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All parties have had voice in water levels issue

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When I read in the Watertown Daily Times on Aug. 20 the article titled “IJC’s public comment period for new lake-river regulation plan ends,” my jaw dropped at James Jerome’s statements.

He states “they [IJC] never included us in the process. It’s almost criminal that we were kept in the dark about this. Our officials were not included in the talks.”

Perhaps Mr. Jerome is new to the water levels issue. Or maybe he’s been involved so long that he’s simply forgotten about the lengthy public involvement process and research effort that the IJC convened in 1999. (Granted, this process has dragged on so long it is plausible to forget!)

Stakeholders from all impacted user groups — from residents representing the Thousand Islands and the South Shore to representatives from a variety industry, environmental, scientific and community organizations — were included in a myriad of research and public advisory committees. The IJC has held numerous comment periods and consultation meetings over the past decade, carefully soliciting feedback from stakeholders far and wide.

How in the world can Mr. Jerome accurately say that officials representing the Lake Ontario shoreline were “not included”? His remarks are deliberately misleading and false.

Yes, it is true that under Plan 2014 benefits for some stakeholders, including a small number of property owners along Lake Ontario, will be reduced. In my opinion, it’s a small price to pay for a thriving Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River ecosystem that provides the economic base for our upstate New York economy.

It is entirely appropriate to debate whether or not those Lake Ontario property owners — who built on land that will erode no matter what water levels plan is in place — should be asked to pay more for maintaining their shoreline structures in exchange for a healthier lake and river. But to suggest that the IJC has not included the public in this debate is deceitful and intended to obscure the facts about Plan 2014.

From my perspective, the time for consultation has run its course. The entire region has been in limbo for more than a decade, operating under an outdated and ineffective plan for managing water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. It’s time for the IJC to make a decision so that we can all move on.

Jennifer J. Caddick

Clayton

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