In the first part of this series I dealt with the implementation of Plan 2014 and its claimed non-causation by the IJC (International Joint Commission) and others as the genesis of the 2017 flooding on the shorelines of Lake Ontario costing residents, businesses and municipalities hundreds of millions of dollars.
Mother Nature was clearly the cause, was the message doled out!
Those with some knowledge of Plan 2014 or curiosity about its potential effects however wanted more information. Some of those seeking more information emanated in New York State and resulted in a “New York Senate Hearing” on October 10, 2017. It is a bit disconcerting when examining some of the testimony from those who played a role in developing the plan. As one example; Bill Werick, a member of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Adaptive Management Committee was asked: “Do you believe the trigger level* is set too high, given what’s happened this past year?” His response included the following: “the fact is, is that, as Mr. Durrett said, our forecasts for one month out are really not very skilful.”
The real damning testimony in respect to Plan 2014 came from Frank Sciremammano, Jr., Ph.D., P.E. Professor (retired) of Engineering, Rochester Institute of Technology and International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board. Mr. Sciremammano after describing his involvement in the development of three alternate plans stated: “Plan 2014 is not one of the recommended plans from the IJC study, and, in fact, it violates three of the principal guidelines of that study.”
Later in his testimony he stated: “the IJC withdrew its proposal, and formed a new secret working group of representatives only. They worked in secret. Nobody knew who was on the committee. Nobody knew when they met. No minutes. No freedom of information. After a while they came out with a new version of Plan B+, which they recommended, which was termed “Bv7” for Plan B, ** Version 7.”
And he further testified: “After some further secret negotiations, the working group came up with Plan 2014, which is just Plan Bv7, but with a slight modification to add trigger levels.”
As noted in my first instalment, Plan 2014 was supposedly aimed at reversing “some of the harm” to shoreline wetlands by allowing higher water levels that would flood them and reverse the “harm”! Interestingly enough, the IISD (International Institute for Sustainable Development), self-described as an independent think tank championing sustainable solution to 21st century problems and funded via grants from the Federal Government ($7.8 million in 2018), UN agencies, etc. conducted a study to determine how flooding affected emissions of carbon dioxide and methane. Their conclusion: “We found that both carbon dioxide and methane, an especially potent greenhouse gas, were produced in higher levels after flooding, suggesting that reservoirs can be sources of GHGs.”
Their review also found “reservoirs should be designed to maximize flooding in areas with thin soils and little vegetation and to minimize flooding in areas with large stores of carbon, such as wetlands. “***
What the foregoing suggests is the issues and harm causing “climate change” are far from being settled despite the billions of tax dollars directed to and spent by those who profess to be experts. The question arising out of the conflict raised by the IISD report and Plan 2014 should be worrying as the latter has cost shoreline residents, businesses and municipalities of Lake Ontario shorelines hundreds of millions of dollars. It was done in an effort to reverse “harm” as defined by those who developed Plan “Bv7” identified by Mr. Sciremammano in his testimony to the Senate Hearing.
The flooding that occurred in 2017 and its repeat in 2019 raised the ire of city, town and community politicians in many shoreline communities in both New York and Ontario. They are demanding abandonment of Plan 2014 and compensation for costs incurred by their residents, businesses and communities. New York State Governor Cuomo wrote a June 8 2019 letter to the IJC and in it he states: “The IJC was put on notice in 2017 when the Lake set high-water level records and should have been aware of the present danger from the massive snowpack and likelihood of continued rains into the spring of this year. Yet, rather than acting, the IJC continued the status quo, resulting in more flooding and more property damage in New York. We demand that the IJC make New York whole for its millions in unreimbursed expenditures, and that the IJC modify its water management and planning to reduce the flooding and damage being done to New York’s shoreline communities.”
One wonders if Governor Cuomo was aware of Bill Werick’s answer to a question about the “trigger level” and his response was: “the fact is, is that, as Mr. Durrett said, our forecasts for one month out are really not very skilful.“
Perhaps it’s time to become more skilful and that applies to those appointed to manage the system. Governor Cuomo’s letter in the case of Canada was directed to our recently appointed Canadian Chair of the IJC, The Honorable Merrell-Ann Phare. Ms. Phare holds a Master of Laws (LL.M.) Aboriginal Water Rights and International Trade Law and appears to reside in Winnipeg. While I am sure she is competent it seems strange that her skill sets don’t align with what one would expect as the Co-Chair of the IJC.
On the issue of the IJC and the 2019 floods, their Public Interest Advisory Group (PIAG) now have a survey available on their website (not in an obvious place) which asks questions about high and low water levels, damage to shorelines, recreational boating and the environment and wetlands. Personal encounters by the author with shoreline businesses, residential property owners and local politicians indicated (to the writer) they were unaware of the survey.
One has to wonder, was posting of the survey’s intent to seek feedback or to suggest they were actually concerned about the two 1-in-100-year flood events in the three years since “Plan 2014” was enacted?
Next in the series I will look at shoreline harm and expressions of dissent by those affected.
*The “trigger level” refers to when water should be allowed to flow or be retained.
**Plan B was the environmental plan aimed at maximizing the environmental benefits.
***A flavor of the IISD study? The 2017 floods killed 7 trees on our property–former carbon sinks.