ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - Governor Andrew Cuomo is threatening to pursue legal action if the group that manages water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River doesn’t make changes to combat record flooding.
In a letter to the U.S. And Canadian Chairpersons of the International Joint Commission, (IJC), Cuomo wrote, “The current devastation and the ongoing threat to the citizens and businesses of New York caused by Lake Ontario Flooding must be remedied.”
Meanwhile, the IJC announced it will “continue to increase outflows to provide relief to shoreline interests on Lake Ontario after it agreed to raise flows above the regulation plan’s maximum L-Limit, considered to be the safe threshold for commercial navigation.”
In a statement Saturday afternoon, the IJC said it would raise the amount of water flowing out through the dam in Massena to 367,270 cubic feet per second by Thursday. That ties the maximum amount the IJC let flow out in the flood year of 2017.
Cuomo says the State spent 100 million dollars dealing with flooding in 2017, and has spent tens of millions of dollars more this year.
The governor wants the IJC to release as much water from the Moses Saunders Dam as possible. As of Thursday, outflows were at 360,200 cubic feet per second, the highest they've been all year.
Still, this year's flooding has eclipsed the record floods of two years ago. The lake's current level of 249.08 ft. is about 3 feet higher than average.
Cuomo says he wants the IJC to reimburse New York State for its costs, and come up with added money for recovery efforts and other protective measures. If the IJC fails to take action, the governor says it “will result in New York taking any and all actions to compel the IJC to act, including legal action.”
In its statement, the IJC said the St. Lawrence Seaway has been informed of the increasing outflows and “The Board will also continue to explore further increases based on conditions within the system at that time.”