Katko, Brindisi Launch Bipartisan Effort to Address Lake Ontario Woes

August 15, 2019 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – Representatives John Katko and Anthony Brindisi have launched a bipartisan effort to hold the international commission that manages outflows from Lake Ontario accountable for recent historic flooding.

Katko, a Republican, and Brindisi, a Democrat, have gotten the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan group that investigates issues for Congress, to look into how the International Joint Committee implemented a water management strategy called “Plan 2014.”

Since “Plan 2014” took effect, communities up and down the lake shore have been ravaged by devastating flooding at least twice, in 2017 and 2019.

Katko and Brindisi said the GAO will specifically look at:

·       How Plan 2014 was developed;

·       How it was implemented and how it is being assessed to see whether it is meeting the commission’s goals;

·       Concerns of stakeholders and how the commission is addressing them.

Speaking on Oswego, New York earlier this month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that state spent $100 million to repair the damage caused by the flooding in 2017, and that it would likely spend an additional $300 million to repair damage already done this year and to take steps to prevent further catastrophes along the lake.

Cuomo told reporters that massive flooding will be the “new normal” unless the International Joint Committee makes dramatic changes in its management of the lake.

He went on to say the committee has acknowledged as much, “and that’s the bottom line for us.”

Following Lake Ontario flooding that damaged homes and businesses throughout the region, Katko and Brindisi agreed to work together to hold the Committee accountable.

Earlier this summer, the representatives brought the committee to Oswego County to hear from the members of the community affected by the flooding.

After their community roundtable, Katko and Brindisi met privately with the American members of the committee in Washington to press for more accountability and transparency.

“I’ve long urged greater oversight and review of the IJC’s implementation of Plan 2014,” Katko said. “As our community knows all too well, shoreline homeowners, businesses and our local municipalities continue to suffer from increased water levels and devastating flooding.”

He called the GAO’s decision to move forward with a review a “critically important step forward in ensuring accountability from the IJC.”

“I look forward to reviewing the information gathered,” he said.

“This GAO study is a step in the right direction for the IJC but more needs to be done,” Brindisi said. “Homeowners, business owners, and families in Oswego County are fed up with the inaction and lack of foresight from the IJC. Hopefully, this study will provide a clear path to fixing what’s gone wrong with Plan 2014.”

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