Collins, county legislators meet with State Department about lake plan

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 November 2015 at 12:00 am

File photo by Tom Rivers – This sign on the shore of the Golden Hill State Park in Barker warns of an eroding shoreline.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Orleans County Legislator Lynne Johnson was in Washington D.C. on Wednesday meeting with State Department officials about a proposed plan for regulating Lake Ontario water levels.

Johnson and many officials from the southshore counties have been pressing the federal government not to support the plan from the International Joint Commission, a bi-national group that regulates the water levels.

A 2014 plan could result in bigger swings in water levels, damaging property and hurting boating and fishing industries.

“We need to work hard and stop this nonsense from going forward,” Orleans County Legislature Chairman David Callard said Wednesday during the Legislature meeting.

He noted that Johnson was in Washington with David Godfrey, a Niagara County legislator. They were joined by Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) and Congressman John Katko (NY-24) in a meeting with the State Department.

“The IJC’s Plan 2014 hurts homeowners and businesses along Lake Ontario’s shoreline,” Collins said in a statement. “I am vehemently opposed to this plan which would quicken erosion along shrinking shorelines, lower property values for specific homeowners, and have a negative impact on the region’s economy by limiting recreational and commercial boating. I remain committed to working with my colleagues in federal, state, and local government against the plan’s implementation and am glad Congressman Katko and county legislators Dave Godfrey and Lynne Johnson could join me in this fight.”

Plan 2014’s intent is to re-establish Lake Ontario’s natural water level fluctuations to restore the region’s natural wetlands and environmental diversity. The proposal has met significant resistance due to the disproportionate damages that will fall onto Lake Ontario’s southern shore communities, Collins said.
“Today’s meeting was yet another opportunity to discuss the potentially devastating impact that Plan 2014 could have on Wayne County’s shoreline, economy, and vast agriculture community,” Katko said.

He hosted a similar meeting earlier this year with Wayne County lawmakers and representatives from the U.S. Department of State and the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

“I’m appreciative of Representative Collins’ efforts in facilitating this meeting,” Katko said. “I recognize the value of preserving our natural resources and supporting conservation measures, but Plan 2014 could cause a great loss of shoreline, erosion damage to property, and flooding in Wayne County. It is critical that we make these points known to stakeholders on a federal level, and that we continue to have an open dialogue moving forward.”

Godfrey said the IJC plan would be “economically devastating four our entire area.”

Johnson said residents and officials spoke out about the plan during public meetings and hearings. But the IJC still pushed it through.

“The approval by the IJC of Plan 2014 is government at its worst,” Johnson said. “The IJC did not listen to the voice of people.”