Fair Haven Flooding 5.JPG

FILE - In this June 2019 photo, Lake Ontario water levels continue to rise at Fair Haven Beach State Park.

U.S. Rep. John Katko and other upstate New York members of Congress are using Plan 2014 to argue for the International Joint Commission to play a greater role in protecting Lake Ontario communities from flooding. 

Katko, R-Camillus, along with U.S. Reps. Anthony Brindisi and Joe Morelle, wrote a letter to Jane Corwin, the commission's U.S. section chair, urging the panel overseeing Lake Ontario water levels to comply with a provision in Plan 2014. 

The directive, according to Katko, mandates the commission to "provide adequate protections for coastal community residents and businesses." 

In the letter, Brindisi, Katko and Morelle request information from the IJC about efforts to protect the shoreline from flooding. They also want the commission to explain what will be done to "redress the catastrophic injuries sustained by our communities in the years since Plan 2014 took effect." 

"Water-level regulation procedures authorized under Plan 2014 directly impact the well-being of Lake Ontario's shoreline communities, which have faced historic flooding in two of the three years since Plan 2014 took effect," the members of Congress wrote. "The resulting devastation has amounted to millions of dollars in damage to shoreline infrastructure, as well as residential and commercial properties." 

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Flooding occurred in 2017 — months after Plan 2014's adoption. The then-record water levels caused millions of dollars in damage. President Donald Trump issued a major disaster declaration for eight New York counties, including Cayuga, along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. 

While there wasn't flooding in 2018, high water levels returned this year. The lake eclipsed 249 feet — a new record — and flooding was reported in several Lake Ontario communities. 

Katko is one of several elected officials who have blamed Plan 2014 and the IJC for flooding. The commission, which consists of U.S. and Canadian members and oversees shared boundary waterways, said the flooding is due to extreme rainfall. 

In October, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced New York would sue the commission for its alleged role in causing the flooding. He estimated the flooding has caused $1 billion in damages to the Lake Ontario shoreline. 

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Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.


Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.