3 new IJC members for US confirmed by Senate

Photo by Tom Rivers: Mike Walsh, a Lake Ontario shoreline resident in Carlton, is shown standing last week where there used to be a beach just west of the Oak Orchard Harbor. Walsh is concerned about flooding with the high Lake Ontario water level.

Staff Reports Posted 16 May 2019 at 10:47 pm

Three new members of the International Joint Commission were confirmed today by the U.S. Senate.

Jane L. Corwin, a former state assemblywoman from Clarence, is the next U.S. chairwoman of the IJC, and Robert C. Sisson and Lance V. Yohe are commissioners of the organization that regulates water levels of the Great Lakes. The IJC also includes three members from Canada.

“With Lake Ontario’s high water levels continuing to rise and a repeat of 2017’s historic Lake Ontario flooding looking more possible by the day, ensuring that the International Joint Commission—which plays a paramount role in setting Lake Ontario’s water levels—is fully staffed and fully functional couldn’t be more important,” U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said in a statement. “The filling of all three U.S. seats on the IJC is a major step in the right direction and will help prepare New York State for the absolute worst. I was proud to support the confirmation of these nominees to the IJC and look forward to working in lockstep with them to shield Lake Ontario communities from more devastating flooding. I now urge Canada to now do its part to nominate and pass the Canadian IJC members so the Commission can meet a quorum.”

The IJC has been under pressure with high water levels in Lake Ontario already causing flooding, threatening property and businesses.

Schumer is calling on the IJC and International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board of Control to assess and take all actions possible to mitigate flood risks to surrounding communities, including the appropriate maximization of outflows at the Moses-Saunders Dam.

This year is looking like a repeat of 2017, where communities along the southern shore of Lake Ontario suffered significant flooding and related property damage, economic dislocation and significant negative impacts on quality of life.

Congressman Chris Collins, R-Clarence, issued this statement about the IJC confirmations:

“President Trump could not have made a better choice than Jane L. Corwin to be the next U.S. Chair of the IJC,” Collins said. “Thanks to his leadership, we now have a voice for Lake Erie and Lake Ontario shoreline residents. Jane’s experience as an Assemblywoman for the Ontario Lakeshore properties and her understanding of the issues with Plan 2014 will make her an exceptional leader of the Commission. I know Jane, as well as Commissioners Robert Sisson and Lance Yohe, will protect the homeowners and small businesses along our shorelines.”

State Sen. Robert Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, issued this statement:

“The confirmations of the new IJC Commissioners by the U.S. Senate is welcome news as water levels in Lake Ontario continue to rise at an alarming rate. We have seen the damage that can be created by flooding on Lake Ontario’s shores if changes are not made to Plan 2014. It is my hope that the commissioners from both the United States and Canada can come to an agreement that modifies Plan 2014 and stems the disastrous rise in Lake Ontario’s water levels.”

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