UNITED STATES & CANADA
INTERNATIONAL JOINT COMMISSION
PUBLIC INTEREST ADVISORY GROUP
In the Matter of:
INTERNATIONAL LAKE ONTARIO/
ST. LAWRENCE RIVER STUDY
September 2, 2004
Transcript of Public Meeting held in the above matter at State Route 104, Oswego, New York on September 2, 2004, at 7:00 p.m. pursuant to Notice. Connected via telephonic conference to Gananoque, Ontario, Canada.
BEN BANTA - Mayor Goseg (sic) Representative
JOAN KELLY - Town of Sterling Supervisor
MICHELLE WONDERLICK (sic) - Cayuga County Planning Office
IRENE BROOKS - USIJC Commissioner
DAN BARLETTA - PIAG U.S. Co-Chair
SCOTT TRIPOLI - PIAG Member & Facilitator, Oswego, N.Y.
SANDRA LAWN - PIAG Member & Facilitator, Gananoque, Ontario (Via Telephonic Conference)
BILL WERICK - PFEG, U.S.
ARLEEN KREUSCH - Public Relations
AARON SMITH - Public Relations Assistant
Associated Reporting Service
Post Office Box 674
229 West Genesee Street
Buffalo, New York 14201-0674
Proceedings recorded by electronic sound recording, transcript produced by transcription service.
Greeting By Ben Banta
Explanation of how the meeting will proceed by Scott Tripoli
Greeting By Irene Brooks
Power Point Presentation By Dan Barletta, D.D.S.
Question and comment session begins
Closing Comments by Scott Tripoli
P R O C E E D I N G
MR. TRIPOLI: I'd like to call our meeting to order today by introducing Mr. Ben Banta from the City of Oswego's office. He is an executive assistant to Mayor John Goseg. (sic)
MR. BANTA: Thank you, Scott. So on behalf of Mayor Goseg, I'd like to extend a warm welcome to Oswego. Unfortunately the Mayor had a conflict in his schedule so I'm pinch hitting for him tonight.
I do want to say I know how important a study like this is for this area. Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence Seaway, as you all know, is very integral to both the commerce, the recreation, tourism and also the quality of life in this area.
Some may disagree with me on the last point about quality of life, especially during the winter when the lake can act up to dump a lot of, help dump a lot of snow in this area. But I do appreciate the interest that has been shown by you attending here tonight. I must say, I'm a little disappointed in the turnout. I thought there would be more people from Oswego, and I would like to see younger people attend a meeting like this because it's their generation that's going to be impacted eventually by what's determined by your group.
But anyway, I'd like to thank Dan for inviting me out, Scott for giving me a pen to remind me of this, and I wish you well in your meeting. Thank you.
MR. TRIPOLI: I'd also like to introduce Joan Kelly, who is a supervisor from the Town of Sterling. Is she here?
MS. KELLY: Yes.
MR. TRIPOLI: Hi, Ms. Kelly. And as well, Michele Wonderlick (sic) from the Cayuga County Planning Office. Is Michelle here? Hi, Michelle.
My name is Scott Tripoli. I live in the Sandy Pond area and I volunteered my time to participate in this study and to represent the people whose lives might be affected by any study decisions. I do not work for any of the agencies doing the study.
The study that we are presenting to you is about water levels and flows in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. The International Joint Commission has made many attempts at developing a better regulation plan than the present one, entitled 1958-D.
In this latest attempt and for the first time the International Joint Commission has broken new ground by involving from the beginning the various stakeholders throughout the system, including first nation people.
By involving the stakeholders, the International Joint Commission is trying to make sure they would not isolate the various users from the study teams and risk missing any potential concerns in the preparation of the new regulating plan.
In doing so the IJC could not have been more fair and transparent in its attempt at producing the most comprehensive regulating plan for all the communities and users it serves.
We've invited you here tonight to hear what concerns you and to tell you how the study is doing. This may be the first time you have come to one of our public meetings or you may have talked to us before. If you have been here before, hopefully you'll learn something new. We've heard from people around the lake and down the St. Lawrence River and know that there are conflicting viewpoints.
We know that nature has a huge impact but regulations are needed to manage water levels. No one can forecast the weather precisely enough to guarantee when water levels should be raised or lowered, although with a hurricane coming maybe that's a little bit of warning.
One of the strongest impressions I've formed from working with the study team is how complex this lake and river system is. We really needed this research to give us the good science upon which to base better decisions.
The format for the evening is as follows. There will be a 30 minute Power Point presentation. Then we will break and you can write down some questions and we're going to have a question and answer period afterwards, in concert with a meeting just like this one in Gananoque, Ontario, which is right in the Thousand Islands area.
Some of you have come to this meeting with one question in mind or several questions. We encourage you to listen to the presentation, knowing that your question will be presented not only to the audience but to everyone in Gananoque and everyone will hear the answer as we can best attempt to give you one through various specialists from the study groups that we have here in attendance.
We will be alternating questions between here and Gananoque and since we want as many people in both places to ask their questions we ask that you please be concise and brief and to the point, and hopefully the answers will be so as well.
We have other guests here who will be presented to you during the presentation, and now making the Power Point presentation is Dr. Dan Barletta, who is the U.S. chair of the Public Interest Advisory Group and Dan lives in the Greece, New York area near Rochester. Dan?
MR. BARLETTA: Good evening. Before I get started I'd like to introduce one other member of the team, Irene Brooks, who is the IJC commissioner who's watching over us, and we'll give her a second to say a few words.
MS. BROOKS: Thank you, Dan. And when I look out there I see nothing but young people. I bring you greetings from my fellow commissioners. There are six of us, three Canadian and three U.S. commissioners. I've been attending these meetings, and I'm the lead commissioner so I report back to my fellow commissioners.
The reason I'm here is to observe and hear your concerns firsthand so I can have a flavor for what's going on. We attended last night's meeting at Henderson and today I had the opportunity to spend some time along the coast and you live in a beautiful, beautiful area.
So, I look forward to hearing your questions tonight and I hope you get some, the answers, maybe not the ones you want, but at least you'll get the experts to help you better understand the study. Thank you.
MR. BARLETTA: Thank you, Ilene. As Scott mentioned, my name is Dan Barletta. I live in the Town of Greece, which is just outside of Rochester. And there's been mention you guys have the snowiest part of the state. I think my driveway was the second snowiest last year. So, all right.
The presentation I'm going to show you tonight involves what has developed from the study in the last year. Okay.
Now, the International Joint Commission asked me to be part of the Public Interest Advisory Group. Our job is to make sure that your concerns and ideas are addressed in the Lake Ontario/St. Lawrence River study. Myself and Scott along with, there's 22 of us on this advisory board, 11 from the U.S. and 11 from Canada; we're all volunteers and we represent different locations and interests along the lake and down the river. Together we have held more than nine public meetings and 51 local stakeholders meetings with over 3,100 members of the public in attendance.
The International Joint Commission is responsible for the water shared between the United States and Canada. It was founded in 1909 by the Boundaries Waters Treaty. In December of 1999 the International Joint Commission initiated our study to review the regulation of the outflows from Lake Ontario to the St. Lawrence River to Trois Riveres, the area circled in red on the slide here.
We're presently in the fourth year of a five year study. There are over 120 people involved with the study. The International Joint Commission mandates that all its boards and studies have equal representation for both countries. I'm going to introduce, since it's a small crowd here tonight, I'd like to introduce the people that are in the study that are here tonight. You've already met Commissioner Brooks. Russ Towbridge is the IJC liaison to the study. We have from the study board Sandra LeBarron who is on the Study Board. Pete Loukes is here someplace. Myself. Well, we'll go through the technical working groups.
Okay. We have technical working groups, which are the scientists involved with the study. In the environmental group we have Doug Wilcox. The rec boating, we have Dave White. Okay. I thought he was here. For commercial navigation we have Roger Haberle, okay, in the back there. For coastal processes we got Pete Zuzek, who's over by the wall over there. From our water uses group we have Skip Shoemaker. And from the plan formulation and evaluation group we got Bill Werick. Are there any other -- oh, John Osinski (sic) from the hydropower group is here. And Scott and I are two members of the Public Interest Advisory Group here.
We have public affairs staff here, and Arlene who is behind the -- like in the Wizard of Oz, behind the curtain. David Klein, yes, environmental, right? And we got Aaron Smith at the back at the check-in.
I would hope with all these people here tonight and with the ones that are at the alternate site, we will be able to have the background to answer any of your questions.
