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Environment & Energy

New Plan Would Allow Water Levels on Lake Ontario to Fluctuate More Widely

photo of the Moses Saunders Dam from the American side
Panoramic shot of the Moses Saunders Dam from the American side

Water levels in Lake Ontario have been regulated since the 1950s, and a new plan was announced Thursday. Not everyone is happy about it.


The plan is called Plan 2014, and it's designed to create more fluctuation between the lake's highs and lows. As water levels go up and down, coastal wetlands will flood and dry out more frequently. 

This mimics the natural state of the lake, which is important, according to Doug Wilcox. He's a professor of Wetland Studies at the College of Brockport in New York.
"It's this process that maintains the diversity of wetland plant communities, but also the diversity of habitat for a whole variety of fish and wildlife species."
Plan 2014 will also increase the productivity of the Moses-Saunders Power Dam, and aid the shipping industry. But homeowners along the south shore of Lake Ontario worry about their property eroding.
Dan Barletta owns lakefront land in Greece, New York. He says it’s not fair to change the regulations.
"People put money in based on the current regulation plans, and that's private property."
Lana Pollack is the U.S. Chair of the International Joint Commission, which put forward the plan. She says they hear the concerns of homeowners, but this plan is the best possible compromise. 
"It's hard to give 100 percent to any particular interest when there are competing interests involved."
Plan 2014 will be implemented in January. 

Great Lakes Today is a collaboration of WBFO Buffalo, ideastream Cleveland and WXXI Rochester.