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Save the River: More than 600 pro-Bv7 telegrams headed to Gov. Cuomo’s office

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CLAYTON — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo may be in for a surprise as nearly 700 old-fashioned telegrams from environmental advocates, business owners and concerned citizens are headed his way.

Save the River, Clayton, and Citizens Campaign for the Environment coordinated the telegram drive to demonstrate how outdated they believe the regulation plan for the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system is.

D. Lee Willbanks, Save the River’s executive director, said 595 telegrams were delivered to the governor’s office Monday morning and about 100 more are on their way.

In a joint news release, the groups again urged Gov. Cuomo to take a stance and support Plan Bv7 — a new water regulation proposal by the International Joint Commission that could replace the existing, half-century-old management plan.

“Our communities know that Bv7 is a better solution, but we can’t seem to get through to the governor using today’s technologies, so we’re trying 50-year-old technology,” Mr. Willbanks said in the news release. “Hopefully, we won’t have to resort to singing telegrams next ... or Morse code!”

Mr. Willbanks said Monday afternoon that while he does feel sorry for Gov. Cuomo’s staffers who must open his mail, Bv7 supporters are hoping to get the state leader’s attention through the effort.

Last month, Save the River and other conservation groups together submitted 9,170 letters and petition signatures supporting Bv7 to Gov. Cuomo’s office.

Opposing any change to how the lake and river water levels are regulated are mainly waterfront property owners along the lake’s southern shore, who fear an increased risk of flooding that would cause property damage and possibly lead to municipal sewage system failures.

Advocates, on the other hand, praise Bv7 as a modern plan that finally takes into consideration not only climate change but also environmental and recreational boating interests neglected under the original management plan.

Bv7 is the IJC’s more balanced variant of an “environmentally friendly” water regulation proposal that mimics natural flows to restore wetlands and extend the recreational boating season.

“It’s an economic development issue as much as an environmental issue,” Mr. Willbanks said.

“If we don’t have a healthy ecosystem here, we don’t have an economy.”

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