March 5, 2013

Editorial: Local input on watershed study

The International Lake Champlain/Richelieu River Work Group has righted an oversight that snubbed New York, and we now encourage people on this side of the lake to turn out and voice their opinions.

Everyone in Clinton and Essex counties surely remembers the damaging flooding along Lake Champlain in the spring of 2011. At that time, concern was voiced about whether the conditions on the Richelieu River might have contributed to that destructive situation.

So, the United States and Canada asked the International Joint Commission to plan a study of the causes and impact of flooding in the river and lake watersheds and how it could be prevented or mitigated.

Lake Champlain flooding is far more than an inconvenience — the economic impact on businesses and homes along its coveted shoreline was brought into sharp focus in spring 2011. That flooding broke all-time lake levels, with Lake Champlain topping 103 feet, and the water remained high for more than six weeks.

The Work Group has developed a draft plan, which you can read at

The next step is to gather public input. The International Joint Commission and the Work Group set up meetings so people could hear about the plan, ask questions and provide feedback.

The meetings were to be held at ECHO in Burlington and at Hotel Relais Gouverneur in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. The Work Group will use comments received at the meetings and by mail to develop a final plan to submit to the International Joint Commission.

As soon as the news release about the public meetings arrived, the Press-Republican saw a big gap: Where was a New York meeting?

An Editorial Board had already been set up with Dede Scozzafava, one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s representatives, so we asked her whether she could check into the possibility of a meeting on this side of Lake Champlain.

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