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Fair Haven flooding

Docks are under water in Fair Haven in June 2017.

Our representatives at all levels of government are wise to be keeping an eye on Lake Ontario and correct to demand action to try to mitigate the prospect of flooding that caused considerable damage in Fair Haven and other communities in 2017. But one of Rep. John Katko's answers to the problem is both unworkable and short-sighted.

Katko wants to end federal funding for Plan 2014, a water management strategy for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River that some say has exacerbated shoreline flooding. But there is no mechanism for stopping funding to this one part of the far-reaching International Joint Commission, an organization dedicated to issues involving the Great Lakes that includes representatives of the United States and Canada.

Record rainfall in 2017 has been identified as the main culprit of flooding that year, and the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board, established by the IJC to oversee Plan 2014, reports that Lake Ontario outflows have been maximized in recent months in response to higher than normal lake levels to help prevent flooding.

In any case, if Plan 2014 were to go away, what then? The plan was put in place after years of scientific study as a means of working toward the right balance for many facets involving Lake Ontario — and the millions of stakeholders on its shores and beyond. This is the system in place to address things like flooding, and it is a mechanism for responding to changing situations.

If Plan 2014 requires critical evaluation and changes to the way in which is is being administered, fine. But elimination of funding for it is not a viable means of protecting New York's lake shore from flooding.

The Citizen editorial board includes interim publisher Thomas Salvo, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.

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