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Study Group Issues Report on Flood Mitigation

Lake Champlain flooding May 2011
Vermont Governor's Office

A U.S.-Canadian study group has delivered its flood mitigation recommendations for the Lake Champlain and Richelieu River basin following record flooding in 2011.

In the spring of 2011, Lake Champlain waters exceeded flood stage on April 13th,  and remained above flood stage for 67 days. During that time, waters rose to a record level of 103.27 feet. Lake Champlain flows north into the Richelieu River. The flooding damaged more than 4,000 homes and created tens of millions of dollars in damage in Vermont, New York and Quebec.

In March of 2012, the governments of Canada and the U.S. asked the International Joint Commission to draft a report on the causes and impacts of the 2011 flooding and develop mitigation measures.
The International Lake Champlain-Richelieu River Work Group issued its final report Monday. It offers three options costing between 5 million and 14 million dollars, taking three to five years to implement. The report states that “...there is a basin wide governance gap with respect to flood preparedness and coordination among jurisdictions, basin wide...”and “...Governments at all levels need to promote a culture of flood preparedness and flood resiliency.”

Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department Fisheries Biologist Brian Chipman is a member of the International work group that developed the plan of study.

Chipman admits that funding will be a key challenge, but other initiatives could be acted upon immediately.

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.

Lake Champlain Committee Staff Scientist Mike Winslow notes that while some things in the report can be done, not everything the work group put forward needs to be done.

Winslow says there are some practical ideas included in the report, including preventing development along the lakeshore.

The International Joint Commission was created by treaty in 1909 to prevent and resolve disputes over shared waterways.  It also oversees projects that affect the natural levels and flows of boundary waters.

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