Now, thinking about the water coming over Niagara Falls, I'm sure you're not surprised that up to 85% of the water coming into Lake Ontario during periods of high to average water levels in the upper Great Lakes comes from those other Great Lakes.
The light green area is the local watershed of Lake Ontario, light green area right here. The dark green area includes the watershed of the Ottawa River here but also the St. Lawrence River here. The interesting thing is, the Ottawa River which flows into Montreal, has few control dams on the lower part. So it's hard to predict how much water from the Ottawa is going to flow into the St. Lawrence in the next week or so, especially in the spring. That is one of the reasons why the flows of the Ottawa River must be carefully considered when regulating the flows on the St. Lawrence. Just this small fact gives an inkling as to the complexity of the system.
The Moses Saunders Dam at Massena is just one factor in controlling water levels. Nature is a more unpredictable factor.
Now, the flows through the Moses Saunders Power Dam are currently regulated using a set of written rules for releases called Plan 1958-D. Although it takes into account the interests water uses, commercial navigation and hydroelectric power, the plan does not consider the needs of the environment, recreational boating and shoreline erosion. Plan 58-D was based on the kind of water supplies that we got in the first half of the last century.
And after the extreme dry periods of the mid-60's and the wetter periods of the ‘70's, the plan allowed deviations from the written rules. These days 1958-D is deviated from about 50% of the time to make adjustments for not only changes in supplies, but also accommodating the old and new interests, and for ice formation.
So now the rules we use today we call 1958-D with deviations. This plan is implemented by the International St. Lawrence River Board of Control and that board is also appointed by the International Joint Commission.
On this slide you see that the green area indicates that the technical working groups have been in their study and data collection phase during the first three years of the study. The Plan Formulation and Evaluation Work Group is mandated to prepare computer models that will use all the data to help evaluate possible regulation plans for evaluation by the Study Board.
The Study Board has approved these guidelines that we're listing on this slide for deciding which new alternate plans and criteria would best serve the public. The guidelines will be used in ranking options for the International Joint Commission.
We know we can't please everyone all the time, but the goal of the study is to have every significant interest do as well or better than they do now. I'm going to leave this slide up there for a few seconds just because it's very important.
Now, I just want to mention, in your folder there is a handout which has a more detailed explanation of the guidelines. It says, International Joint Commission, St. Lawrence River Study, vision goals and guidelines. But just to review these here, any Plan that we submit to the IJC for consideration will have to be environmentally sustainable. Our ideal is not to have any disproportionate loss to any stakeholder. We would like to incorporate flexible management into the system.
We are going to mention mitigation alternatives as far as what, you know, one plan versus another might require. We hope to have any plans that we submit be adaptable to climate change. We, as part of this process we're going through even tonight, we want to make the decision process transparent.
That's why we come out to the public. We did this last year, we're going to come out this year, and we're going to be out next year. Now, we also want to have the plans adaptable to future technology.
Now, based on the input we have received from the public and the scientists for the last three years, the Study Team has written criteria, metrics, and performance indicators. These are being studied in order to come up with a variety of plans. As you can see on this slide, the team will keep refining these things, starting with the criteria. Those are the water levels people prefer or want to avoid.
Next, they will develop plans that will try to create those water levels more often. Then they will measure the economic and environmental benefits. Those are the performance indicators, to see if the new plans and criteria really help society. You'd think that if you gave people the water levels they wanted you'd increase benefits automatically, but that doesn't always happen. And we'll touch on that in a bit.
First though, let's clarify some of these definitions of the terms that we are sharing with you.
In the folder you received when you signed in, there is also another handout that lists the first cut of suggested evaluation criteria for plan formulation. It's a multi-page thing. It's got a bunch of graphs in there. You can just take a look at it. I'm just going to briefly veer from my little script here just to explain this thing.
These suggested evaluation criteria are not final; in fact, they are being adjusted as we go through the decision process based on study research and public input. We hope you will review these criteria and comment on them. The suggested evaluation criteria represent the shared common objectives by the various stakeholders, such as not letting the water levels get too high or too low, or reducing or accentuating the changes in levels and flows. But, all these terms will be easier to understand if we show you some examples.
Before we go any farther, on the second page is a suggested evaluation criteria. These are basically kind of generic. There's no numbers associated with those. As you turn a few pages though, just to give you an example, criteria one on the third page, it says minimized frequency, severity, duration of high levels on Lake Ontario and the Upper St. Lawrence, that first paragraph there. On page 6 lists that same criteria but below that is the metrics that are involved with that. And as we get into these charts in the next few minutes you'll understand how these all come together.
Now, we talked earlier about the extent of the Study. This evening, we are paired with Gananoque, Ontario, on the St. Lawrence River and we'll talk more about that later. Now let's look at our area.
I talked about criteria. Now, this slide shows a number of lines that represent the different criteria, the minimum and maximum levels that the stakeholders and researchers have come up with so far. And I'm going to give you an example what some of these lines mean.
But, before we go on, just to give you a reference point, in the handout under that slide we've listed what the average high level for Lake Ontario is and the average low level for Lake Ontario.
So, the average high level, just to give you a reference, because I didn't want to throw another line on here because these charts are really confusing. It's all lines. But the average high level is 247 -- 246.23, which is approximately in this vicinity. And the average low level for Lake Ontario is 244-1/2, is right about here. Okay, just to give you a reference point.
The rec boating and tourism group would like to minimize the frequency, severity and duration of water levels on or below 245.2 feet, or above 247.2 feet from April 15th to October 15th. If it is necessary to change the water levels more than 7 tenths of a foot from the beginning of May to the end of June, don't do it any more often than it would happen before March of 1955, the time we call pre-project. They also don't want the water to drop the water from the spring peak to the first week of September more than 9.6 inches any more often than really necessary.
The performance indicators that will test this criteria are listed here, and they are the economic and environmental impacts the study researchers say will occur because of one plan or another. Now, the performance indicators are listed in another handout. It says International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River preliminary performance indicators. And it goes through by group, by technical working group what their performance indicators are.
Now, the performance indicators are what the Study Board will use to, when we get a plan, and if you look at, remember that triangle we had. We had plans at the top, criteria and performance indicators. Performance indicators are the bedrock that will test the criteria to see if it's actually doing what it says it's supposed to do.
Now, beach users prefer that levels are maintained within the range from 243.4 to 246.7 during May through August to have the best access to beaches and all the associated recreational benefits. For those living along the shoreline, the coastal group has developed the criteria shown with this slide. The erosion process occurs at any water level. But the levels in the winter are the most important.
Research shows that winter storms cause the most damage because the wave action force during the winter months is more severe. Therefore, if we have a lower maximum of 245.1 feet from November to February. And the coastal would like to see 246.7 feet be the upper limit from May through August. Above this level the erosion process accelerates in the summer.
On this slide we kept the explanation performance indicators explanations very brief as we did with the rec boating, but more details are in that handout that you have.
The environmental technical working group has found that wetlands need higher lake levels about once every 20 to 25 years, so during periods of high supplies and lake levels the environmental technical working group would like Lake Ontario to rise to about 247.7 feet at the time it would usually peak, although a few inches higher than it would rise under the current plan, for about three weeks.
In a different climate situation, wetlands also need a very dry period about every 20 to 25 years. So their group has come up and said that during periods of low supplies and lake levels, they would like Lake Ontario be held at 245 feet or lower, or below for two years in succession with a gradual return to higher levels during the succeeding two years.
So most of the time no change is needed but a few times a century we need to allow the lake to go a little higher or a little lower, and this will give us healthier wetlands which we believe, and the researchers are still working on this part, in turn will give us a greater abundance and diversity of fish.
Under normal climatic conditions the minimum wintertime weekly Lake Ontario levels should be kept above 245 feet in most years. In Lake Ontario the first week of April is important also because of the fish spawning. If Lake Ontario levels can be kept at 246 feet and higher in the first week of April the fishermen will be happy when those young reach keeper size.
And on this slide here are some of the performance indicators related to the environmental area. Now, these impacts -- notes that these performance indicators are the impacts that could occur, rather than economic measures.
The commercial navigation companies find that these levels on this slide are important. During the shipping season if the levels get above 247.2 feet, the ships must reduce their speed to prevent shore damage to the eastern end of Lake Ontario. This, of course, increases their cost.
