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Lakefront residents hope for the best as New York State files suit against IJC

Andrew Hyman
Updated: October 09, 2019 11:45 PM
Created: October 09, 2019 11:42 PM

SODUS POINT, N.Y. (WHEC) – Sodus Point resident Tom Piekunka's lakefront backyard has seen its share of flooding, both in 2017 and this year.

It’s mostly dry now, that doesn’t mean the problems have dried up.

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"The ground isn't steady, we've got different pressures pushing on the foundations," Piekunka said.

All of which, he says, is due to the high lake levels and mismanagement by the International Joint Commission.

He’s not alone in that opinion.

"They have failed to manage the lake levels, period," said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo was in town to announce the state is taking legal action against the IJC. The main goal of the suit is to have the commission pay the state back for what it says is destruction as a result of that mismanagement.

"This is an international entity, and it is going to be a difficult case," Cuomo said.

Cuomo maintains, though, that it’s the state’s last resort.

"I don't think anybody knows how it's going to play, out, I certainly don't," said Dave McDowell, the president of Save Our Sodus.

The group is currently raising money for an IJC lawsuit of its own, as it seeks to raise roughly $1 million. McDowell says the group just wants the commission to reduce the water levels or repeal its controversial lake level plan, Plan 2014. 

"We are a foot and half high right now, we will flood next year if we have normal rainfall," McDowell said.

He supports Cuomo’s announcement because he says it brings attention to the lake water levels and to efforts led by groups like his. It’s a mission Piekunka is a part of, though he says he has more faith in neighbors than he does the state. 

Still, he hopes Governor Cuomo can prove him wrong.

"You need to solve the problem, you need to get this plan repealed, and you need to get this turned around," he said.

Cuomo estimates the cost to New York State will be over $1 billion.

In a statement - an IJC spokesperson says that the agency is aware of Cuomo’s announcement, but it has not received any formal notice.


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