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Lake Ontario residents appealing to president for help with water levels

February 27, 2017 07:44 AM

Many people living on the Lake Ontario shoreline have been living with fear since January 7th. They're bracing for flooding and erosion.

They say it's the result of a new plan that controls the lake's water levels. The United States agreed to that plan with Canada during the Obama Administration. Those people on the lake are now appealing to the new president.

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IJC Plan 2014 basically calls for higher highs and lower lows for Lake Ontario's water levels. Environmentalists say it will make the lake healthier. But people living on the lake say those higher highs will cause issues.

Ray Mack lives on the lake in the Town of Hamlin. He's predicting a higher likelihood that his basement floods as a result of this plan. The International Joint Commission says it will cause $2 million dollars more in damages along the coast each year. Mack wants the plan to disappear.

"It's critical that our elected officials support us," said Mack. "We voted for them."

Not everybody feels that way. Environmentalists, like Jim Howe of the Nature Conservancy, say it needs to stay.

"Support for this plan is deep," explained Howe. "It's broad, and it's bipartisan. We have Republican members of Congress that support it." 

But not Congressman Chris Collins, who represents the shores of Niagara and Orleans counties, as well as Hamlin. He also happens to be a President Donald Trump ally. President Trump didn't sign off on this plan. President Barack Obama's Secretary of State did. So, how does the current president feel about it? The White House didn't respond. 

"Common sense would say our president (and) the secretary would care more about the economy of our country than a few cattails in the marsh," said Congressman Collins, who acknowledged that President Trump hasn't specifically told him that.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter declined to answer questions on camera for this story. But she did say she is under the impression that Plan 2014 is a done deal, and that there's no way for the U.S. to back out. Congressman Collins disputed that.

"The IJC has a legal requirement to provide the money, the funding to the counties based on the economic damage done," he said. "They have informed me that they must provide that compensation and they don't have any money to do it.

"I think it would be almost a forgone conclusion that (lakeshore residents and counties on the lake) could get a stay on this."

Collins told us he plans to follow up on this issue with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

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Chris Horvatits

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