The two lower levels, the minimum levels shown on this slide, are also important to the companies. Any level below 243.9 feet means they have to reduce speed to keep safe under keel clearances, the bottom of the boat. Below 243.6 feet the ships must reduce the size of their loads. Each of these levels increase their costs.
And here again is performance indicators for commercial navigation and as before we give more details in that handout we gave you.
Minimize the frequency, severity and duration of Lake Ontario levels of 243.1 feet and lower so that municipalities, industries and shoreline property owners with wells are not negatively impacted. Now, these are mainly economic, but the social impact on people with wells could be considerable.
All right. We threw this slide in here because we didn't have a graph to go with it, but these are the hydropower performance indicators. I'll give you a couple seconds to read this. But the thing to remember, whether it's a hot day or a cold day we still all need electricity.
Okay. We'd like you to let us know what you think by contacting us by either regular mail or email. Our addresses are in the material you received. We especially need to hear from you about any of the metrics that we've spoken about tonight. Also, any that might need to be changed in the upper St. Lawrence River.
We will be summarizing all the comments and concerns expressed at the meetings this summer and thus providing your input to the plan formulation and evaluation group and the study board. Your input will be evaluated and incorporated into the study where possible.
Regulation in the 1960's began with a plan mentioned before, 1958-D. At that time it was the most advanced plan using the technology available at that time. Shortly after its use began, we got -- changes occurred in the climate. First we had the extended drought period of the ‘60's and extreme precipitation of the ‘70's, along with demographic changes that now include new stakeholders in the system.
The Board of Control was allowed to deviate from Plan 1958-D to try to satisfy these new conditions. Plan 1958-D with Deviations, that's 58-DD right here, up on the slide, became the actual, although not formally recognized operation plan.
During the study we are researching and developing plans based on economic rules, plans with the environment as the most important component, plans that stockholders are giving us and plans using information from other attempts that were made in the past.
All these plans are being entered into a computer model called the Shared Vision Model. Now, if you're interested in seeing this, Bill Werick, who is in the back there, is the U.S. lead for the plan formulation and evaluation group and he has a version of the Shared Vision Model on his computer if you're so versed into seeing it, and quite frankly, it's quite complex. But he'd be willing to show it to you at the end of the meeting.
Next year we will be returning to you with 2005 plan option for your consideration. This slide here shows our tentative dates for next summer when we will present to you these alternate plans based on the science and your input. Please mark the date for the meeting nearest you on your calendar and hopefully we'll be right back here, hopefully with a bigger crowd.
The Public Interest Advisory Group, the Study Board, the study general managers and the International Joint Commission liaisons will continue to meet with the plan formation and evaluation group during this upcoming winter. We will develop recommendations for plans to bring to you next summer.
In the fall of 2005, our report will be submitted to the Commissioners of the International Joint Commission for their decision process. Over the last three and a half years many people have been involved with the Public Interest Advisory Group.
As we stated at the beginning, we have all been volunteers but we have interest, deep interest in the lake and the river. But for a variety of reasons have not been able to stay on the PIAG. But you'll see my name and Scott's name up on that list, along with a number of other active members of the PIAG who aren't here tonight. Actually they're up in Canada.
And on this and the next slide you see names of the Study Board members, some of who have not been able to stay on the Study Board for the same reasons as the PIAG members but you'll see the names of the people here tonight that I have introduced you to.
Now, for the next portion of the meeting we'll be connecting with some of our experts who cannot attend tonight's meeting in person. You have already met the experts who are here tonight and we will also connect with Gananoque, hope I said that right.
We'll take a short break, very brief break, and give you an opportunity to write down some questions and let us get our connection up with Canada. And if you don't have a pen and paper, at the sign-in table there's extra pens and in your folder is a blank sheet of paper to write down questions if you have anything.
(Off the record to connect telephonically to Gananoque, Ontario.)
MR. TRIPOLI: A couple of comments first. Your comments and questions are going to be recorded so that we can make sure that they are taken into account throughout the progress of the study. We will be having a couple of wireless microphones for you to speak into. Please state your name and spell your name for us when you do ask a question.
We would ask that the people that ask the questions and the people that answer them be as concise as possible, as mentioned earlier. That way we'll have more time for everyone to answer questions.
We were in Henderson Harbor last night. We went right till 9:00 o'clock with all the questions. Our teleconference we would like to end at 9:00. Of course you can stay afterwards. Of course, you can stay on afterwards.
All the people here are ready to answer your questions afterwards if you don't get them answered during the course of the question and answer period.
MR. WEBB: Hello, Oswego. This is Canada here with good weather we'll send over to you, over.
MR. TRIPOLI: Yes, hi, this is Scott Tripoli here in Oswego. Who am I speaking with?
MR. WEBB: You're speaking with Paul Webb, a PIAG member and chair of this meeting,
MR. TRIPOLI: Hi, Paul. How are you?
MR. WEBB: Who is that?
MR. TRIPOLI: Scott Tripoli, Paul.
MR. WEBB: Oh, how are you?
MR. TRIPOLI: Good.
MR. WEBB: Okay. We're just going to introduce our moderator here. I'd like to introduce to everybody Sandra, Sandra Lawn. Sandra Lawn is a PIAG member and lives down in Prescott. Her husband is mayor Prescott and he's here tonight to make sure everything is working okay. Here is Sandra now. Come on, Sandra.
MS. LAWN: Good evening, everybody here in beautiful Gananoque and also in beautiful Oswego, New York. I'm going to be the facilitator in Gananoque and we'll be asking each person to, when they wish to ask a question make sure that you give your name and where you're from. And I've been given strict orders by Elaine that I'm to tell you also to be concise, and I know you will be. I know some of the people that are in this room and I know you're all very concise.
Haven't decided where the first question is going to come from, whether it's from Oswego or Gananoque. I guess we'll maybe go in alphabetical order.
Also, I'd like everyone to know that there are experts here in Gananoque and there are also experts in Oswego and Doug Cuthbert who is one of the major officials on the Canadian side is also standing by on the telephone. As it's already been stated, everything will be recorded.
So, are you agreeable, Scott, that we go in alphabetical order?
MR. TRIPOLI: We're ready to go and to defer to our friends in Canada to go first.
MS. LAWN: Okay. Thanks very much. What is the first question? I'm going to bring a microphone around so that you can speak directly into the microphone. Alan. Good. First question is from -- why don't you go first in Oswego? We're a little slow off the draw here. Oh, here we go. Okay.
MR. MARTEL: Alan Martel from Brockpole (sic). I know Sandra says be concise but we have to give a little bit of detail. First, my wife and I, she's with me, have lived with the river since 1971. We've monitored the water. We've met with the advisory board of the IJC five times over 10 years. We've sent him three technical papers, and we've heard them say the errors they have made and how they would be corrected.
My question tonight is, this year we've had a very mild summer. We've had a lot of rain. My question is, in the last four weeks, the St. Lawrence River has dropped 8.3 inches. I'd like to know why we aren't banking more water off of Lake Ontario and why in this type of season we drop the river 8.3 inches in August. Thank you.
MS. LAWN: Who wishes to give the answer? Elaine?
MS. KENNEY: It's Elaine Kennedy from the Public Interest Advisory Group and the reason I'm answering the question to start with, and I'm sure somebody else will take over from me, is because I want to talk to you from public to public, because I'm just a regular public person. And the key thing I want to tell you is that whatever is happening now that the control board is doing with the present regulations will not change. Their method of controlling the water levels using Plan 1958-D is not going to change.
The methods are not going to change until the International Joint Commission puts whatever we decide is, in the new situation, the new plans, whatever we all decide are the new plans.
Until they put those into place, and this could be in 2006, 2007, the regulations will continue to be implemented as it is now. And although your question is a valid question for the control board, sir, it is not, we cannot answer it from the point of view of the study. Okay?
MR. MARTEL: Thank you.
MS. KENNEDY: Yeah. All right. You may not like what I'm saying and that's why --
MR. MARTEL: (Unintelligable)
MS. KENNEDY: Yes. Because we don't -- as being involved in this study, we are not telling the control board how to run the system now. Okay?
So, I wanted to make sure that you heard that from a public person first. Now, do any of our technical people want to answer this gentleman? Tom? Okay.
MR. McCAULEY: Tom McCauley. I'm the engineering advisor at Ottawa, the IJC, and I'm a link or liaison to the study. But the lake itself, as you know, and the river Brockville is affected by lake levels as well that far down the river. It goes through a seasonal decline and hits its peak around, towards the end of June. And then it starts to decline in the fall towards the low level at December, January. And it has started that decline.
