Three north country state elected officials have launched a petition to suspend Plan 2014.
Plan 2014 established new water level regulations for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River after the binational authority overseeing them, the International Joint Commission, adopted it in 2017. After record-breaking floods in 2017 and again this year, Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton and Assemblymen Mark C. Walczyk, R-Watertown, and William Barclay, R-Pulaksi are calling for a suspension of the plan until the high water can be addressed.
“Across our region, thousands of people are dealing with record high water that is destroying homes, crippling small businesses and severely damaging shoreline infrastructure,” Sen. Ritchie was quoted on Tuesday afternoon as saying in a news release. “I understand the need to balance the competing interests when it comes to regulating water levels; however the current plan is having a disproportionate impact on property owners and shoreline business owners.”
Mr. Walczyk told the Times he realizes that the issues are complicated, but would like the IJC to concede that Plan 2014 exacerbated high water flows.
“We haven’t even see that acknowledgement,” Mr. Walzcyk said.
Mr. Walcyzk said such public acknowledgement and hearings would be a good start. He thinks that, long- term, the plan should re-balance priorities and water levels to mitigate future damage.
“It’s not as simple as pulling the plug and flooding Montreal,” he said.
Even if it takes a while, though, Mr. Walcyzyk thinks the changes that came with Plan 2014 need to be reevaluated.
“It’s way too much, way too fast,” Mr. Walczyk said. “It can’t be the new normal.”
Mr. Barclay echoed the concerns about the impact of the plan.
“The lake is nearly three feet above the 100-year average,” Mr. Barclay was quoted as saying. “The flooding has ruined homes and businesses, such as marinas, are turning boaters away because their docks are underwater. Federal and international representatives need to take immediate action to help protect property owners.”
Sen. Charles E. Schumer called on Monday for a top-to-bottom re-evaluation of Plan 2014, while Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has blamed the IJC since water levels started climbing.
The International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board, which carries out Plan 2014 for the IJC, said Monday it was considering raising outflow levels at the Moses-Saunders Power Dam on the St. Lawrence River.
The petition can be found on Sen. Ritchie’s website.