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Katko calls for action if Plan 2014 causes flood damage

Rep. John Katko
Facebook File Photo
Rep. John Katko (right) at Sodus Point last week.

Water levels continue rising along the southern shore of Lake Ontario. And while it’s unclear if Plan 2014 -- an initiative that changed the way water levels on the lake are controlled -- is responsible for the flooding, it’s put the controversial plan under the microscope.

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) spent part of his spring recess in Sodus Point, surveying high water levels that local leaders say are rising by a half an inch a day. He says Plan 2014 will gravely impact that community and others along the southern shore of the lake, and he wants Congress to take action.

“The Obama administration rammed through this plan in the 11th hour of his administration last fall. And we’re trying to examine whether it can be reversed. And if it can’t be reversed, then we’re trying to make sure we can get funding for when the inevitable damage occurs,” Katko said.

Katko says it was unfair that the rules of the game changed after entire communities, infrastructure and homes were built up on the basis of 70-year old lake level regulation rules.

“If you are going to have one of these agreements -- and the agreements makes sure they say you have to provide for damages, if some occur. It darn well should be in the agreement and they should be following what’s dictated. And they didn’t do that."

Katko warns that if the flooding continues it could cost millions.

"In Wayne County for example, over 50 percent of tax revenue comes from shoreline properties. Now imagine if those properties are devastated. The damages will be incalculable.”

The next step, says Katko, is getting a meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, since the State Department deals with international agreements like Plan 2014. The plan was approved by the a joint U.S.-Canadian Commission, and went into effect January 7. It was designed to create more natural variations of water levels along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence Seaway, as a way to restore the ecosystem. Advocates of the plan and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say it has had a negligible impact on water levels this spring.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.