Panel again blasted for Lake Ontario flooding

The Associated Press

GREECE, N.Y.–Gov. Andrew Cuomo again is blasting the U.S.-Canadian panel that controls the outflow of water from Lake Ontario, saying the agency bears much of the blame for flooding in New York’s lakeside communities.
“I think they pulled the trigger too late” on increasing outflow, Cuomo said today in the Rochester suburb of Greece.
“They got behind and now we have a real problem.”
The International Joint Commission responded to Cuomo’s comments by saying nobody could have predicted the severe flooding throughout the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system caused by record rainfall.
The commission-directed board that controls outflow through a St. Lawrence River dam said today it would increase water releases starting tomorrow.
The Democratic governor returned to flood-damaged Lake Ontario shoreline communities in Monroe and Wayne counties today amid U.S. National Weather Service predictions for more damaging waves and an Army Corps of Engineers forecast of above-average water levels for all five Great Lakes all summer.
Both counties have seen some of the worst damage from flooding that began earlier this spring during heavy rains.
Many lakeside communities in an eight-county region stretching from the Niagara River to the St. Lawrence River have sustained at least some damage since May, including shoreline erosion, flooded roads, battered break walls, and submerged docks and boat launches.
Cuomo said the flooding has “devastated” the spring-summer tourism season for many lakeside communities.
“When that season gets whipped out, it has economic consequences for the entire year,” he stressed.
Some lakeside residents and local officials have blamed the flooding on the International Joint Commission–the U.S.-Canada board that governs outflows from Lake Ontario into the St. Lawrence River.
New York residents and officials want the board to release more water through a dam on the river, but the IJC also must consider flood-ravaged downstream communities, as well as cargo ships that would be hampered by increased currents.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit announced yesterday that water levels for all of the Great Lakes are expected to be higher than average into the fall.
The agency predicts Lake Ontario’s level will start to lower this month, but remain higher-than-average into November.
Cuomo was last in the Rochester area in late May, when he announced that $7 million in state funding would be available to homeowners affected by flooding.
His latest visit to lakeside areas comes as the U.S. National Weather Service issued lakeshore flooding watches for tonight into tomorrow afternoon from Wayne County west to the Niagara River due to wind-driven waves.