To Prevent Flooding Along Lake Ontario, Reps. Katko, Brindisi, Morelle, and Jacobs Call on IJC to Deviate from Plan 2014

December 10, 2020
Press Release

SYRACUSE, NY— In an effort to mitigate the risk of flooding on Lake Ontario in 2021, U.S. Reps. John Katko (R, NY-24), Anthony Brindisi (D, NY-22), Joseph Morelle (D, NY-25), and Chris Jacbos (R, NY-27) today called on the International Joint Commission (IJC) to deviate from the water management procedures prescribed by Plan 2014. Following the IJC’s implementation of water level management procedures under Plan 2014, Lake Ontario’s southern shore experienced record high water levels and severe flooding in 2017 and 2019.

Throughout the year, water levels on Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, and Lake Erie have exceeded long-term averages, often approaching or surpassing historic highs. As a result of these conditions, Lake Ontario faces the threat of persistent high inflows in 2021, significantly increasing the risks of sustained high-water levels and catastrophic flooding. To mitigate these risks and protect shoreline communities, the lawmakers requested the IJC  immediately authorize the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board (ILOSLRB) to deviate from Plan 2014 water level management procedures through October of 2021.  

In a letter to the International Joint Commission, Reps. Katko, Brindisi, Morelle, and Jacobs wrote, “With communities in our districts still recovering from the devastating conditions experienced in 2017 and 2019, the threat of further damage in 2021 represents an existential threat to coastal communities on Lake Ontario’s southern shore. Given that the IJC and ILOSLRB have previously identified deviations from Plan 2014 as a key factor in mitigating the threat of high-water levels on Lake Ontario in 2020, it is critical that these same strategies be used to address the threat of flooding in 2021. For this reason, we request that the ILOSLRB formally request deviation authority from Plan 2014 during their next meeting, and that the IJC move to swiftly approve such authority.”

The full text of the letter can be found below:

Dear Commissioner Corwin, Commissioner Beland, Chairman Durrett and Chairwoman Béchard,

We write to express our strong support for immediate action by the International Joint Commission (IJC) and International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board (ILOSLRB) to mitigate the risk of flooding on Lake Ontario in 2021. Specifically, we request that the IJC provide the ILOSLRB with authority to deviate from the water level management procedures prescribed by Plan 2014 through October of 2021.

Throughout the year, water levels on Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, and Lake Erie have exceeded long-term averages, often approaching or surpassing historic highs. As a result of these conditions, Lake Ontario faces the threat of persistent high inflows in 2021, significantly increasing the risks of sustained high-water levels and catastrophic flooding. With communities in our districts still recovering from the devastating conditions experienced in 2017 and 2019, the threat of further damage in 2021 represents an existential threat to coastal communities on Lake Ontario’s southern shore.

Given that the IJC and ILOSLRB have previously identified deviations from Plan 2014 as a key factor in mitigating the threat of high-water levels on Lake Ontario in 2020, it is critical that these same strategies be used to address the threat of flooding in 2021. For this reason, we request that the ILOSLRB formally request deviation authority from Plan 2014 during their next meeting, and that the IJC move to swiftly approve such authority. We also request that the IJC and LOSLRB provide detailed information regarding your plans to modify or maintain the Board’s deviation strategy in the months ahead, including during predictable high-water level events in the system such as the Ottawa River freshet. These steps are essential to ensuring a balanced response that truly reflects the interests of Lake Ontario’s coastal communities.

Thank you in advance for your time and attention to this matter. We look forward to your response.

 

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