This is a period where supplies start to diminish and evaporation takes over. There's more water being lost to the air and that's part of the reason for the decline.
July had lots of rain. It was almost a record. And so the lake got up to about 15 centimeters above average in July. And now it's right about on the natural curve at this present time. I'm starting and I'll let anybody else take over.
MS. LAWN: Andre?
MR. CARPENTIER: Andre Carpentier. I'm working on the study board and I'm also on the control board. So you're right. You mentioned that we got a lot of rain in July and now we got less rain but still we got rain. And the plan 58-D is such that when we get rain, we ask that, you know, you release more water because you want to go back to the average as much as possible.
So, what we did in July is that we increased the flows even if we got, you know, we got a lot of rain, we increased the flows. You didn't see that because, you know, we got more flows -- more supply than the flows. Now we still try to go back to the close to the average so is releasing more water. But if you look at the average you can see that, you know, you, from July to September you got more variation that you got this year.
You mentioned that the levels go down by 8 inches, but if you look at the average you will get more than that, usually. So this year because of the Mother Nature, because of the condition, the wet condition, you know, the levels go down less than usual. It's part of the system.
If we don't do that and we got rain again, we will be, we will have more high water than you get right now. We should be careful, we should be prudent and that's why the plan itself and the control board is, you know, following that, is releasing more water than usual.
But even with that, the flow that is going down to the St. Lawrence is something around 100 centimeters typically higher than the average right now. It's not a big amount, so that's the implication. I think as Tom mentioned, we got a lot of rain in spring and also in July.
MS. LAWN: We'll pass it over to Oswego.
MR. TRIPOLI: Do we have any takers for a question from here? Anybody? Don't be shy.
MR. OLIVER: My name is Reed Oliver. I'm from Plattsburg, New York and I just have a -- I'm a property owner on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario and our biggest concern is the erosion that we get every spring. And the question I guess we have is, why can't something be done to, in anticipation of the high waters we're going to have every spring.
March and April are the two worst months, when we get the storms out of the west and every year, you know, we've been property owners for 47 years now and it's every, the camp has been moved twice in my lifetime to the point where it cannot be moved any further. And we have, you know, drag rift rafts down there down there to support the shore, but even with that, you know, nothing, nothing can contain Mother Nature.
And why can't some happy medium be reached here where the water, I mean you certainly know the water levels are going to be high come very spring, and you know you're going to get storms.
Why can't the water level be dropped in the winter when there is no need for commercial navigation and recreation boating in anticipation of this high level. What can be done to help us people on the eastern shore?
MR. TRIPOLI: The question was echoed by a couple of other folks as well. Do we have anyone ready to answer that question? Pete Zuzek from the coastal technical working group.
MR. ZUZEK: Okay. I'm going to take a crack at that. You've asked a pretty common question. I've been at all of the meetings on both sides, either the Canadian and the U.S. side. Shore erosion. It's a big topic to cover but I'd like to hit some of the key points.
The first thing that everyone must understand is, shore erosion is a natural process. It's been happening for thousands of years around the Great Lakes. It happens on the ocean coastlines. It happens everywhere where we have a land/water interface. So, what's happening with erosion is not simply attributed to the fact we have a dam in Cornwall.
The next thing is, like many natural system, there's give and take. When the bluffs erode in Pulaski and along the south shore, that is an unfortunate thing for the people that live there, but that sediment makes its way along to form beaches in other locations and in fact provides a benefit.
So for areas like eastern Lake Ontario where they have sandy shores, that sand didn't just show up. It comes from the areas of the lake where there has been erosion. So, we have parts of the lake that give sediment and we have parts of the lake that receive sediment.
And so there's a natural system here going on and it's a good thing, from the standpoint of beaches that we have parts of the lake that erode.
Now, that's unfortunate for the land owners that hold properties in the part of the lake that erodes, but that is a natural fact. As Dan mentioned, shoreline erosion also occurs at many different -- at every water level. When the levels are high you see the way it's attacking your bluff. They attack your sea walls and you see immediate damage to your property. When the lake levels are low and you have beaches in front of your bluffs or in front of your sea walls, erosion is still occurring in general along the entire perimeter of the lake, it's just happening on the lake bottom and you don't see it.
So this is a very complex thing, erosion. You can't just stop it with water levels. It's always happening. It's just happening at different locations across the profile. So that's a key thing to take from this.
The slide that is up on the screen now, for Gananoque, we have the coastal recommendation for the upper, the upper level or the upper range, that has both a different level for the winter and summer. The current upper operating range is 75.37 meters. So, that's your current upper level range.
What we're recommending with this black line that you see up on the screen, from January to December on the X-axis, is different ranges of upper levels at different times throughout the season.
So, during the winter, January, February, March, we're recommending that the upper level of the lake be kept at 74.7 or 245.08 feet. Same thing in the fall. So when we have these severe storms, you mention the spring storms, but in the winter when we have these severe storms and the erosion potential is highest, we're trying to recommend a lower range.
The lake has to come up. That is the natural part of this system. In the spring there's more supply than you can shove down the river. The lake is going to come up in the spring. We set an upper level of 75.2 or 246.7 as our recommendation for the upper level summer high. That is currently lower than the upper range today, with the existing regulation plan.
So just to wrap up, we're trying to provide a recommendation here for a new plan that is going to minimize erosion damages to the riparian properties. We cannot stop the erosion process. That's not our goal. But what we are doing with that black line is trying to recommend levels.
It's going to change now, the recommendation, seasonally. And we're trying to come up with a line that will minimize the impact of erosion on shoreline properties. And I'm -- I'm just going to pass it off to Doug.
MR. WILCOX: This is Doug Wilcox from New York's Geological Survey. Just to add a couple more points to help answer your question, water levels have been -- we've been in a high supply period for about the last 40 years, since the lows in the 19 -- mid 1960's, water levels have been on the high side.
These are part of the natural cycles into the lake we will be moving into lower periods probably some time in the future. The problem is that during -- because of regulation and because of high supplies, there have not been any low water level periods since 1965. When you have lows, you reactive sand, sediments to build, rebuild shorelines. That has not happened. So, you are facing erosion and not getting the rebuilding that you should have.
There's another component, too, and there's a reason I'm coming to the microphone. To talk about drawing water levels way down in the winter time so they won't be too high in the spring. Pete was certainly well aware of the erosion problems in the spring, but water levels need to be high enough in the spring time for fish to be able to access the spawning areas by a certain day, otherwise they don't have anyplace to spawn and they're bumping their noses up against the sand, the shoreline.
So it's a complicated system. You cannot simply, you can't solve it by drawing water levels down without having repercussions elsewhere.
MS. LAWN: Elaine. You want to add a point about the Ottawa River shed.
MS. KENNEDY: Thank you. It's Elaine Kennedy from the Public Interest Advisory Group. I just want to make the people in Oswego aware of another problem that is, could be created in Canada if the lake is allowed to change the wrong way during the wintertime.
If in the springtime, that that gentleman was talking about, too much water is let down the St. Lawrence River, it may be let down at the same time as the spring snow melt is coming down the Ottawa River. And I don't know whether or not, Dan, if you're on the computer, if you have the changing the outflow of the dam for one week slide, if you could show that, slide 68 if you happen to have the same setup, you could show the map, because what we have to do is take into account that Lake Ontario has to stay a little bit higher than perhaps what this gentleman would like, so that when the Ottawa flood comes down that river they don't have both the flood coming down the St. Lawrence and the flood coming down the Ottawa, and therefore, the people of Montreal getting really flooded out, not just erosion, they get flooded out.
And so therefore, we have to find a balance between the problems, and I can appreciate this gentleman concerned about his property and erosion, but the -- having your whole home flooded out to a greater extent is not fair either.
So, somehow we have to balance that idea, and that's one of the things that has to be taken into account, that change both in Lake Ontario and down in Montreal. Thank you.
MS. LAWN: Okay, it's Gananoque's turn for the next question.
MR. TRIPOLI: Sandra, we have an additional comment from the same individual who asked a question the first time, and I'll take a stab at reiterating his question which was, not so much the concern of letting water out in the spring, but being able to lower the water more in the wintertime so that when the spring freshet (sic) does occur that the amount already in a relatively high water situation, and I really can't answer, I don't know what the control strategies are for the wintertime, and maybe someone can answer really what happens in the winter, and is that taken into account in any way.
MS. LAWN: Anyone ready to -- Andre?
