International Joint Commission announces changes that could ease springtime flooding

I.J.C announces flexibility in outflows for lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River
It was announced Friday that the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board will be given the authority to deviate from Plan 2014 until June 2020.

The International Joint Commission (IJC) announced Friday that it has given authority to the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board to deviate from Plan 2014, which controls water levels for the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system.

This means that the board will be able to control the outflows of Lake Ontario over the next few months by opening the Moses-Saunders Dam in Cornwall to reduce the risk of high water in 2020.

READ MORE: ‘They can help and they are ignoring us’ says St. Lawrence River business owner amid flooding

In a statement sent to Global News by public affairs advisor Sarah Lobrichon, the International Joint Commission said it has given its board “the authority to deviate from Plan 2014 flows during the current crisis until Lake Ontario peaks next year.”

“This provides as much authority as under the old plan so that the Board can use every opportunity to release water without causing downstream flooding or severely harming other interests,” the IJC said.

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This announcement comes days after the Eastern Ontario Mayor’s Caucus where hundreds pushed the IJC to repeal Plan 2014, citing it as the reason for record-setting flooding.

Leeds and the Thousand Islands Mayor Corinna Smith-Gatcke has been an active voice in the fight against Plan 2014 and says she’s cautiously optimistic about the announcement.

“The treaty of 1909 says that waterfront property owners are supposed to be number one when considering making decisions for the waterway and it’s only as of today that I think they feel anyone is listening,” Smith-Gatcke told Global News.

Smith-Gatcke says her constituents have been hit hard this past year by devastating flooding and is hopeful an outflow water plan will prevent a “catastrophic event” next spring.

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“Hopefully it’s not too little too late,” she said.

In its own statement, the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board says that while an outflow strategy can influence water levels, the main driver is the weather.

The IJC announcement comes one day ahead of a planned protest on high water levels at Parliament Hill.