Is there a quick fix to the rising water levels on the St. Lawrence River? Yes, according to several Thousand Island politicians.
Michael Barrett, MP for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, along with Corinna Smith-Gatcke, mayor of the Township of Leeds and The 1000 Islands, are urging the International Joint Commission to increase the amount of outflow at the Moses-Saunders Dam near Cornwall, Ontario.
“By increasing the outflow of water at the dam, we can lower water levels in the St. Lawrence River. The IJC has failed to do so, and we’re seeing the impacts of this now,” said Smith-Gatcke.
The IJC manages boundary waters between Canada and the United States, which includes regulating outflows of Lake Ontario into the St. Lawrence River in accordance with the Regulation Plan 2014. The plan was initiated by the IJC in fall, 2016, replacing Plan 1958DD after over 50 years in effect.
“I’ve lost revenue each year since the plan 2014 because my property, and my customers’ property, have been flooded two of the past three years since it started,” said Scott MacCrimmon, part owner and president of Hucks Marine and Resort.
MacCrimmon says he contacted his local politicians for help during the spring when the risk of flooding became imminent. Both Barrett and Smith-Gatcke received his plea, among others, and planned several meetings with the IJC throughout the summer to find a solution.
“I wanted to get across to the IJC that there are people who feel they aren’t cared about and are left to deal with the flooding,” said Smith-Gatcke.
“I thought the meetings were productive and the IJC confirmed that they would meet with us during the second week of September, and they cancelled, which is disappointing,” said Barrett.
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The two politicians wanted to address Plan 2014 before its too late. They both told Global News that if the outflow increased during the fall, the water levels would be low going into spring 2020, providing a cushion as water levels tend to increase after the winter.
“If we don’t empty the glass and get it back down to where it should be, it means next spring we will be in for it worse than this year,” said Smith-Gatcke.
Global News attempted to contact the IJC several items over two days, but has yet to receive a response.
As for MacCrimmon and the future of the marina, he says they will continue to adjust to the increasing water levels but says he hopes this isn’t a new reality for his business.