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US and Canada to study Lake Ontario water management plan

Payne Horning
WRVO News (file photo)
The communities along Lake Ontario have experienced devastating flooding in recent years, which some blame on a government regulatory plan.

The U.S. and Canadian governments plan to undertake a study to assess Plan 2014, the water management plan used to help regulate the water levels in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

Congress is appropriating $1.5 million for the study, which Canada will match, to review the effectiveness of the regulatory plan that went into effect shortly before historic flooding in 2017 and again this year. Critics say Plan 2014 is to blame for the unprecedented water levels while others say it's a scapegoat for the excessive rainfall in recent years, which could be related to climate change.

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) says a study of Plan 2014 could help keep the International Joint Commission (IJC) accountable for how it manages water levels.

"Water levels now are catastrophically high for this time of year and they should have let out more water in the fall, but because of the shipping industry they've kept the water lower in the St. Lawrence River to allow the ships come through. That's going to have a catastrophic effect next spring," Katko said. "So, I'm very worried about it."

An IJC spokesperson says these funds will help build on an intergovernmental study that is already underway focused on improving performance. The Government Accountability Office is also conducting its own study of Plan 2014.

Homeowners along Lake Ontario and New York state have announced lawsuits against the IJC for its management of water levels.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.