Many view IJC at least partly to blame for the flooding; others blame the heavy rain
State, federal and local officials—fueled by heavy flooding and property damage this spring—have ramped up efforts to get the U.S. government to change the policies that currently regulate Lake Ontario water levels.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, over the weekend in Greece added fuel to that effort, saying: “There’s no doubt that the IJC blew it…I don’t even see how you can debate that.”
The water in Lake Ontario is some 31 inches higher than it was this time last year, the governor’s office said.
The International Joint Commission last December signed an updated order of approval for the regulation of water levels and flows in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. The approval came after 14 years of scientific study and public engagement, and advanced Plan 2014 as the preferred option for regulating Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River water levels and flows, the IJC said at the time.
This week’s RBJ Snap Poll asked readers whether they support a repeal of Plan 2014. Nearly 60 percent of poll participants support repeal.
The approval of Plan 2014 also followed opposition, coming chiefly from communities along the southern shore of the lake including the Rochester area. That many of those same areas have been hit hard by flooding this spring has enhanced the fervor of their opposition to the plan, despite the IJC’s—and others—contention that the heavy rain, not the plan, is the reason for the flooding.
Plan 2014 provided a new plan for determining the flows through the Moses-Saunders Dam on the St. Lawrence River between Cornwall, Ontario and Massena, St. Lawrence County. The updated order replaces an outdated system of regulating flows developed in the 1950s.
The plan is designed to provide for more natural variation of water levels of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River that are needed to restore ecosystem health, the IJC and plan proponents say. It continues to moderate extreme high and low levels, better maintain systemwide levels for navigation, frequently extend the recreational boating season and slightly increase hydropower production, the IJC said.
The town of Greece has launched an online petition calling for “relief from the stipulations in IJC Plan 2014.”
More than 400 people participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted May 30 and 31.
Do you support or oppose efforts to push the U.S. to repeal Plan 2014 that governs levels on Lake Ontario?
This is an economic impact disaster, as well as a blow to the quality of life in Rochester. Not only are individual properties damaged, but businesses, which may never recover, are also hurt and their employees are out of a job. Organizations like the Rochester Yacht Club and the Genesee Yacht Club are virtually out of business, only hanging on by the support of members who look forward to a short boating season. A repeal is needed, and would come too late for many.
—Louise Woerner, CEO, HCR Home Care
The government is destroying people’s homes in order to placate a left-wing special interest. The affected residents deserve compensation for what the government has done to them.
Reality: most of what has happened this year is related to the 100-year flood conditions created by massive rainfall and our symbiotic relationship with our Canadian brethren. Am I glad that we’re losing shoreline? No, of course not and yes this impacts me personally. However, to say the plan, based on science, is at fault, is to take the tack of many modern voters: don’t confuse me with facts, this is what I believe! Perhaps an error was made in letting water out earlier in the year; however, that is not the plan’s fault, that is the implementation that’s at fault. People seem to need something to blame, let’s choose that.
I have lived on Edgemere Drive over 40 years. The IJC is 100 percent responsible for the flooding, damage, closed business and loss of jobs. The IJC held back too much water in December. The IJC didn’t take into account the spring rains and runoff. The lake should have been at 243 to 244 feet in December, not 246. If it was at 244, it would be at 247 now, not 249! The lake wasn’t created by nature to hold water at 249! The IJC should be fired! Come on President Trump, fire those idiots!
—Doug Dobson, president, Crescent Beach Neighborhood Association
Is there anyone that actually knows for sure what caused the problem? Plan 2014 or the unusual, heavy rains? When they figure that out, then we can perhaps support or oppose the plan.
—Ed Rosen, Fairport
Actually, I am more undecided and oppose repeal until a fact determination is made. At this time, most experts say the flooding is not because of Plan 2014. If reasonable and scientific investigation can establish that the flooding is due to Plan 2014, then I would support repeal. This is a “fact determination,” and people’s “opinions” do not change the facts as to causation of high lake levels.
