by Jeremy Moule
This week, the International Joint Commission, which handles issues involving water bodies located in both the United States and Canada, has been holding meetings in Washington, D.C. Previously, environmental groups had publicly urged the commission to move its proposed water levels plan, Bv7, forward by setting public hearings.
While not all of the meetings are finished, that request probably won't be met.
"While discussion of Plan Bv7 is ongoing, I don’t believe that the IJC will schedule public hearings this week," Frank Bevacqua, a spokesperson for the IJC, said in a e-mail.
The IJC has used the same lake levels management plan since 1963, according to its website. But the plan doesn't take environmental factors into account, and doesn't account for climate change's influence on water levels. Environmental groups back the Bv7 proposal because it'd restore some natural variability to Lake Ontario water levels, which would benefit coastal habitats, particularly wetlands, they say.
The plan is controversial, as were previous attempts to revise it. Lakeshore property owners have been the most vocal opponents, though many elected officials have also expressed concerns about or opposition to the plan. Opponents say the plan could lead to conditions that would ultimately cause a loss of property. But the IJC and plan proponents dispute those claims.