If U.S. Rep. John Katko gets his way, the federal government won't provide any funding to support Plan 2014, a Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River water management strategy administered by the International Joint Commission.
Katko, R-Camillus, authored a letter to the House Appropriations Committee urging the panel to include language in the 2020 budget that would prevent the commission from using federal funding for Plan 2014.
"In light of rising water levels and historic coastal flooding on Lake Ontario, serious evaluations are needed regarding the efficacy of Plan 2014," Katko wrote. "According to readings recently released by the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board, water levels on Lake Ontario continue to stand well above the average for previous years. While we acknowledge a number of factors contribute to these levels, Plan 2014 has played a clear role in escalating the threat of severe flooding that now faces our region."
Plan 2014 was adopted by the International Joint Commission in 2016. Katko has criticized the water regulation strategy, especially after flooding that occurred along Lake Ontario in 2017.
Record rainfall led to flooding that affected communities in Cayuga and Wayne counties, both of which are in Katko's district. President Donald Trump issued a major disaster declaration due to severe flooding.
But Katko and some elected officials blamed the flooding on Plan 2014. When water levels rose and flooding became a concern in 2017, Katko called on the United States to withdraw from the plan.
After a quiet 2018, there are concerns flooding could occur again this year. The Army Corps of Engineers, Katko noted, is projecting high water levels throughout the year. In an update last week, the International Joint Commission's Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board said lake levels are nearly 10 inches above average for this time of year.
There is another reason why Katko believes Plan 2014 shouldn't receive federal support. The International Joint Commission, a six-member bi-national panel, lacks a quorum. The commission, which consists of three representatives each from the U.S. and Canada, doesn't have any Canadian members at the moment. Two of the three U.S. seats are filled.
The two U.S. commissioners, Lana Pollack and Rich Moy, were appointed by former President Barack Obama.
Trump has nominated three people, including former New York state Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, to serve on the commission. The nominations were advanced by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week.
The full Senate must confirm the nominees.
Until there's a quorum at the International Joint Commission, Katko thinks the U.S. shouldn't support Plan 2014.
"Absent this leadership, the continued implementation of Plan 2014 only puts our community at an even greater risk," he said.