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Cuomo directs DEC to sue International Joint Commission over "water level mismanagement"

Governor Cuomo
Posted at 1:19 PM, Oct 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-09 13:19:48-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is suing the International Joint Commission (IJC) for the "mismanagement" of Lake Ontario water levels.

Governor Cuomo made the announcement Wednesday. Cuomo says the high water levels caused catastrophic damage to shoreline communities.

"The facts of the matter are plain: The IJC's function is to manage the Lake Ontario water levels, and they failed - period. They have been wholly unresponsive and have taken no action to make the situation better," Governor Cuomo said in a statement. "We will not shoulder the burden of the destruction that is a direct result of the IJC's gross mismanagement of Lake Ontario water levels, and the IJC needs to compensate New York for the severe damage to the homes and businesses along the shoreline. That's what this lawsuit is all about."

According to the governor, the lawsuit lists the following complaints:

  • Negligence: IJC breached its duty by failing to take sufficient steps to protect the interests of New York property owners on the Lake Ontario shoreline.
  • Nuisance: Based on the severe flooding that resulted from IJC's mismanagement, IJC was or should have been substantially certain that its conduct would cause an invasion of the State's interest in the use and enjoyment of its land.
  • Trespass: IJC failed to increase outflows from Lake Ontario to lower water levels and abate flooding, which constituted an invasion of property.

"Today we sent a loud and clear message to the IJC. Enough is enough! They have failed the hardworking taxpayers who own homes and businesses along the shoreline and they have failed New York," said State Republican Senator Pamela Helming. "This is nothing short of a man-made disaster and the IJC needs to abolish Plan 2014 and compensate those whose properties have been damaged or destroyed."

In 2017 and 2019, businesses and homeowners living along the shores of Lake Ontario have battled record high water levels. New York state is now accepting applications from those who were impacted by historic Lake Ontario flooding.