February 23, 2019
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Issues Letter Calling on International Joint Commission to Maximize Lake Ontario Outflows

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today issued a letter to the International Joint Commission calling on the IJC to maximize Lake Ontario outflows to prevent flooding along New York's shoreline. Lake Ontario levels are significantly higher than average, and high winds over the weekend threaten to create significant wave action and exacerbate the threat even further.  


The full text of the letter is available below:


Dear Chair Pollack,


New Yorkers are all too familiar with the threat of flooding along Lake Ontario. The devastating floods in 2017 are fresh in the minds of many communities that are still recovering, and we remain continuously vigilant about the risk for New Yorkers living and working along the shoreline.


That's why we are especially concerned by the recent rise in Lake Ontario levels. According to the Army Corps of Engineers, the lake has risen 6 inches since last month and is currently 16 inches above its monthly average, near record highs.  


Upcoming weather patterns raise further concerns about potential renewed flooding. In the coming days, we expect extremely strong winds to create significant wave action that increases the risk of flooding. And with spring approaching, snowmelt and additional precipitation threaten to increase lake levels even further.


I urge the International Joint Commission to use all means to maximize outflows from the Lake Ontario system and reduce the risk for potential flooding this year. While New York does not seek to cause flooding in the Montreal region, we insist the IJC take all reasonable actions to limit flooding along Lake Ontario.


The difference of inches of water can determine whether a home is flooded, a business destroyed or a road made impassable. While New York has undertaken a wide range of preventive measures to protect against flooding, the IJC must be a partner in this effort. The IJC should ensure that the federal government is actively working to increase the resiliency of our great lakes coastline and minimizing the risk of potential flooding.


In the wake of the 2017 flooding, New Yorkers stepped up for those in need. We took action to protect communities from further flooding and delivered critical State and federal funding to help families and businesses rebuild. Now we must do everything in our power to ensure history does not repeat itself.



Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

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