MR. TRIPOLI: We have Bill Werick who is going to give that a shot.
MS. LAWN: Okay. Go ahead.
MR. WERICK: I think probably the most direct answer to your question is, we'll try that. We now have the research and the information so that we can model what happens with a new idea like that. Bring the lake down lower in the wintertime and see what happens. And when we come back next year we'll show you the results. Then we can tell you -- I mean all the things that you've heard tonight, I don't disagree with.
We know that it's a complex system and that there's a price to pay for the benefits you get from drawing the lake down, but when we do the analysis with the model we'll come up with the actual numbers and we'll see how low we can take it, and see what the trade-offs are and we can come back and tell you that.
MS. LAWN: Okay.
MR. TRIPOLI: Okay, go ahead.
MS. LAWN: We have a question from Gananoque. Give your name and where you're from.
MR. KELSO: My name is John Kelso and I'm a research scientist. I work on the technical -- environmental technical working group. I'd just like to comment on the winter draw-down in terms of all those other factors that might be affected.
Winter draw-down is really very important in terms of fish production. And many fish species get stranded if we draw these waters down so that we're into the marsh areas where we have pooling, ice will form and these fish will actually be killed by this winter draw-down.
In fact in 1964 and ‘65 we had well-documented facts throughout the St. Lawrence River and eastern Lake Ontario that large numbers of fish were found dead as a result of that low water. Certainly the data input that's going into the model will allow us to analyze this aspect and see how important it is. Thank you.
MS. LAWN: Thank you very much. That was really further to some of the points that were being made. I assume that we still get another question in Gananoque. Is there another question? Sir?
MR. DEMPSTER: My name is Ed Dempster and I am from Gananoque. I don't want to sound like I'm beating a dead horse here, to do with the water levels. I was out to the river today and yesterday and this gentleman here alluded to something like eight inches. It looks like it's dropped more than that to me.
Anyways, I go back a little bit in history and I remember when the Seaway opened and they said that the controls would be within a foot either way. Now, either way of what, I don't know at that time. But the water levels I find, I go down to the east coast every year and I go through Valleyfield. I go across the river there. And there's a hydroelectric dam there. I don't know the name of it. But every year I go down those generators and those flues ways are running wide open, every one of them. And I have a problem with that, providing electricity to Montreal or wherever it goes.
The problem I have this year, for instance, when I came back, I came back the same way, they are running but so are all the gates. They're just dumping water. And I don't know why they do that. I can understand the power problem but I can't understand just dumping water and that's what they were doing when I come back. And they did it last year and they did it the year before, when I come through there. And that's lowering the levels here. I don't understand that. Maybe somebody can answer that for me.
MS. LAWN: Okay. I think Tom's getting ready. Or, Tom's pointing to Andre.
MR. CARPENTIER: You are referring to -- Andre Carpentier from the study board. You are referring to Cornwall generation station, I think, right down to the Valleyfield. The generation station there is just using the flows coming down from Moses Saunders. They are not storing water. They are not emptying the lake Saint Francis. They're just using the flow coming from Moses Saunders from the dam at Massena and Cornwall.
When you said that they are dumping water, maybe you're right because their maximum flows capacity at Cornwall is something around 7200 CMS, and right now we are showing 7700 CMS. So, they are using also the other generation station at Lisette that is not so efficient. And sometimes they have also some turbines out for maintenance. That is the problem.
But as I mentioned, they have to use the water. If it's too much water, they have just to dump the water. But usually they try to dump, you know, spill the water.
MS. KENNEDY: I think one of the things, too, from my understanding, and I'd like Andre and Tom to correct me if I'm wrong. But it's my understanding that whatever is coming out, whatever the regulations say to do at Cornwall, six hours later that's what they do at Borhornwa (sic) because that's how long it takes the water to move down through Lake St. Frances. And as Andre said, they don't control anything. They just follow the orders of what's happening at Cornwall. Okay? Cornwall controls it, the dam at Cornwall controls it.
MS. LAWN: Cornwall, Massena.
MS. KENNEDY: Cornwall, Massena, yes.
MS. LAWN: Okay. It's Oswego's turn now.
MR. TRIPOLI: Okay. Thank you, Canada. Any takers for another question?
MS. COSANTE: I'm Sheryl Cosante from the eastern Lake Ontario shoreline. I've been a resident there for 51 years. My family has been at the same location since 1930. I have an incredible stack of photos that show the devastating amount of erosion that has happened, especially since 1960.
What I would like to do is suggest an additional performance indicators for coastal processes that better addresses the shoreline owners' concerns. Instead of considering purely beach access costs. For instance, $2 a car to go to Southwood Beach per day, I would like the group to consider the amount of taxes that the shoreline owners pay and divide that into -- pass along effect, how many groceries we buy, how much gas we buy, how much entertainment we purchase, and compare that, and compare that to the boat launchers, for instance, that might only be there for the day, 24 hours or less, whereas we stay there for six months or longer throughout the year.
I think that that kind of performance indicator would lend a far greater -- would lend a far greater reading of how much damage this high level is causing the shoreline property owners.
MR. TRIPOLI: Do we have anyone who might be able to discuss the performance indicators on the coastal zone and how that suggestion may play into it? Pete Zuzek?
MR. ZUZEK: Thank you, Scott. My name is Pete Zuzek, a contractor. I work at Baird and Associates, working specifically with the coastal group. We have several performance indicators. You mentioned beach access. We also look at erosion, some properties that are eroding. We're directly measuring impact of erosion. We're looking at impact to shoreline protection structures, existing sea walls and revetments (sic), groins, et cetera, that exist alone the shore. We also look at flooding, so economic damage is due to flooding. So we do have many performance indicators.
The one you mentioned -- well, firstly, your question was two-part. Sheila suggests, what's happened, why have things been so bad since 1930? Where have the beaches gone? Eastern Lake Ontario is a very complex area. Eastern Lake Ontario sand dunes they are sometimes referred to as. It's not as sandy as people think. We spent a lot of time studying this area.
One of the things that's happened, and it was touched on briefly here, is that the water levels, the supply of water to Lake Ontario since 1960, since the lows in 1960, has been much greater than it has been in the early part of the 20th century. And so there's a lot more water coming into Lake Ontario than there was from 1900 to 1960. That water has to go somewhere. It fills up the lake. And so, eastern Lake Ontario has really suffered, as all of the Lake Ontario shoreline has, from more supplies.
So, one of the reasons that your property may have suffered is that there's been more supply coming into the lake than there has in the early part of the century when you bought the property potentially.
We had very low supplies in the ‘30's. The beaches were very wide. In the 1960's the beaches were very wide. And now it's just a fact of, we had very low supplies and the beaches looked very wide. So that's part of the question.
Eastern Lake Ontario, we haven't touched on this yet, even yesterday when we were in Henderson. A lot of shoreline protection is being put into that area. A lot of properties are being armored with walls and sea walls. That has a negative impact on the properties as well. And so it's a very complex dynamic of things going on there as to why your area suffers from erosion.
Getting to your question about the taxes, why is that not being considered, I'm not sure I can give you a really good answer on that. There is -- maybe that's something we can talk about after. We've thought about the performance indicators quite extensively and we have our list.
We can consider it, but we kind of focus on expenditures for shoreline protection structures, those types of things, as opposed to indirect expenses like buying groceries and other things.
MR. TRIPOLI: Pete, a question -- this is Scott Tripoli. On the performance indicators in that regard, once the performance indicators are developed is it just supposed to show a representation of the situation for a particular stakeholder or is it supposed to be cumulative where you add up every possible cost and compare it? It's just a representation, isn't it? We're not trying to determine every bit of cost for every stakeholders, correct?
MR. ZUZEK: We focused, again, you're asking almost an economic question which is not going to be my specialty. But, we haven't tried to quantify every dollar spent. We don't have a full input-output economic model.
MR. TRIPOLI: Right.
MR. ZUZEK: We focused on various components of the economy, such as impacts from flooding, impacts to existing sea walls and revetments, impacts due to erosion losses, so we've focused on measurable components to help us compare plans. We have not tried to quantify every dollar spent in the economy.
MR. TRIPOLI: Right. And those costs would be representative of other costs as well, so whatever happens in the model with those costs would be very similar to other ways of measuring the effects economically in that area.
MR. ZUZEK: I think what you're getting at, if I'm reading between the lines, the measures we have, although they're not completely quantifying all the impact, they will do a very good job at ranking plans, telling us what is a good plan from the standpoint of the riparian landowner and what is a bad plan.
