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Cuomo again criticizes IJC for high Lake Ontario water levels

Alex Crichton
Gov. Andrew Cuomo checking out a new Aqua Dam installed along the shoreline in the Rochester suburb of Greece

Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited the communities of Greece and Sodus Point, along the southern shore of Lake Ontario to assess damage to homes and businesses from high water levels on Lake Ontario.

Damage he says is due in part to a late response from the board that regulates water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, the International Joint Commission.

The Democrat blasted the IJC, saying the agency bears much of the blame for flooding in New York's lakeside communities.

"They did not increase the outflows when they could have, and I think they pulled the trigger too late...and they got behind, and now we have a real problem,'' he said.

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 Tuesday it would increase water releases starting Wednesday.

During the visit, Cuomo also unveiled some new technology designed to help save properties from further damage.

Cuomo says the state is testing two "aqua dams," a water-filled synthetic device that, when it works, acts like a portable dam.

"Essentially when it works, a 4-foot, 5-foot, 6-foot additional seawall that can be constructed exactly where you need it," he said. "If it works, I want the state to invest in it. Protect the homeowners now. It's also reusable."

Director of the state's Emergency Management Office, Kevin Wisely, says the state is testing a 140-foot Aqua Dam in Greece and another 700-foot device in Sodus Point.

"It fills itself up and it becomes that barrier. It'll be four foot high, about 9 foot wide, and becomes a barrier, essentially a break wall," he said.

Rick Maciulis has lived in a home on the lake for 15 years, and he says he has doubts that the new aqua dam will protect his residence.

"Absolutely it will go over. Water hits my second story window here. When it hits the break wall, it splashes up 18, 20 feet.”