Feds find problems with Plan 2014

Feds find problems with Plan 2014
File photo of ship upbound on the St. Lawrence Seaway. (Source: WWNY)

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The federal government’s watchdog agency has found problems with the way’Plan 2014′ - which regulates water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River - is talked about.

The International Joint Commission (IJC) is in charge of making sure water levels are neither too high nor too low. Plan 2014 is the blue print for doing that, but has been widely blamed for the flooding of 2017 and 2019.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) studied Plan 2014 and concludes, in a report released Thursday, that the IJC should do a better job of explaining what it’s doing.

The GAO interviewed people affected by the plan, people they call “stakeholders.”

The watch dog agency found that a majority of the stakeholders said the IJC doesn’t share enough information, and some stakeholders said the IJC didn’t tell them how its decisions will affect them.

Some stakeholders also said the IJC didn’t listen to their concerns.

One stakeholder “told us the Board appeared to lack empathy when residents told them about the impacts they were experiencing from high water levels on the lake and river that they believe were caused in part by Plan 2014.”

And seven stakeholders said they don’t believe Plan 2014 allows the International Joint Commission to act before water conditions turns bad.

The GAO reports notes the International Joint Commission has already started to make changes, and recommends the IJC on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border, work on “best practices” for communicating with the people and organizations affected by water levels; it also recommends the IJC continue to develop “adaptive management” of Plan 2014.

(‘Adaptive management,' in plain English, means deviating from Plan 2014 when conditions warrant.)

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