OLCOTT — During a Monday visit to this Lake Ontario-side hamlet, U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-New York, called for Congress to secure funding for the Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study.
Schumer and fellow Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand are calling for approval of $12 million to perform the study, which Schumer estimates would take about a year. He said the study would evaluate and recommend an array of structural, natural and regulatory measures to protect the Lake Ontario shoreline. The potential list includes building breakwaters, adding coastal armoring, developing new resilient design standards, restoring protective barrier island and beach sand replenishment.
The effort would also help identify vulnerable shoreline areas along Lake Ontario and offer recommendations on what changes need to be made to better protect shoreline property owners and communities. He added that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers performed a study after Hurricane Sandy and it successfully paved the way to fund new infrastructure projects that are currently boosting the resiliency of New York's Atlantic shoreline.
Schumer said both he and Gillibrand have been pushing for authorization of the study, which would be performed by USACE, since last year. He said the study "should not be a partisan issue" and time is of the essence for home and business owners affected by current shoreline flooding.
Two weeks ago, Lake Ontario broke its 2017 record for highest recorded lake levels. The record was 248.95 feet and now it's 249.98 feet.
Meanwhile, National Weather Service issued a flood watch from Monday night through Tuesday afternoon along the shoreline in Niagara and Orleans counties. The threat is especially elevated in bays, inlets and other low lying areas.
"This has been a really tough few months, here along the shores of Lake Ontario," Schumer said. "All across New York state, from Olcott here and Lewiston all the way through Rochester to Oswego and all the way to the St. Lawrence River, and that's because there has been terrible management from the IJC (International Joint Commission). They don't give a darn if our areas flood and that has to come to an end."
The International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board announced this past weekend that it will continue to increase outflows to provide relief to Lake Ontario shoreline areas. The board agreed to raise flows above the regulation plan’s maximum L-Limit, considered to be the safe threshold for commercial navigation. Outflows were to be increased in increments through Thursday until reaching the maximum flow that was attained in 2017 and the maximum sustained flow on record.