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Canada Protesters blame new Great Lakes plan for Ottawa River, Lake Ontario floods

18:25  24 november  2019
18:25  24 november  2019 Source:   ottawacitizen.com

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Water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River urgently need to be lowered to avoid widespread flooding in 2020, a spirited band of shoreline citizens demanded Saturday. About 150 protesters gathered at the Laurier Avenue offices of the International Joint Commission

Programs. Lake Ontario Flooding . Preparation Efforts & Resources. 2019 Lake Ontario & St. Lawrence River Homeowner Assistance. The New York State Stay Informed. Great Lakes Water Levels Update. Waters on the Lake Ontario shoreline currently sit more than one foot above average.

Water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River urgently need to be lowered to avoid widespread flooding in 2020, a spirited band of shoreline citizens demanded Saturday.

About 150 protesters gathered at the Laurier Avenue offices of the International Joint Commission, which manages the level and health of the Great Lakes, then marched to Parliament Hill to appeal to the prime minister.

Among them was a solid contingent of residents from along the Ottawa River, who believe that the IJC’s Plan 2014 contributed to catastrophic flooding on the tributary river in 2017 and 2019.

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The new plan to regulate Lake Ontario levels had the bad luck to be rolled out in January 2017, just before the Great Lakes basin got slammed by record spring Those Ottawa River records lasted only two years; this month, the river hit new heights after another spring of heavy rain and melting snow.

Record flooding again on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River just two years after devastating floods in New York and Canada caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. Now, this is after an updated plan to try to manage the waterway. It's a plan critics say has actually made flooding worse.

Standing on an overturned milk crate, Sarah Delicate, a key player in United Shoreline Ontario, said Lake Ontario needed to be lowered more than half a metre by the end of December or waterfront residents and businesses would face severe hardship again next year.

a person holding a sign:  Sarah Delicate of Bowmanville, Ont., was one of the people who travelled to Ottawa for Saturday’s rally at the International Joint Commission Office before making their sway to Parliament Hill to protest perceived inaction on extreme flooding and high water levels on rivers in this part of the country. © Ashley Fraser Sarah Delicate of Bowmanville, Ont., was one of the people who travelled to Ottawa for Saturday’s rally at the International Joint Commission Office before making their sway to Parliament Hill to protest perceived inaction on extreme flooding and high water levels on rivers in this part of the country.

“If we don’t, our chances of avoiding a third catastrophic flood in four years will be extremely difficult to mitigate.” By some forecasts, Delicate added, water levels in 2020 could be 30 centimetres higher than this year’s disastrous peak.

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Protesters blame new Great Lakes plan for floods on Lake Ontario , Ottawa River . ‘Our hearts are broken’: Family of slain human rights activist wants joint Canadian-Somali investigation. Lanark man killed in Drummond-North Elmsley crash.

2:03 Belleville’s mayor blames International Joint Commission for Lake Ontario flooding . Appointing two mayors to the board that manages water levels for lakes and rivers on the U.S.-Canadian “When you add precipitation to an already heightened level of the lake , you’re going to have these instances.

Fighting a bitter wind, speaker after speaker — some wearing life jackets or sandbag togas — told stories of financial hardship, property damage, mental stress and ever-present uncertainty about whether hundred-year floods would become commonplace on the Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers.

Several said water regulators were trying to keep the water high on the St. Lawrence system to please shipping companies, while holding back flow on the discharging Ottawa to keep Montreal safe.

Bob Clark, 65, is part-owner of MetalCraft Marine, which has operations in Kingston and Cape Vincent, N.Y. He said the high water levels this year — the worst he had seen in more than 30 years — cost the company about $100,000 in damage and lost revenue. Docks were wrenched, recreational marina traffic was reduced and there was concern about the future of the firm’s 80 employees, who also build commercial boats.

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Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River are running about 21 inches higher than average. Coupled with an early snowmelt, the entire Great Lakes region and the Canadian provinces The impact hasn't been restricted to Lake Ontario . Flooding has hit the Montreal- Ottawa and Hamilton counties as well.

Forecast of water levels and flows of the Ottawa River at Temiscaming, Pembroke, Ottawa (Britannia) and Carillon. Levels and flows on the main stem of the Ottawa River are expected to be fairly stable over the coming week and should be close to normal conditions for this time Chats Lake at Arnprior.

“They paint the whole thing as an environmental breakthrough. It’s not,” Clark said. “The damage to the environment this year was historic.”

Indeed, Plan 2014 was intended to return Lake Ontario to a more natural state by allowing water levels to rise and fall to the betterment of about 64,000 acres of coastal wetlands. It went into effect in 2016, and its main control point is the Moses-Saunders Dam at Cornwall.

The commission says that a combination of massive snow melt, record rainfall and climate change contributed to the historic floods in 2017 and 2019 and that no regulation plan could have prevented them. Because the two floods were so close together, however, residents and politicians are beginning to question Plan 2014.

A group of 11 eastern Ontario mayors agreed this past week to ask for a repeal of the plan, and New York State has commenced a lawsuit against the IJC for failing to take proper measures to protect shoreline residents and state-owned waterfront facilities.

Saturday’s rally included people who had travelled to Ottawa from as far away as Bowmanville and Toronto.

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Integrated Management of the Principal Reservoirs of the Ottawa River Basin. The goal of this integrated management is to provide protection against flooding and maintain the interests of the various users particularly in hydro-electric energy production.

Ottawa is the capital city of Canada. It stands on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of southern Ontario . Ottawa borders Gatineau, Quebec

Debra McCord and her husband Bill live in the hamlet of Fernbank, about five kilometres west of Brockville, in an 1882 Victorian-style cottage along the St. Lawrence.

They are in the midst of raising the home and moving it five metres further back on the shoreline after flooding invaded their just-renovated crawlspace in 2019. Debra McCord said their expenses were in “the six figures” and the stress has been never-ending since 2017.

“For three years, the sleepless nights, looking out at the water, wondering, wondering why no one is doing anything.”

She believes the high-water levels have been a man-made outcome and the IJC should return to protocols it used from 1958 until 2016.

Steve Tomlin, 65, was at the rally with his wife, Juanita. They live on a section of Bayview Drive in Constance Bay that was hard hit twice in the past three years. He recognizes the complexity of the system, with multiple regulators and hydro utilities involved, but he’s also suspicious about the effects of Plan 2014.

“Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but it has to be looked into,” Tomlin said.

Like many who live along the Ottawa, he’s nervous about what 2020 might bring.

To contact Kelly Egan, please call 613-726-5896 or email kegan@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/kellyegancolumn

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