—Jim Bertolone, regional president emeritus of the AFL-CIO, retired president APWU, Local 215
Do these people not understand that the flooding would have been just as bad under the previous plan? It didn’t go into effect until January, and at no point after that time is there anything the IJC could have done differently to mitigate the flooding. Not without flooding out Montreal and stopping all shipping on the St. Lawrence River.
The question, as posed, is whether someone supports a policy that is based on years of research, or supports repealing the policy because of one spring of abnormal rainfall. Seems like a silly question. Not only am I opposed to the repeal of Plan 2014, I am opposed to giving state or federal aid to residents who couldn’t be bothered to take out their own flood insurance. If they can’t afford all that goes with living in a flood zone, they should move. Taxpayers shouldn’t have to subsidize them flood after flood.
—Maggie Symington, Brighton
After years of study and effort by environmentalists to allow the lake levels to rise higher and go lower (their words), the proponents got their wish and havoc is happening. The old plan would have had more water discharged in February and March, before flooding occurred.
As with any plan it needs to have some common sense behind it, which it appears this one does not. The ecosystem I am sure can well maintain itself with an elevation of lake levels well below 31 inches. The (IJC) plan should have had provisions for maximum elevation of the lake and what to do in case of seasons such as this. Residents are losing property due to this plan, not to mention restoration costs of which I am sure will not be refunded by the state. As far as providing and extending recreational boating, the opposite effect is happening as the bay is on a no-wake 5 mph limit and docks are flooded. Again, anything government-related, 14 years of taxpayer dollars for a plan that does not work and hurts the taxpayer who funded it without a vote. I will wait for the ecosystem to pay the tax on my land I can no longer utilize.
I continue to support it because it has nothing to do with the flooding. Heavy rains in and around the Great Lakes basin caused the flooding. All of the docks at my marina in Clayton are underwater and the boats cannot be launched. But my island docks are all underwater so I don’t need the boat in any event.
—Dan Mossien, architect
I own property on Lake Ontario. What the IJC does not report is the fact that the lake was 1 foot higher in November and December than normal. Yes, the rain was greater than normal this spring, but that foot would have made a big difference in the flooding. The water is 9 inches above my breakwall—do the math.
We’ve learned that those poor folks cannot depend on the feckless state government whose strength seems to be standing behind a podium, wringing their hands and promising some help soon.
And the princely sum of $7 million comes with yet another visit from the governor. Maybe if those reps stayed in Albany more funds would be available.
The lake level needs to be regulated but property owners have suffered greatly over the flooding caused by this regulation and heavy rains. A better plan needs to be crafted. It should take into account excessive rain conditions as part of a new plan.
Again and again we hear politicians pandering to the taxpayers, saying the new plan has caused this, all without pointing to any evidence that shows that to be factual. I’m particularly disappointed in Chris Collins and our governor. I wrote Rep. Collins after receiving his newsletter asking him how he could determine that Plan 2014 was causing this. He wrote back saying he shares my concerns and that the plan has to go. I don’t believe anyone at his office actually read my email. As to the governor, he had an opportunity to weigh in on Plan 2014 when it was being formulated and stayed out. Sorry governor, that was the time to say something.
Repeal Plan 2014! This is just another example of “big” government trying to inflict its will on the people and nature! And, of course, it’s another prime example of how government, more often than not, gets it wrong! If the lake levels and damage being caused aren’t enough to scare you, think the IIPPC study and the Paris and Kyoto accords! Hopefully President Trump holds his ground and refuses to sign up for such nonsense, rather than follow the other lemmings.
—Keith Robinson, Diamond Packaging
As a lakefront property owner, I know firsthand how devastating nature can be. “Repealing Plan 2014” is meaningless without other management approaches that will ensure levels that minimize damage to lakefront and riverfront properties. No one has come up with an alternative.
—Tom Gillett, NYSUT
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