So, although we haven't taken in the suggestion of the question on taxes, we have a suite of other performance indicators which we feel confident will allow us to rank plans, will show us the good plans, show us the bad plans and what is sensitive.
So, I think as a riparian you can be confident we're going to come up with -- we have a way now to quantify good and bad from the standpoint of riparian landowners. And we could add another performance indicator but the trends and the answers will still be the same at the end.
MR. TRIPOLI: Do we have a follow
UNKNOWN FEMALE VOICE: I just wanted to add to what Peter was saying. My comment about the taxes and adding an additional performance indicator for the riparians was in response to what I read about the recreational boating and tourism performance indicator, which was the day trippers' economic value to the region which turned out to be, I don't know, $50 a day, something like that.
But, they come once a day, maybe one or two times during the whole season. We come every single weekend, or sometimes we stay there for an entire six months, and for our performance indicator to be a beach access fee of $1 and the boaters have the beach -- their performance indicator is $50 to $75, that's not fairly preparing our economic impact to the region to the recreational boaters, and that's what I would like to have considered.
MR. WILCOX: This Doug Wilcox, from the U.S.G.S. again. It seems that the major questions here are related to shoreline erosion and I just wanted to add some more perspective to this. I work across the whole Great Lakes basin, in all the Great Lakes. And so I see a lot of different things going on there.
Water levels, we've done a climate change study that put together a 4,700 year record of lake level history in Lake Huron. We'll have one for Lake Superior very similarly and soon. It shows periods of highs and lows, major highs and lows and minor highs and lows. We have been in a period of the smaller highs occurring near the peak of one of the larger highs. So, we've had really high supplies, and it's affected all the lakes.
The perspective I wanted to give you is, I was going to go today, I was on the shore of Lake Michigan, and in an area where 10 years ago -- seven years ago, the water level was right to the toe of the bluff and eroding away, particularly eroding the areas where there was shoreline protection installed, because it just sends all the water and all the sand offshore.
Lake Michigan, Huron, all the upper lakes over the last four or five years underwent a really low. People are screaming and hollering because water levels are too low. But in the process, the beaches have rebuilt.
The property where I was, where the beach was where the beach was -- that the water level was sloped is now, the water is out 100 feet from shore, and the sand has blown up, there's new dunes being built in front of the property. You can't even get down the steps where you have to climb up over another dune, and there's miriam grass growing on it. It's rebuilding the shoreline.
That has not happened on Lake Ontario It should have happened. If we were under natural regulations, and natural lake levels changed, it likely would have happened over the last several years too.
The current regulation plan tries to maintain a level, a moderate level, an average level of the lake, and it does it every year. One of the reasons that we're here is to generate a new regulation plan, and talk about generating a new regulation plan that does new things. That's one of the points that needs to be addressed. And I'm not going to make the new plan, but please understand that there are several interest groups that are talking about adding some low lake levels to the scenario for Lake Ontario.
If they do that, provided that there is still sediment supply available, it's very likely that some of your beaches will rebuild. That's ultimately your answer. You need to rebuild the beaches with sediments that are already out there.
UNKNOWN FEMALE VOICE: During the low water periods?
MR. WILCOX: During low water periods, yes.
MS. LAWN: Is it again Gananoque's turn? This young lady right here.
MS. Bonet: Hello. My name is Mandy Bonet, (sic) I'm from -- a citizen of Gananoque. You mentioned a few times in your presentation that there was an increase in water flow coming from the watershed. What part of that do you attribute to changing land use like farming and urbanization if any, and if there is a problem with it, are you planning on going to the land managers and trying to change that?
MS. LAWN: Oh, we have a volunteer expert.
MR. MOIN: My name is Syed Moin. I am with the hydrology and hydraulics technical working group. Basically what we have done is we have looked at the last 100 years of record. That's the one that we use for developing any plan. And that has indicated as you can see in this one there's a shift in the supplies since about the dry years of 1960. And that shift is quite noticeable, especially for Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
So, and 85% of the flow that we get here is coming from Lake Erie. So that's why we have seen lot more higher flows, lot higher flows since the mid 1960's or late 1960's till now. So, the land use, you have some impact, but most, because of the type of the water area that we have, that would have a very small impact when compared to what's falling on the lakes
MS. LAWN: Thank you, Syed. Is there another question from Oswego?
MR. TRIPOLI: Any other questions? Just a second.
MR. QUINN: I'm James Quinn from Wolcott, New York, riparian. Been there since 1957. One of my talents is, I have a building, cottage, $100,000 value, it's down within the last probably 10 feet from the shoreline. This is going to be taken off the tax rolls.
How many other places along Lake Ontario have had to be taken off the tax rolls or a huge expense to move them? I've been having heart murm tonight listening to the figures that they're throwing out. You freeze your butt out there in Lake Ontario in April. You might have a damn good snow storm. You still might have a real cold time out there in October. There's compromise.
There's compromise on lake levels and there's compromise on what needs to be done. Tonight I'm not hearing compromise with these figures that are presented to us.
MR. WILCOX: Doug Wilcox again. I got involved in the lake level issue with IJC a dozen years ago when there was another IJC study involving high lake levels and attempts to control all the lakes. Since that time we had high lake levels.
If we have low levels people complain that they want another plan to control lakes because they're too low. Back then and now, the answer is going to be compromise and that was the original, what were they, criteria, Dan? No disproportionate loss, things improving for all groups. That is indeed compromise.
The water levels being proposed to help the environment, if I had an environment plan, and that's the group that I'm in, it wouldn't look anything like the one I'm proposing that we put in place because I know that there's got to be compromise. And all the interest groups are going to have to compromise so we're going to have to come up with a plan. We're not going to meet our own criteria if we don't compromise.
Some of the things, I understand your concerns, but this system is much bigger than we have the engineering or the human capacity to control that tightly.
You also need to understand, and a subject that hasn't been brought up tonight, every drop of water that goes over the dam to keep Lake Ontario water levels at some given stage is water that's going downstream. If you hold it back and they need water down there, or if you dump water to lower the lake, you can flood people out there.
Even from the environment standpoint, if we get a plan that helps the environment on Lake Ontario it's also got to be a plan that will help the environment, or at least not be destructive of the environment downstream from the dam. It's a complicated system and there are no real easy answers to it.
MS. LAWN: I wonder if Doug Cuthbert would like to add something at this point. We haven't heard from him yet. Are you there, Doug?
MR. CUTHBERT: Can you hear me, Sandra?
MS. LAWN: Yes, well.
MR. CUTHBERT: Certainly the gentleman speaking to compromise puts his finger on the heart of the whole study and in fact even the operations of the plan at the moment. It's a compromise between all of the interests involved.
Currently the regulation is actually holding the water levels lower during high periods than otherwise would occur naturally, and higher during low periods. That's a compromise, too.
We're look at to balance the compromises within the current interests the system now, recognizing the concerns that everybody has mentioned. So, certainly, sir, we are at our heart trying to balance among all of the interests and strike a compromise that everybody can live with. Thank you, Sandra.
MR. TRIPOLI: This is Scott Tripoli speaking. I want to reiterate what Elaine Kennedy from Gananoque had stated earlier, which was the current regulation plan right now is not really what we're trying to discuss. What we're trying to discuss is how to make changes and possible improvements to the existing plan, and that perhaps is an area that will certainly be addressed in the future. Gananoque, any questions on your end?
MS. LAWN: Okay. Any other questions? Paul, you have a question?
MR. WEBB: My name is Paul Webb. I'm from Gananoque and down in Brochville and Clayton. We have a plan now, and it's about four feet top to bottom, and it's managed by the board of control.
My remark and question is the fact that, no matter what plan goes into effect that we're going to come up with, it's got to be managed. It's got to be managed daily, hourly. It can't be arranged by people who live many miles away who never really come down to see the river. It has to be done with hands-on management more than anything else. And no matter what kind of a plan we put it, it doesn't make any difference if the people aren't here.
A couple years back they opened the dam up at Cornwall to make sure the lake wasn't too high in the fall for flooding, and lo and behold, they forgot to close it, and it went on and on and on and down the lake went. That was a very, very serious time, and the board of control and the IJC admitted they had made a mistake.
So, no matter what plan is put into effect, whether it's a good one or a bad one, it's got to be managed properly. Thank you.
MS. LAWN: I assume that was a statement. Is there a question in there, or is there an answer out there to a statement?
