Although members of the joint U.S.-Canadian agency that oversees a water regulation plan came to Central New York on Friday, some of those attending a roundtable discussion weren’t necessarily pleased with what they heard.
That’s because members of the International Joint Commission indicated they still need more time to evaluate the impact of Plan 2014. That’s a controversial plan put into effect a few years ago, which some Lake Ontario shoreline residents feel contributed to recent flooding.
Jane Corwin is the U.S. Chair for the IJC. She asks political leaders and shoreline residents to be patient.
"We haven’t seen the plan operate under normal weather conditions yet, because we’ve had excessive water since the plan was implemented," Corwin said Friday during a meeting in Oswego.
Corwin admits that people don’t have confidence in the plan, so the IJC has decided to conduct a study of Plan 2014 and its predecessor called 1958DD.
“Do some computer modeling, compare 58DD with 2014 and run simulations, see how the differences would pan out. There are things we can do to get a better understanding of what’s going on,” she said. “It’s going to take some time and I just want everyone to understand. I know this is very difficult, this evaluation is not going to happen fast enough to do anything for this year, but we are certainly going to look and work as fast as we can, so we can do whatever we can as fast as possible.”
Corwin and her Canadian counterpart, Pierre Béland say that high amounts of rainfall combined with melting snow put a lot of water into the Great Lakes system, and that was the likely biggest contributor to this year’s flooding.
“"I believe Plan 2014 is a good plan, and many things have been said about it that are not exact, and we are trying to send information around so people have the real story," said Béland. "We are looking at every possibility, what could we do, tweak here and there to see if we could make things better and this will take a while because it’s not something that we could model in a matter of a year or two.”
Congressman John Katko helped organize the meeting on Friday. He said that he looks forward to further collaboration with the IJC and local stakeholders on the best methods to continue addressing the issue.
Area State Sen. Pam Helming and Assemblymember Brian Manktelow issued a statement saying that they are disheartened that the IJC is apparently not going to make immediate changes to Plan 2014.
Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow also was not impressed with the answers he heard at the roundtable.
"It’s hard to be encouraged by further study when we’re talking to two chairs, and one is defending the plan saying it’s a good plan, and the other says we need to take a look at it and it’s going to take more time. Not much to be excited about," said Barlow.