the fact sheet, at the meeting with shoreline property owners, they stated the reduction of benefits for Lake Ontario boaters would be in the order of 25%. Additionally, the fact sheet does not point out the actual dollar amount of damages. Using the IJC Working Group numbers, this 12% reduction equates to $3.36 million dollars of damages per year on average to the shoreline. Over the expected life of the new plan, 50 years, this equals $168 million dollars.

We have told the IJC that their estimate for shore protection is greatly undervalued in the order of 2-3 times. In reality, the shoreline of Lake Ontario can expect $6.7 to $10 million dollars in damages on average every year and have a total amount of damage over of the life of the plan of near $500 million!

With Recreational Boating, the damages are not at the same level but very significant. Using their numbers again, a 25% reduction in benefits equals damage in the order of $865 thousand per year on average with a total of $43 million over the expected 50 year operation of the new plan.

At the same time that these damages are occurring hydropower and commercial navigation will have a total benefit of approximately $411 million.

The fact sheet states that the proposed plan will improve the shoreline wetlands. However the plan does not take into account the narrow leaf cattail which is an invasive species in the basin. Higher water levels will only act to allow it to colonize upland areas of the wetlands driving out the native marsh plants.[2] Lower water levels are what are needed, however this will have an adverse effect on recreational boating, hydropower and commercial navigation.

LOSLR environmental studies primarily looked at wetlands and ignored or lightly treated other important habitats, especially shallow shoreline habitats. The more comprehensive estimates by Cornell researchers indicated that these habitats would be negatively impacted by Plan B and that Plan 58DD was the best approach overall for the environment moving forward. Plan 58DD tends to favor, birds, fish nesting and early survival, and wetlands. The water management plan that emerged from application experience in the last half century, plan 1958DD, appears to a good choice for maintaining most environmental resources and harming few.[3]

This report (Bain 2008) pointed out one clear inconsistency with preconceived plan performance was seen with Plan E and by direct extension Plan BV7. The IJC Working Group and IJC, itself, are pushing Plan BV7 because they believe it will create more natural lake fluctuations similar to Plan E’s computer simulation. Instead this plan will have the most often adverse impacts occurring on most of the sensitive shoreline classes and impacts to the largest portion of the lake coast. It appears this more natural water management plan would have broad adverse consequences for the lake environment. The belief that Plans E or BV7 are best for the environment rests on the thought that natural hydrologic variations provide the most natural condition. The expected changes under the plan may promote past environmental condition, but in the context for the current lake setting many of these changes would be considered adverse.[4]

The bottom line on this new plan, BV7, is even worse plan than the LOSL Plan B+ that was proposed in 2005. Plan B+ had damages both on the Lake and lower St. Lawrence River. The damages with BV7 occur for the most part only on Lake Ontario.



The figure above illustrates a number of important facts:

1. The average lake level post-regulation has been higher throughout the year than the average pre-project. The peak average occurs at a higher level earlier in the year.[6]

2. The Lake has had a higher average yearly fluctuation post-project (70 cm) than pre-project (60 cm).[7]

3. Water rise during the spring breeding is higher during post-project than pre-project[8]

4. The water range level over the entire water cycle range is only 12 cm (4.75”) less post-project than pre-project.[9]

5. The pre-project had lower lows than post project. This is reason for loss of meadow marsh.[10]


The above figure illustrates Lake Ontario average levels prior to construction of the Moses-Saunders Dam and St. Lawrence Seaway. (Ave 1900-1960) and the average levels post construction (Ave. 1961-2000). Readily discernable is that Lake Ontario averages have been higher and peaks earlier in the year than prior to construction.[11]

The figure below shows a number of important ideas:

The current regulation has reduced the number of episodes of water levels above 247.3 ft by 50%. This reduction was part of the social contract from the 1950’s to the Lake Ontario shoreline as part of Orders allowing the construction of the Moses-Saunders Dam and St. Lawrence Seaway

The current regulation plan has reduced the number of low water levels by approx. 80%. This has had negative effect on wetlands.[12] This lack of low water episodes can be attributed to the higher water supplies experienced in the system from the 70’s through the present time frame.


[2] Douglas A. Wilcox, et al., “Cattail Invasion of Sedge/Grass Meadows in Lake Ontario Photointerpretation Analysis of Sixteen Wetlands over Five Decades”, J, Great Lake Research 34:301-323
[3] Bain, Singkran, Mills, “Integrated Ecosystem Assessment: Lake Ontario Water Management”, PLoS ONE, Nov 2008, Vol. 3, Issue 11, e3806 page 11
[4] Ibid
[5] T˙s The˙sme˙er, “Environmental Consideration Lake Ontario Water Regulation as it pertains to the coastal marsh Cootes Paradise”, Royal Botanical Gardens, Burlington, Ontario
[6] Ibid
[7] Ibid
[8] Ibid
[9] Ibid
[10] Douglas A. Wilcox, et al., “Cattail Invasion of Sedge/Grass Meadows in Lake Ontario Photointerpretation Analysis of Sixteen Wetlands over Five Decades”, J, Great Lake Research 34:301-323
[11] LOSLR PAIG Year 1 public presentation PowerPoint
[12] Douglas A. Wilcox, et al., “Cattail Invasion of Sedge/Grass Meadows in Lake Ontario Photointerpretation Analysis of Sixteen Wetlands over Five Decades”, J, Great Lake Research 34:301-323

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