Save The River asks for increased outflows and alternating shipping

Updated: Jul. 18, 2019 at 11:18 AM EDT
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CLAYTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - Save The River is asking for St. Lawrence Seaway shipping to be closed for several days at a time so more water can be released from the Moses-Saunders Power Dam in Massena.

The conservation group is asking the International Joint Commission to increase outflows to at least 11,500 cubic meters per second for several days at a time, higher than would be considered safe for shipping.

Save The River suggested “patterning,” which would alternate between closing shipping for several days and opening the Seaway back up to shipping for several days.

“You look out here and you see the ships going back and forth, and the feeling is they’re not sharing in the burden. I know that all of our owners, property owners, business owners here, they’re suffering too and they need some relief, and the only way they’re going to get relief right now is to get the water level down,” said executive director John Peach.

The International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board, which regulates water levels on behalf of the IJC, decided earlier this month to hold outflows at a record 10,400 cubic meters per second.

The board said at the time that it would cost $50 million a day to close shipping.

In a letter to IJC commissioner Jane Corwin, each says people “along the River and Lake have endured enough during this historic flooding, and it is time that shipping shoulders some of the burden felt by property owners.”

The organization reiterates its support for Plan 2014 -- the current blueprint for regulating water levels -- but encourages the IJC to start reviewing it as soon as possible.

Save The River is also asking the IJC to release information that shows how 2019 water levels would have fared under Plan 1958 DD.

IJC critics have demanded that the IJC return to Plan 1958 DD, which was replaced by Plan 2014.

The IJC has said the difference between the two plans would have made a difference of at most a few inches.

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