Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Armed with a three-page document and a Power Point presentation outlining their objections, two county lawmakers traveled to Washington D.C. last week to meet up with federal representatives and argue against a plan to regulate water levels in Lake Ontario.
Niagara County Legislator David Godfrey, R-Wilson, and Orleans County Legislator Lynne Johnson, R-Lyndonville, representing the Niagara-Orleans Regional Alliance, met with the U.S. Department of State as well as staff of U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to object to the plan.
“Residents of the south shore of Lake Ontario will be devastated by this plan if it goes through,” Johnson said.
The International Joint Commission announced the “Plan 2014” in June as its preferred way of regulating water levels and flows of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River by adjusting water flows by a dam in the river. The plan would create higher and lower water levels than have ever been seen in Lake Ontario.
The IJC said in a June statement that the plan would “provide more natural water level fluctuations while reducing the damage from extreme high and low water-level events to nearly the same extent as the current plan.”
NORA’s concerns about the plan are that higher water would erode high-value lakeside property while making harbor levels too shallow for boaters.
“The point that we drove home again and again is that every single taxpayer in the affected county is going to suffer, because damage from erosion will create a loss of assessed value,” Godfrey said. “That means that someone has to make it up the loss in tax dollars.”
The south shore fishing industry also generates $9.4 million annually, which would be impacted negatively by the plan, Godfrey said.
NORA has been working with U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, who arranged for Godfrey and Johnson’s meeting with the Department of State.