WXXI AM News

Lake Ontario

An Ontario climate expert is joining those who say climate change is one of the main reasons behind record water levels in the Great Lakes. The opinion runs contrary to those which have placed the blame on the work of an international commission.


Veronica Volk / Great Lakes Today/WXXI News

The federal government’s congressional watchdog agency is taking a look at a controversial plan that helps adjust water levels on Lake Ontario.

USFWS

A renewed effort to fight invasive mussels in the Great Lakes is underway.

Invasive quagga and zebra mussels aren’t new to the Great Lakes. But according to some experts, they’re among the greatest threats to the ecosystem.

Dan Molloy is an expert in aquatic invasive species, especially the quagga mussel.

"Their populations can explode, they eat microscopic plants which are the foundation of the ecosystem, and they’re the only freshwater mussel or clam that can attach to thing."

We’re joined by Governor Andrew Cuomo for a conversation about efforts to remediate flooding on Lake Ontario. Last month, the governor announced $300 million in funding to improve infrastructure along the shoreline. The pledge is part of the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative, or REDI, commission – a multi-agency effort that will implement legislative changes, aid packages, and executive actions to address the flooding.

Cuomo has been critical of the International Joint Commission (IJC) and its efforts to alleviate the flooding. The IJC has defended its plan to address the issue and says this year’s severe flooding was caused by excessive rain and inflows from the upper Great Lakes.

We hear from Cuomo, and then, we’re joined by Jane Corwin, U.S. commissioner and chair of the IJC. Our guests:

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

Since the flooding of 2017, the International Joint Commission has been criticized for mismanagement of Lake Ontario.

Now, in response to some of those criticisms, the IJC is adding two new seats to the board that regulates the outflows of Lake Ontario.

Kevin Bunch is a communications specialist with the IJC.

"The idea here is to make sure that people who live along the shorelines of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River -- make sure that they have a voice."

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

The governor’s new commission on shoreline resiliency met for the first time this week with local representatives from across the southern shore of Lake Ontario.

The meeting room at Greece Town Hall was full of representatives from different agencies, state officials, town supervisors and a few lakefront residents of Monroe County.

They all came to workshop solutions to the problems caused by high lake levels, as part of Governor Cuomo’s Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative.

Veronica Volk

For lakeshore property owners, there’s no quick fix to the high water levels, even though the organization that regulates those levels will continue with record outflows from Lake Ontario.

The International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board said the current outflow measures will help provide both immediate and long-term relief to all affected upstream shoreline residents and property owners.

Bryce Carmichael, U.S. secretary for the board, said the board has deliberated several outflow strategies.

Rep. Joe Morelle/Facebook

Local Congressman Joe Morelle is pushing for funding of a ‘Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study.’

Morelle joined Greece Town Supervisor Bill Reilich, Irondequoit Supervisor Dave Seeley and other officials on Saturday at Goodwin Park in Greece to say that officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers back the study which would help provide for long-term planning and mitigation strategies for lakeside communities.

It’s an effort to help deal with the effects of future flooding along the shoreline.

Office of Rep. John Katko

Although members of the joint U.S. - Canadian agency that oversees a water regulation plan came to Central New York on Friday, some of those attending a roundtable discussion weren’t necessarily pleased with what they heard.

That’s because members of the International Joint Commission indicated they still need more time to evaluate the impact of Plan 2014. That’s a controversial plan put into effect a few years ago, which some Lake Ontario shoreline residents feel contributed to recent flooding.

A coalition of New York property owners plans to sue the International Joint Commission (IJC), the international body that regulates water levels on Lake Ontario.

At the first meeting of the newly formed Lake Ontario Landowners Association, a crowd of more than 100 packed into a restaurant in Pulaski and cheered on the founder Jim Shea as he railed against the IJC and its board members.

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