ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) – Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a letter to the International Joint Commission on Saturday demanding immediate action in response to the ongoing flooding issues along the Lake Ontario shoreline.
The IJC is the U.S. – Canadian body that can help regulate lake levels by affecting the amount of water flowing out of Lake Ontario through a dam on the St. Lawrence Seaway.
In his letter Cuomo noted that for the second time in three years, a number of communities and businesses along the lake had flooding issues due to record-high water levels. Cuomo says that New York state committed more than $100 million in funds to repair shoreline properties in 2017 and has spent tens of millions more to respond to flooding this year. Cuomo says that the IJC “has no excuse for its failure to prepare for adequately managing the high-water levels Lake Ontario has experienced and continues to experience this year.”
Cuomo says the IJC was put on notice in 2017 and should have been more proactive in dealing with the danger from the snowpack and expected rains.
Cuomo demands that the IJC “make New York whole for its millions in unreimbursed expenditures, and that the IJC modify its water management and planning to reduce the flooding and damage being done to New York’s shoreline communities.”
Cuomo says that the state expects the cost associated with rebuilding and providing resilience against future flooding will be well over $100 million. He also urges the appropriation of federal aid to help those efforts.
Cuomo says that failure to act upon the demands he outlines in his letter, “will result in New York taking any and all actions to compel the IJC to act, including legal action.”
Also on Saturday, New York’s two U.S. Senators, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand called on the Army Corps of Engineers to approve two projects that they say would help New York communities devastated by Lake Ontario flooding.
The senators want the Army Corps to initiate a new project for the Town of Greece that would construct emergency flood protection for Edgemere Drive.
Schumer and Gillibrand are also calling on the Army Corps to approve the cost-sharing agreement for a project in Youngstown to help prevent erosion at Fort Niagara State Park.
The National Weather Service has issued a Lakeshore Flood Warning for counties along the lakeshore from late Monday through Tuesday. The weather service says that the combination of record high lake levels and moderately strong west to northwest winds will result in greater wave action and an increase in lakeshore flooding on the shoreline of Lake Ontario.