WNY Outdoors Blog

Monday, February 13, 2012

Lake Ontario Land

February 11, 2012

Losing land to Lake Ontario  

Wilson — Land owners along Lake Ontario are concerned about a potential International Joint Commission plan which may allow water levels to reach higher highs and lower lows.

Bill Eaton, who lives on Lake Road in Wilson, said he lost 50 feet in the 48 years he’s lived on the property. “I know we’ll lose more land,” he said. “The taxes keep going up and my lot gets smaller.”

It’s a common complaint for property owners along the lake.

The Eatons once had a beach and a boat launch in their backyard. Now they have a view of the lake crashing into the bank.

Wilson Town Supervisor Joseph Jastrzemski, who bought property on the lake last year, said a previous owner had to move the boat house up the cliff and use it as a garage.

The IJC gathered stakeholders in 2008 to discuss lake levels. There was a push for the so-called B-Plus plan, which was somewhat of a compromise between environmentalists and interested parties along the southern border of the great lake.

The 2008 plan, championed by environmentalists, had a broad base of support, according to IJC public affairs officer Frank Bevacqua.

Local governments, yacht clubs and marinas up and down the lake to the St. Lawrence River were opposed. The main impact is to coastal wetlands.

The joint commission was established by the United States and Canada in 1909 to try to prevent or resolve disputes. A new proposal would have lake levels closer to the natural seasonal flows before the construction of the St. Lawrence Power Project and St. Lawrence Seaway in the 1950s.

According to Jastrzemski, supervisors from Somerset, Wilson, Newfane, Porter and Lewiston will get together on Thursday with state Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane. “They (IJC) proposed it a few years back, and we were able to get support from legislative leaders to keep it from happening,” Jastrzemski said. “We have to formulate strategy to get some relief.”

In 2008, the IOC proposed three plans after a five-year study. The new plan to manage the water levels and flows is called “BV7.”

It was reported that the IJC would conduct meetings in March, which concerned locals who are away for the season. However, according to Bevacqua, meetings will not take place for about four months.

“We’re encouraging everyone to become informed,” Bevacqua said this week. “Erosion is a very complicated topic. It depends on specific sites on shore line. ... There’s a lot more at play than the regulation plan. The new plan would not have increased impact due to erosion.”

According to Bevacqua, lake levels are not completely controlled at the St. Lawrence Seaway. Water levels are determined more by natural factors than human control, he said.

The power plant spans the U.S.-Canadian border at Massena. The U.S. portion is the St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project. On the Canadian side, it’s the Robert H. Saunders Generating Station.

“Anybody and everybody on this side of Lake Ontario is against it because of the erosion it’s creating on our shorelines,” Jastrzemski said. “Everyone along the Lake Ontario shoreline is affected. The wave action is pounding against the shorelines and washing our shores away.”

Before any decision is made, the IJC will have a formal proposal and hold public hearings. The IJC has invited concerned residents to visit: http://ijc.org/loslr/en/index.php

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