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March 14, 2013

Still time to weigh in on flood-study options

PLATTSBURGH — With a final recommendation looming, area residents still have time to weigh in on three proposals to study the Lake Champlain and Richelieu River watershed.

It has been almost two years since damaging spring flooding sent water gushing over the shores of Lake Champlain and its tributaries, destroying thousands of homes across New York, Vermont and Quebec and leaving millions of dollars of destruction in its wake.

The widespread devastation of the 2011 thaw prompted U.S. and Canadian governments to request an International Joint Commission recommendation for a comprehensive study about the impact of rising waters in the watershed and an evaluation of possible mitigation efforts and a cost-benefit analysis.

THREE OPTIONS

The request led to the formation of the International Lake Champlain Richelieu River Work Group, whose members have since spent about a year collaborating with more than 100 experts during a series of workshops and public forums.

They have created three study options to evaluate the causes and impact of past floods, particularly the historic 2011 event; possible flood mitigation measures for the watershed; and the need for real-time flood inundation mapping to help during future events.

With the group’s final recommendation to the International Joint Commission approaching, members of the group once again met with residents across international and state lines to get additional public input on their draft plan of study.

PREVIOUS STUDIES

“We’ve been working very hard to create this plan of study ... and we are near the end of finalizing this document,” Work Group Co-chair Jenifer Thalhauser told New York and Vermont residents this week during a joint meeting on the study options.

She said the draft of study, which is near completion, took into consideration the Joint Commission’s directive, expert input and feedback from residents who turned out for a series of public forums in Vermont and Canada last August.

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