Wayne Co. declares state of emergency for bays, harbors due to water levels

Wayne Co. declares state of emergency for bays, harbors due to water levels

April 19, 2017 05:40 PM

A state of emergency will be in effect in Wayne County starting overnight for all bays and harbors due to higher than normal lake levels.

Sheriff Barry Virts declared the special state of emergency that will begin Thursday morning at 12:01 a.m. Boats in bays and harbors will be required to operate at idle speed to avoid creating wakes.

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"Although recent boat traffic on all the Wayne County bays and harbors has been minimal, increased boat traffic would create a hazardous situation, property damage and shore line erosion," the sheriff's office writes.

The sheriff is also again warning boaters to be on the lookout for submerged docks and floating debris. The sheriff says the levels at the county's bays and harbors are reported at or above flooding level.

The county says in a release: "The water level of Lake Ontario has reached the point where it is threatening homes and property along the Lake Ontario Shoreline."

Speaking with News10NBC, Sodus Town Supervisor Steven LeRoy -- who also serves as the county Board of Supervisors chairman and consulted on the state of emergency -- puts the blame on changes made by the International Joint Commission which controls the lake's water levels.

"They're going to have blood on their hands, there's no question about it. People need to be held accountable for creating this type of unwarranted hardship," LeRoy told News10NBC.

Under Plan 2014, the lake levels are higher than in previous years. However, IJC reps say the difference is only a few inches and the flooding we are seeing now is due to higher than normal rain and water supply into the lake.

Plan 2014, though proposed in 2014, just took effect this year. It is designed to help the environment around the lake and protect wetlands. The IJC says they have made adjustments to push water out of the area. However, with rain and wind in the forecast, areas along the lake are packing sandbags to prepare for the worse.

Communities to fight Plan 2014

In a release Wednesday evening, Greece Town Supervisor Bill Reilich says Greece and other lakeshore communities plan to push back against Plan 2014 in Washington. Reilich says representatives from Monroe, Orleans, Ontario, Wayne, Erie and Niagara counties met Wednesday to discuss the "negative effects" of the plan.

"Since its launch, I have opposed the International Joint Commissions plan to raise the lake levels and advocated against its implementation. In order to create a collaborative approach against Plan 2014, we have decided to travel to Washington D.C. for the purposes of speaking with members from the State Department about replacing Plan 2014 with one that ensures the livelihood of all lake shore residents and businesses." said Supervisor Reilich in a release.


Howard Thompson

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