MS. LAWN: What is the guarantee that it's going to be better than it is now? Doug Cuthbert, why don't we ask him to answer that question.
MR. CUTHBERT: Well, I think we're all here tonight and representatives of the commission are here tonight to ensure that we do make it better than it currently is. Whether we come out with that in the end, as everybody feels it's better, it's going to be a perception question, but it's certainly our intent to improve it. Thank you, Sandra.
MS. LAWN: There's certainly a great deal of effort going into this study. That we do know from close hand. Andre?
MR. CARPENTIER: Andre Carpentier from the study board, and also, as you know, from the control board. I think we can take your statement as a suggestion, Mr. Webb, but I have to say also that the -- You know, part of the control board, all along the lake and downstream. You -- we have I think, geographically difference on the control board. There is some people, you know, living in Gananoque around the lake, and also Oswego and downstream.
So, that I think we got every comment, concern and consideration of the whole system. But also the study will sure recommend something to the IJC about the control board, the representation and also the new decision-making process. That would be part of this study. So, your statement will be taken into consideration as part of the information.
MS. LAWN: Do we have a question from Gananoque?
MS. BANANGEN: Hi. This is Alani Banagen (sic) a citizen from Gananoque. I was just wondering as a follow-up to that question, does the IJC have the mandate to have staff that it is their day to day job to give recommendations to the dams as to holding the water back or not, and like who is managed to do that?
I mean, we had instances in Quebec where they had problems with dam, and even with an Ontario with the whole Walkerton incident where once the government was removed and there was more privatization that there's been accountability problems between the organizations.
I was wondering, is that included in the plan or is that a second study?
MS. LAWN: That's ongoing at the present time, and I guess Tom, you can speak and perhaps describe briefly the control board's role.
MR. McCAULEY: Myself and possibly Andre as well. I'm Tom McCauley and I'm an engineering advisor at the IJC office in Ottawa. I am also a liaison not only to the study but to the control board. And the control board meets regularly and since that even that Paul Webb mentioned also has monthly conference calls.
But they also have a support structure. They've got a regulation representative from each side and the Canadian one is in Cornwall right where the dam is. And there's a weekly decision on how much water goes down the St. Lawrence River.
They follow the plan, unless there is a need for deviation. It's followed actually very closely, and the operations advisory group has members from the hydroelectric board from Ontario Power, from New York Power Authority, from the Seaway and they take into consideration all of the concerns and interests as well, in case there is a need for deviation because of some critical needs in the system.
So, this takes care of itself very well. That's why we chose a board that has equal members on both sides, Canada and U.S., and they are all linked with the system in some way. And so, this board administers the orders for the regulation of the river, and we follow them. And they report twice a year to the International Joint Commission at the semi-annual meetings in Ottawa and in Washington. And they give a full report, and they appear before the commissioners. So we do follow this fairly closely.
MS. LAWN: Okay. Go ahead.
MR. TRIPOLI: Any takers from Oswego? Going once -- Anybody there in Gananoque?
MS. LAWN: Okay. We've got somebody here. If you could just give your name and where you're from.
MR. HAMPTON: John Hampton from Lands Down, born in Gananoque, lived on the river since 1966. Every year it seems the magic date for the river taking a dramatic drop is September the 1st.
It's been noted that the power stations east of Cornwall don't have capacity for holding the water back, so everything they don't need goes on through the sluice ways and down the system. Is there no reason that -- is there any reason that this surplus of water could not be let out more gently over a period of time rather than taking such a dramatic drop just the first week of September.
It would be much better for the people recreationally and I don't think it's going to cause any problems to anybody either in our area or down below the dam if it's over a controlled easy drop of the system. Thank you.
MS. LAWN: Thank you, John. Syed is going to address this, or try to.
MR. MOIN: I will try to. This is Syed Moin from hydrology and hydraulics. Your point about the lake level starting to go down on 1st of September is, it's already on a downward trend.
It follows a natural cycle of supplies and basically flows out of the dam, and what happens is during spring freshet, we have more coming in than we can put out, so water levels goes up and during, from about late June, that's normally the peak the lake will obtain will be in late June, and after that the supply goes down and then our operation will also come into play because of the summer and fall months. So, it's an actual decline that the lakes are going through.
Even if you don't have the dam in question, the lake would follow the hydrologic trend which is basically highs during summer and then it continually fall during the late summer and the fall months, and then again goes to, the lowest point would be sometime in December and then again it starts to go up, based on the supply.
MR. TRIPOLI: This is Scott Tripoli --
MS. LAWN: Anyone else of our experts want to address this?
MR. TRIPOLI: Sandra, I have a question. Maybe there's someone from the control board that could give an indication of what the outflows maybe have been recently and kind of show that, you know, the outflows haven't been jumped up significantly during this time of year, and that it's really a measure of supplies.
MS. LAWN: Andre, can you answer that question?
MR. CARPENTIER: Let me think about that.
MS. KENNEDY: This is Elaine Kennedy. While Andre is thinking about that, I'd just like to put in two cents because I live in Cornwall, well, just north of Cornwall.
One of the problems with trying to hold back the water that you're talking about being spilled at Bohondrioux (sic) or Lesedra (sic), that would be where to keep it. Lake St. Frances, which is where it would have to be kept, the water level of the surrounding land is very close to the water level of Lake St. Frances, when the water is going through and not being stored.
If we tried to store water on Lake St. Frances, there would be a terrible problem with flooding for the people on the shores of Lake St. Frances. Not close to Cornwall but down from about Lancaster east, you would have a real problem for flooding for the people around, around Lake St. Frances living on the shores. And so I think that, frankly I'm guessing on this, but I think that's one of the reasons why they don't try to store, and that's why I'm going to turn it over to Andre about trying to store water using Bohondrioux or Lesedra.
MR. CARPENTIER: You know, the Lake St. Frances is not as big as Lake Ontario. Sure. Everybody knows that. And you cannot store water there because you know they have some regulation. They cannot fluctuate the levels more than, I think, 20 centimeters, or eight inches only, and they are doing so plus or minus four inches about, you know, each -- as they can, but they try to get stable levels there because there is no store space for the water there.
Now, the gentleman asked about the difference between the, what we can call the natural flow or the regulated flow right now. The natural flow right now would be a little bit higher -- excuse me, a little bit lower than the regulated flow, but the level will be higher than the regulated flow.
Right now the natural or pre-project levels on Lake Ontario will be 20 centimeters higher than the level right now. That means that will be almost 30 centimeters higher than the average. So it's a foot. But because of the switcher of the, you know, the bed and the river before the regulation, the flows will be a little bit lower than right now.
That's why the natural level is going up higher than the regulated, because the capacity of the river is not enough on natural condition, is not big enough to release water. That's why the levels is going up. If it is natural.
So, you have to have in mind that without dams, the capacity of the river will be a little bit lower than the regulated flows. And I repeat, the level, if we don't have the dams right now will be 20 centimeters higher than it is right now. And the gentleman mentioned that by beginning of September the levels is going down. It's, you know, the natural cycle of the watershed.
If you look at the natural flows and natural levels, you can see that, you know, during this time the level is going down. The average, if you look again on the average, the levels is going down. So it's, you know, the supply is such that is not enough to keep the water up.
MR. WERICK: This is Bill Werick on the American side. Those were good explanations. I just want to add a simple thing. I heard two ideas, two suggestions for new ways of regulating the lake tonight.
One was to drop the lake levels lower in the wintertime, and I think the suggestion I just heard was to drop them more gradually in the fall. And I just want to say, everything you heard were good reasons why those things are difficult to do, but we'll take those ideas and we can try those out and model them, and we can come back and show you the good and the bad that would happen if we did that. So, this is what the study is about, to hear your ideas and to try them out.
MS. LAWN: That's a very good comment because people are making suggestions that could be modeled for sure. Any other questions?
MR. TRIPOLI: We have one here.
SHERYL: Follow up to the modeling, perhaps you could also model what would happen to the riparians if the lake were to go up a foot as the Gananoquen gentleman just mentioned. You'll see a lot of the tax rolls disappear.
MS. LAWN: Okay. We have a question from Gananoque from a gentleman that hasn't been heard from as yet.
MR. REGAN: My name is Tom Regan and I'm a U.S. citizen. I live across the river from Paul. Directly across, and I've had to put my boat away. I actually live in a very bad part of the river, as far as water levels. But I have a question about the regulation.
