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Cuomo to IJC: do a better job managing Lake Ontario water levels

Posted at 5:03 PM, May 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-01 17:52:10-04

By land, Governor Andrew Cuomo saw rising water pooling near the drains in the Town of Newfane.

By sea, he felt rough water on Lake Ontario.

Both, he said are problems of a poorly devised plan by the International Joint Commission (IJC.) The group oversees Great Lakes water levels.

“The IJC has to figure out a better way to manage the water level period. That is their job,” Cuomo said standing at the Newfane Marina on Wednesday.

Newfane has experienced flooding before. In 2017, the area of Niagara County saw record high water levels. Millions of dollars were spent on clean up. Newfane Town Supervisor Tim Horanburg says they can't afford a repeat. “They should have been dropping this down in February. But, under the new plan, they can't do that,” Horanburg said.

Last year, President Donald Trump named former Assemblywoman Jane Corwin chair of the IJC. She still needs Senate confirmation. But once that happens, Cuomo hopes she makes the problem here a priority. “I believe NY has been asked to shoulder more pain and more damage than the surrounding jurisdictions,” Cuomo said.

In a statement, an IJC spokesman said "The IJC continues to make every effort to reduce flooding impacts in New York, Ontario and Quebec, but we cannot eliminate flooding when water supplies are extremely high. When you dump a gallon of water into a cup, some of it is going to overflow no matter how much water was in the cup to begin with."

State officials and the IJC plan to meet Thursday to discuss the issue.