Orleans Leg calls on Trump to fire current IJC members who control lake levels

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 May 2017 at 8:20 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: Orleans County Legislator Lynne Johnson speaks during the news conference at Point Breeze on July 2, 2014, when local officials and Congressman Chris Collins spoke out against a new plan for regulating Lake Ontario water levels. The following week she travelled to Washington, D.C. to speak with State Department officials about Plan 2014 and its potential havoc on the southshore counties. Her concerns about the lake level plan are coming true as the shoreline is eaten away by erosion. “This is definitely one of those, ‘Told you so’s,'” she said on Wednesday.

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature is calling on President Trump to fire the current U.S. commissioners who serve on the International Joint Commission, the binational group that regulates Lake Ontario water levels.

The IJC pushed a new lake level plan through the Canadian and US governments. Former President Obama approved the plan near the end of his administration.

The southshore counties, including Orleans, railed against the plan for several years, with Orleans legislators travelling to Washington D.C. to voice their concerns to the State Department that property would be flooded and eroded from a higher Lake Ontario.

“We told them it would harm us,” said Lynne Johnson, vice chairwoman of the Orleans County Legislature. “The International Joint Commission has failed us and they failed all the southshore counties along the lake.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency for the southshore counties, now in its 36th day due to flooding and erosion. More than 135,000 sandbags have been distributed in Kendall, Carlton and Yates to help property owners stave off some of the flooding and erosion.

Many property owners have lost 10 feet or more of land to the lake, which is creeping closer to homes.

“I think we’re in for a long haul,” said Dale Banker, the county’s emergency management director.

Ken DeRoller, speaking on Wednesday, said the new lake level plan has been harmful to property owners on the southshore of the lake.

He told county legislators on Wednesday that Kendall, Carlton and Yates highway departments would each have 5,000 more sandbags available for residents this weekend. The lakeshore remains under a flood warning today.

The County Legislature on Wednesday passed an official resolution calling on President Trump to rescind “Plan 2014” and appoint new IJC commissioners. Plan 2014 was called “an absolute disaster” for Orleans County, legislators said in the resolution.

The Legislature wants the three U.S. and three Canadian commissioners on the IJC to all resign. The Legislature also wants Congress to hold hearings on the IJC’s culpability “in a manmade disaster on a financial scale comparable with the contamination of the Flint, Michigan, water supply.”

County Legislator Ken DeRoller, R-Kendall, moved the resolution.

“The changed the rules of the game for lake levels,” DeRoller said. “We are asking for aggressive actions from the president to appoint new members to the board.”

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