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Resentment grows against IJC and Plan 2014

Arney's Marina on Sodus Bay is flooded and lined with sandbags.
Veronica Volk
Arney's Marina on Sodus Bay is flooded and lined with sandbags.

As Lake Ontario lingers at record highs, public outcry against the group that manages lake levels continues to rise.

Barbara Hasenauer lives on Edgemere Drive in Greece. While picking up sandbags to protect her property from the incessant flooding, she said it’s something she shouldn’t have to do.

"I’m very angry about it," she said. "They can do something, but they don’t. And I don’t mean the people in Greece -- they’ve been great -- but it’s the IJC."

The IJC, or International Joint Commission, is the bi-national group that oversees Great Lakes Management.

Hasenauer isn’t the only resident who blames them for the flooding. Ask many homeowners along the southern shore of Lake Ontario about it, and they will point to the new lake level management plan -- called Plan 2014 -- as the cause behind these high levels.

But it’s not just residents who blame the plan. Bill Reilich is the town supervisor of Greece.

"I think it’s detrimental," Reilich said. "All you gotta do is look at the shoreline and I can say that since this new plan’s put in -- two out of three years, we got flooding."

In the last week, even more politicians have joined the fight against the IJC, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who threatened legal action against the IJC, and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, who accused them of mismanagement.

And no matter how hard the IJC defends itself and its management plan, it only sparks more outrage.

Rob Caldwell is the secretary for the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board, which is in charge of implementing the plan.

"I mean, it’s disappointing that it came to this," he said.

Caldwell said he was recently in contact with law enforcement over targeted personal threats to staff members, but declined to comment further.

He says the board isn’t even responsible for Plan 2014, just its implementation. The IJC and Plan 2014 supporters say this year’s flooding was caused by excessive rain and inflows from the upper Great Lakes -- a likely symptom of climate change in the region.

Veronica Volk is a senior editor and producer for WXXI News.