BURLINGTON — A joint U.S.-Canadian study group says there is an urgent need to spend about $14 million to study floodplain planning and forecasting in the Lake Champlain basin.
Flooding of the lake and Richelieu River in 2011 caused tens of millions of dollars in damage in Vermont, New York and Quebec and prompted the International Joint Commission to study practical and affordable preventive measures.
In a 140-page report issued Monday, the group called for creating a five-year plan to overcome what the commission called a “basin-wide governance gap,” according to the Burlington Free Press. Not doing so would result in even costlier recovery measures, the commission said.
The commission’s recommendations include accelerating the development of new modeling systems to help with flood forecasting and improving measures that slow the flow of water into the lake and river. It also said key water monitoring stations should continue to operate, an older plan to build a flood-control dam at St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu should be re-examined and a study board should be created to oversee those efforts.
The commission also urged local governments to take the lead in flood mitigation.
“While the Work Group recommends that flood plain management and best practices be examined again and that flood plain mapping be updated, local governments have sufficient authority and understanding to make strides in this area immediately, and they should take action,” the commission wrote.
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.
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