Residents along Cross Lake and the Seneca River in Cayuga and Onondaga counties could finally get help from the state.
Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday signed legislation that names Brian Stratton, who heads the state Canal Corporation, as chair of the Upstate Flood Mitigation Task Force. The task force will hold its first meeting on Aug. 22 and issue a report by July 1, 2023.
The main objective of the task force will be to develop flood management and mitigation measures for the canal system — the Seneca River is part of the state Canal System overseen by the Canal Corporation.
"Countless New York communities are at risk of climate-related dangers like flooding and storm damage," Hochul said in a statement. "By convening the Upstate Flood Mitigation Task Force, we are taking action to identify flood mitigation strategies that will protect the people who live in communities along the Erie Canal, and ultimately help to relieve these communities from the impacts of repeat flooding."
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The bill was sponsored by state Sen. John Mannion and Assemblyman Al Stirpe, both of whom represent communities along Cross Lake and the Seneca River. Mannion visited Cross Lake in November and in May, hosted a meeting in Cato where Cross Lake flooding was discussed. Representatives from the state Canal Corporation and New York Power Authority were at the meeting.
After Hochul signed his bill, Mannion said in a statement that flooding of businesses and homes along Cross Lake and the Seneca River is "unacceptable and demands a real solution from the state of New York."
"My legislation brings to life the dormant Upstate Flood Mitigation Task Force with a charge to deliver actionable flood mitigation strategies within 12 months," he said. "I thank Governor Kathy Hochul for signing this into law and for being a strong partner on resolving the devastating and systemic flooding that has plagued these communities."
The bill's signing was praised by property owners. Bruce Chilton owns a resident in the town of Cato. He singled out Mannion for his efforts, especially the sponsorship of the bill and organizing the recent meeting in Cato.
"This legislation is a meaningful step towards mitigating the unacceptable flooding that has devastated Cross Lake and the Seneca River in recent years," Chilton said. "The task force will look at real solutions for cohesively managing water levels and reducing the disparate impacts of regional flooding."
Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.