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Environmentalists urge Gov. Cuomo to support IJC’s Bv7 water management proposal

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Conservationists urged Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday to join thousands of citizens who have shown their support for a new Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River management plan over the past several months.

In a joint letter to Gov. Cuomo, four conservation groups — Save the River, Clayton; the Nature Conservancy; Audubon New York, and Citizens Campaign for the Environment — asked the governor to support Plan Bv7, a water regulation proposal by the International Joint Commission that could replace the existing half-century-old management plan.

“Expressions of support for Plan Bv7 from Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River community have more than quadrupled since July 2012,” they said. “Much of the new support for Plan Bv7 came from the south shore of Lake Ontario.”

So far, the groups gathered a total of 9,170 letters and petition signatures supporting Bv7 — an additional 7,000 “expressions” since July.

The lake’s south shore has been where most of the complaints have been coming from because of the increased the risk of erosion under Bv7.

At a panel discussion on the topic Saturday in Clayton, Sodus Point Mayor Christopher Tertinek argued that higher water levels allowed under Bv7 would flood waterfront properties and cause the village’s sewer infrastructure to fail.

In an economic impact study, IJC estimated an additional $3 million per year in shore protection cost to coastal residents under the new management plan.

But advocates argue that Bv7 is a balanced plan that finally takes into consideration environmental and recreational boating interests neglected under the original management plan.

“Plan Bv7 will replace over 50 years of water level management that has significantly altered the Lake and River’s natural processes and dramatically reduced habitat diversity,” environmental advocates said in their letter to Gov. Cuomo.

“Plan Bv7 will achieve these benefits through a return to more natural flows. It will provide a longer recreational boating season by avoiding the rapid draw down of the Lake and River in the fall, increase warm-water recreational fishing opportunities, increase hydropower production and lead to conditions that rebuild beaches naturally, all while continuing to provide significant protection to shoreline property owners.”

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