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Collins blames International Joint Commission for Lake Ontario flooding threat

OLCOTT - Rep. Chris Collins renewed his criticism of the International Joint Commission during his visit Tuesday to Olcott to inspect damage from Lake Ontario flood waters.

Collins, R-Clarence, has urged President Trump to pull the U.S. out of the commission's Plan 2014, a Lake Ontario water level management policy that Collins and some others blame for the high water.

A commission spokesman told The Buffalo News last week that the water is only two inches higher than it would have been under the binational agency's previous policy. The commission blames the wet spring for rising water levels throughout the Great Lakes.

Residents say they cannot recall seeing the water so high, but figures from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers show the current level is 9 inches below the all-time record for April. However, it is 21 inches above the April average, and the Corps forecasts another increase of 6 inches in the coming month.

"Plan 2014 has been an utter disaster for Lake Ontario taxpayers and communities since it was approved in the final minutes of the Obama administration," Collins said. "Both the property damage and overflow of debris into Lake Ontario that I inspected today could have been avoided. I came here today to assure local officials and Lake Ontario homeowners that I am working with the Trump administration to reform the IJC and repeal Plan 2014 as soon as possible."

Collins has urged Trump to fire the three U.S. representatives on the commission and replace them with foes of Plan 2014.

Jonathan F. Schultz, Niagara County emergency management director, said Tuesday's rain did not make matters much worse on the lakeshore, because the winds were blowing from the south. North or northeast winds drive the waves toward the shore and create more trouble.

Schultz said there was some lakeshore flooding Monday in Youngstown, where the Niagara River flows into the lake. Water approached, but did not enter, the buildings of the Youngstown Yacht Club and the Whirlpool Jet Boat, he said.

Schultz said Newfane town workers are constructing a berm of earth and stones, 12 to 18 inches high, in the low-lying West Bluff area of Olcott to try to protect homes there.

Also, 12,000 to 14,000 sandbags were filled last weekend, and some have been placed in threatened areas. Most of them, however, are stacked at the Olcott Fire Company, Schultz said.

Beach disappears, bank erodes as Lake Ontario keeps rising

 

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