The International Joint Commission has approved a plan that will allow greater variation in the water levels of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Signed in December, the controversial order is a major win for environmentalists, but many others believe its impact will be devastating.

Plan 2014 is the culmination of more than 16 years of research, public engagement, and governmental review. Beginning in January, the IJC will educate its board to make sure all flows through the project align with plan standards.

Changes under Plan 2014 include waters rising a bit higher and falling a bit lower than permitted under the terms of the previously regulatory plan. Designed to closely imitate the natural sequence of the body of water, the plan aims to help bring 64,000 acres of wetlands along the shoreline to a healthy state and enhance the local fish and wildlife habitat.

Public Opinion of Plan 2014 Largely Divided

Environmentalists are thrilled about the approval of Plan 2014. Viewed as the largest boost to the natural aquatic ecosystem restoration project in Canada, the World Wildlife Federation-Canada couldn’t be happier about the implementation of this initiative.

“The plan has the potential to be the biggest natural aquatic ecosystem restoration project in Canada, restoring more than 260 sq. km of wetlands, boosting hydropower production, and increasing the resilience of hundreds of kilometres of shoreline in Canada and the Unites States,” said David Miller WWF-Canada president and CEO. “By adjusting water levels to follow a more natural flow, Plan 2014 will protect and enhance wetlands and riverbank areas for the species and communities that depend on them.”

On the other hand, Steve LeRoy, chairman of the Wayne County Board of Supervisors believes Plan 2014 will have a detrimental impact on the local environment. LeRoy, who has been publicly opposed to the plan for years, referred to its approval as a “travesty.”

LeRoy believes the plan will cause mass flooding and dangerous low water conditions that could make it impossible for large boats to depart from Sodus Bay. Many other government officials share LeRoy’s belief that the plan’s approval was a huge mistake.

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