Long-Term Lake Champlain River Study Proposed

Mon March 11, 2013 - Northeast Edition

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) An organization that oversees inland waters shared by the United States and Canada is considering a long-term study to look for ways to reduce future flooding in Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River, which drains the lake north into Quebec.

A draft of the study released Feb. 21 recommended a five-year, $10 million to $14 million examination of the history of flooding and assess flood-plain management practices.

The study also would examine the possible construction of a gated structure to control floodwaters along the Richelieu and the dredging of a shoal in St. Jean Sur Richelieu, Quebec.

The International Lake Champlain-Richelieu River Plan of Study Workgroup is seeking public input and is planning a March 11 meeting in Burlington and March 12 in St. Jean Sur Richelieu.

Once the initial study is completed it will be submitted to the five members of the International Joint Commission, which will decide whether to proceed with the study, said Stephanie Castle, the U.S. co-secretary of the workgroup.

“We have to come up with a cohesive plan across the international border that protects people and protects property and also protects the environment,’’ Castle said.

The International Joint Commission is an offshoot of a 1909 treaty between Canada and the United States designed to prevent and resolve disputes over waters shared between the two countries. Its decisions take into account the needs of a wide range of water uses, including drinking water, commercial shipping, hydroelectric power generation, agriculture, industry, fishing, recreational boating and shoreline property. It has two Canadian members and three U.S. members.

The commission created the workgroup to determine what studies were needed to evaluate the causes and impacts of the flooding in the lake and river and determine what studies were needed to develop flood mitigation measures and recommendations.

The draft also suggested two less thorough, less expensive options but ultimately recommended the most detailed analysis.

Castle said it could be a year or two before the commission decides which option to pursue as well as seek funding.

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