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Alcoa Massena endorses BV7 water management plan

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MASSENA — Alcoa Massena has formally endorsed the International Joint Commission’s proposed BV7 water regulation plan for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

In a recent letter to Lana Pollack, chairwoman of the IJC’s U.S. section, Alcoa Primary Metals Plant Manager John D. Martin urged the binational body to adopt the environmentally friendly plan that maximizes hydropower production.

“As a major north country employer dependent upon hydropower for our production operations, we have a strong interest in the future of the St. Lawrence River and have closely followed the debate over various water level regulation plans,” Mr. Martin wrote in the May 14 letter. “We concur with others in the north country that it is imperative a plan be adopted by the International Joint Commission that takes into account environmental considerations and the concerns of the public, while at the same time maximizing hydropower production.”

The aluminum maker’s endorsement does not come as a surprise as Alcoa had also endorsed IJC’s proposed Plan B+, a 2006 plan that was expected to reverse the damage done to the region’s ecosystem with the construction of the Moses-Saunders hydroelectric dam in Massena.

While the newly proposed BV7 — or version 7 of the “environmentally friendly” Plan B+ — brings similar benefits by mimicking the natural rise and fall of the lake and river, IJC calls it a more “balanced approach” that minimizes the impact to shoreline property owners and provides “dependable flow” for hydropower.

“As you recognize, all three of these issues — environmental considerations, public concerns regarding recreational uses and hydropower — are closely linked to the economy of this region,” Mr. Martin wrote. “A St. Lawrence River water level management plan should clearly address these concerns in consideration of the economic future of the north country. We fully support a water levels management plan that takes these three issues into account.”

IJC plans to decide whether to replace the existing, half-century-old water management plan with BV7 as soon as the end of this year or early in 2013.

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