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August 13, 2012

Efforts to look at solutions to Lake Champlain funding begin

International panelmeets to study disaster

NORTH HERO, Vt. — The decision on what should be done to reduce or prevent the impact of Lake Champlain flooding began in earnest with a pair of public meetings.

More than 50 people gathered at the first session, held recently in Quebec and hosted by a task force studying the impact of the spring 2011 floods on Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River.

Then, a second public session was held the next evening at the North Hero, Vt. Community Hall with about 20 in attendance.

“Our charge is to develop a plan of study to address specific issues (related to Lake Champlain flooding) and to identify what kinds of studies are necessary to eradicate the cause of spring floods,” said Jennifer Thalhauser, a New York representative for the work group and project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

WHY A STUDY?

The work group, created by the International Joint Commission that oversees water-related issues between the United States and Canada, includes regional representatives from agencies

in New York, Vermont and Quebec. It will not make recommendations for alleviating flood-related problems in the basin nor will it carry out any actions to offset the causes of flooding, Thalhauser noted.

She said the most consistent question at the Quebec session was: “Why is there a need for a plan of study?”  

“We feel that it is essential in taking a more holistic approach to what happened in 2011.”

BUILDING A FRAMEWORK

The spring floods of 2011 broke all-time lake levels as Lake Champlain topped 103 feet. The extent of the flooding along its shores and along the Richelieu was compounded by the its duration, as high water levels remained for six weeks or more.

The combination of a large snow pack in the Adirondack and Green mountains, extensive rain during and following the snowmelt and human-made changes to the flow of the Richelieu River were all pegged as contributing factors.

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