What about the Iroquois Dam and lock system? That, I know for a fact, at least from what everybody says, that there's extra water going through the power, Moses and then the one down below, there's excess water, more than they need now.
I know also, because I've been there, that the Iroquois lock system, that's wide open. It's been wide open. I realize that they're hand operated and a lot of them are rusted and probably couldn't be used. They make no attempt and haven't made any attempt that I know in a long time of trying to regulate. The purpose that I understand that was put in to begin with was to do some regulation.
Can't, wouldn't it, if they tried to use that, couldn't they, you know, do some storage there and kind of mediate the radical change in the river levels and also the lake?
MS. LAWN: Thank you for your question. That's a good question. They're all good questions.
MR. KING: I'm John King from Ontario Power Generation and we are the company control the Iroquois Dam upstream. The purpose of the Iroquois Dam is, when it was constructed, is intent to control, regulate the level.
After the station was put in and a test was done and it's found that the station, the Saunders/Moses station itself, can regulate and control the flow. And since that Iroquois is not really used to control or regulate a flow. Only during some time when the level is very high at the Saunders area, then they use the Iroquois Dam to suppress the levels. Okay? That's one purpose of using Iroquois Dam now. And the other purpose they use is to control the ice formation. Okay?
When there's enough ice formed from the power station all the way to Iroquois Dam, just before that, they use the Iroquois Dam to cut the ice supply off and from further up so it doesn't cause ice dam or a jam up situation there. So that's the purpose of Iroquois Dam. Okay?
Currently regulation at the power station. I don't see any problem there. Did I answer your question?
MR. REGAN: Can you address the fact that there's no water being actually spilled.
MR. KING: Oh, yeah, there is no water -- okay, the other thing about the spill; as a hydropower company, including Hydro Quebec, we are very cautious about the water. Normally we don't spill, okay, under any condition, unless there's a requirement. Okay?
Referring to the earlier question about the, you see the spill at the station at Hydro Quebec there, there's a couple station there. One that's going through Bohondrioux ,the other goes through Ceder. Okay? Now, I'm not sure, I'm not expert about Hydro Quebec system, but I believe the Ceder power station about -- got a control dam to control the water that goes to the Ceder. And you may see that control dam there spill all the time.
I recall Hydro Quebec don't really like to spill, too. I think going back to over a few years back and when the flow is very high they have to spill. They have to get extra people there to manage the spill there. Okay?
The other area you may see the water flow over it at the Weir (sic) next to the Bohondrioux Dam. Okay, the Weir. That Weir is to regulate some, you have a station, like a unit breakdown or whatever, there's excess water come in, and it may flow over to Weir, that's the only purpose, Okay?
MS. LAWN: Okay. We have a supplementary question. Thank you very much for that answer.
MS. REGAN: I realize -- this is Tom Regan again. I realize that what the purpose of the system is, but what I'm saying is that in my opinion the system is -- they keep saying, this is the way it's supposed to operate, but that's not the way it is operating now.
There is excess water going through those power projects. Whether they can call it spill or whatever, they have a certain amount of water that needs to go through to turn the turbines, and there is more water going through there than they actually need to generate power. They admit that.
That power, that dam structure in Iroquois could be used. It was built to be used and it's not being used. That, if it gets used at all, it's very minimal. I go up there at least once a month and I've been going up there for probably at least two and a half years. Those gates hardly ever even move. They're always wide open or very close to being wide open. So, I know that that system can be used more than it actually is. I don't know why it isn't.
MR. KING: Actually I was going over the record for the past several years. Recently I don't recall that any spill at the power dam there. Now, Iroquois, all the water coming from Iroquois goes through the power turbine. Okay?
Besides the power turbine, or the power station, on the side there's small spill going through because of the old, the ship lock there. The water cannot be stagnated. So, they have a little bit of water just 10, 15 kilometer per second water to keep that water clean there. That's all the water going through there.
The spill, main spill dam is at Lonsioux (sic) Dam there, for the past year I hadn't recall any spill there. Actually, if there is a spill, we have to report to the control board. And also, yourself, we have to make justification why we spill. So, no power station really want to spill. Okay?
MR. TRIPOLI: We have a couple of comments here from Oswego. First, Russ Trowbridge.
MR. TROWBRIDGE: Hi. This is Russ Trowbridge. I'm the U.S. liaison to the International Joint Commission. On the issues of the Ceders and Bohondrioux, it's worth remembering that those are outside of the scope of this study because the International Joint Commission just has authority over the international stretches of the water, or those parts within either country that can impact the other country.
Ceders and Bohondrioux are within Canada, and downstream from the United States. Obviously what happens there does impact people further up. That is totally within the authority of Quebec and whatever national authorities have responsibility for that, but not within the scope of the IJC.
MR. TRIPOLI: We have another comment from John Osynski.
MR. OSYNSKI: The operation of Iroquois and its use for spilling excess water became an issue. We just went through the licensing of our part of the project, the Moses Dam, and during the course of that, those deliberations, the issue of water being spilled through Lonsioux and the effects that it had on the south channel became a major deal.
John mentioned that there has to be reports made when Lonsioux spills. We have to provide notice to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. We have to monitor the flows, and we have to keep track of the temperature of the water going through there. It's not a desirable operation because when the water is going through Lonsioux, you're spilling, you're not generating any power.
So, you know, it doesn't happen very often. I think over the period of time that the projects have been in operation, the total amount of water that's been spilled at the international project is probably something in the order of 5% or less.
MS. LAWN: We're coming near the end. Are there any final questions? One more final question from Gananoque? Oh, Marc Hudon.
MR. HUDON: Yeah. In regards to Hydro Quebec, I just want to assure you that it's a money making machine. It hates spilling water. Now, I'm aware they do some spilling but it's to assist the municipality in opening the public beaches. And there's a lot of requests for that sometimes in the summer months, so Hydro tries to accommodate them, but they hate it. And as far as spilling, the Seaway is a good spilling channel too.
MS. LAWN: Thanks, Marc. Well, Andre wishes to make a point, and this will be I think the last point, but I've also been assured that there are people, the experts and folks are not going to run away right after the meeting and that if any of you want to stay and have a chat with them it would be great.
Anyone really interested in the comments about modeling could talk to Wendy and she could explain it in plain language that it will be a good thing. So don't run away. Andre?
MR. CARPENTIER: Yes. I just want to make a comment about the concern of Mr. Regan saying that, you know, Hydro Quebec is spilling water at Bohondrioux and Lesic.
As Marc Hudon mentioned, I don't think they like to do that and they don't do that, except if the flow it is very, very high. And what I mean very high, is more than just flowing right now. -- some time as, you know, 15 minutes or 30 minutes, I don't know what -- I don't want that people listening tonight either in Gananoque or Oswego wants to go out and said, Hydro Quebec is spilling water at Bohondrioux and Lesic. I don't think that's the situation right now and the month before and the months are coming.
They are using the water as, you know, New York Power and Ontario Power generation are using that and Moses Saunders in Massena and Cornwall. So, I just want to make this point. I doubt that Hydro Quebec is spilling water right now in summer and in other seasons.
MS. LAWN: Thanks, Andre. So these are the ends of the question and answer, and I'm not sure who gets the last word here. I guess the chairperson does, Paul Webb. And I'd like to thank everybody also for the wonderfully civil way that the questions were asked and answered. You were all concise and it was great.
MR. TRIPOLI: Thank you, Gananoque and I guess we'll sign off.
(Phone conference with Gananoque, Ontario, Canada was terminated at this point.)
MR. TRIPOLI: Paul, thank you. From what you've heard this evening, I'm sure you are all well aware that the system is complex. I hope you have a little better understanding of how it works, and with all the information that the technical working groups are gathering, we know we can't please all the people all the time, but we're trying to make sure, you know, that proper inputs are being put into the model.
However, if the study and the decisions made are fair and transparent and all stakeholders' interests are being taken into account, I think we'll be able to come up with a regulation plan that will help most of the people most of the time without hurting any group disproportionately.
We want to come back to see you next summer to show you tentative regulation plans and get your feedback on those plans. We look forward to those meetings. In the meantime, you have the material that you picked up in the table on your way in, which includes the website for the study, so feel free to stay in touch, and if you did not turn in your sign-in card on the way in, please do so as you leave, and if at any point you think of someone or you meet someone who would be interested in information about the study, please pass on our contact information to them.
You're welcome to stay and talk to any of the study experts that are here and talk to Bill Werick about the plan formulation, how that will work, and thank you very much for coming.