On Wednesday, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-28) stood up for residents living along Lake Ontario who risk damage to their homes and neighborhoods as a plan is being developed that adjusts water levels in the lake. Slaughter called on the International Joint Commission and New York state to meet to take into account the concerns of residents who live along Lake Ontario.
"I have heard from many of my constituents along the southern shores of Lake Ontario regarding this plan and I understand their concerns: an increased risk of flooding, a greater risk of erosion and a need for mitigation should their homes be damaged," Slaughter said. "I, too, am concerned about the local ramifications of a new water management plan on residents, businesses and municipalities along the south shore and today call on the IJC, New York state and relevant agencies to again meet and address the vital need for shoreline protection. My concern is for my constituents in Monroe, Orleans and Niagara counties who will be severely impacted by the plan put in place by the IJC that made this resolution necessary; their voices must be heard."
In 2008, Slaughter and Republican Rep. John McHugh, whose district bordered Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence Seaway, introduced a resolution into the House of Representatives advising the secretary of state not to approve a water level management plan that did not fully take into consideration the views of New York state, which has jurisdiction over waters to be regulated, and residents who live along Lake Ontario. McHugh is now secretary of the Army.
H.Res 1146 "Expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that the International Joint Commission should adopt a water level management plan for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River that strongly takes into account environmental considerations and the concerns of the public and the affected States and maximizes hydropower production at existing facilities, and further urges the Secretary of State not to approve a plan that fails to do so."
Slaughter has long urged the IJC to develop a proposal that contains criteria to mitigate potential flood and erosion damage along Lake Ontario's south shore. On May 6, 2008, she wrote to then acting secretary of the IJC urging them to meet with New York to develop mitigation plans to address the concerns of local residents.
It was Slaughter and McHugh who secured more than $10 million for the IJC to study Lake Ontario water levels between 2000-05.
It is thanks to Slaughter that the dialogue at Quest Elementary School in Hilton was possible. On Feb. 1, she wrote to IJC Commissioner Pollack expressing the concerns of residents whom she said deserved adequate time to understand the IJC's proposal.
"It was suggested to me that the month of March is too soon to garner a full understanding of the new approach to be prepared for a March meeting, that there is not adequate time to spread the word about the meeting and that weather conditions in March may not be preferable for people to travel long distances to the meeting," Slaughter wrote.