IJC: Plan 2014 not main reason Lake Ontario water levels are rising
Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - Rising waters along Lake Ontario have many working to protect their homes and pointing the finger at the International Joint Commission.
The IJC is the group behind Plan 2014. The plan means new regulations for how water is released from Lake Ontario. It was meant to protect the environment and recreation on both Lake Ontario and its tributaries.
The plan called for higher highs and lower lows when it comes to the lake, but the IJC said Thursday those changes, which went into effect in January, aren't why many are preparing to battle flooding.
"The new plan has contributed a small amount, but we calculate it's a couple inches. Things would be marginally better, but basically we'd be seeing similar conditions," said IJC Public Affairs Officer Frank Bevacqua.
According to the IJC, fluctuating temperatures during the winter, and a wet spring is why the levels now are so high.
The agency has the authority to release more water from the lake into the St. Lawrence River in Canada, but even if the water continues to rise, it's not clear if that will happen.
"They still have to take the conditions upstream and downstream into account and right now there's high water everywhere so there's really no plug to pull to empty the tub," said Bevacqua.
Which means many, including homeowners Robert and Diane Dill in Greece, are left to wait and see what happens. They already have high waves crashing over their break wall along the lake.
"If we get another foot and then a bad storm, it hits the windows like a fire hose," said Robert Dill.
The Dills are planning to put sand bags down soon. They're even debating boarding up their windows.
"Can't do much now but hope for the best I guess," said Robert Dill.
The lake level is expected to rise about another foot sometime in May. The IJC estimates the lake will reach its "trigger level" allowing the commission's board to potentially step in sometime next week.
Many local leaders continue to monitor the situation on the lake. U.S. Representative Chris Collins (R) opposed Plan 2014 from the start. He released the following statement:
"As expected, Plan 2014 is a disaster for the taxpayers, homeowners, and communities along Lake Ontario. Thanks to its last minute approval by Barack Obama and a ham handed bureaucracy, water levels are now at an all time high and property damage gets worse each day. This is exactly why I have worked alongside local leaders to adamantly oppose the implementation of this plan since I first took office. This action is unacceptable and I want to assure my constituents that I am working with the Trump Administration and local leaders to put a stop to this short-sighted decision ."
A spokesperson for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D) told 13 WHAM the Senator is monitoring the situation and will work with the state if any federal assistance is needed to address flooding.