Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Brooks lays out opposition to lake-levels plan

Posted By on Wed, Sep 17, 2014 at 12:20 PM

Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks says that she opposes the plan for regulating water levels in Lake Ontario. 

This morning, Brooks appeared at the county's Webster Park, along the lake's shore, with Wayne County Board of Supervisors chair Jim Hoffman and Republican County Legislators Mike Rockow and Brian Marianetti to speak out against the plan.

In June, the International Joint Commission, a US-Canadian organization tasked with matters related to water bodies shared by the two countries, submitted Plan 2014 to the governments of both countries. The plan is awaiting federal approvals. 

Plan 2014 is intended to mimic, to a degree, the natural variation in lake levels that occurs without human intervention. The variability would have important environmental benefits, such as the restoration of coastal habits, particularly certain types of wetlands, supporters say.

During this morning's press conference, Brooks reiterated some of the frequent criticisms of the plan. Residents built homes along the lake shore with the current approach to levels management in mind, she said, and they planned erosion protection measures using those levels. Brooks also warned that higher water levels could exacerbate erosion at county parks along the lake and cause problems with water infrastructure.

The Monroe County Water Authority already has to put sandbags out at its new East Side Water Treatment Plant when levels get high, she said. The problem would get worse if higher levels are allowed, she said. And Hoffman warned that higher water levels could take as much as 90 percent of Sodus Point's sewer system out of commission.

In its reports, the IJC estimates a 13 percent increase in the cost of necessary shoreline protections, Brooks said. And a $2.2 million increase in damages along the lake's south shore. But the plan doesn't include compensation for property owners who face those costs, Brooks said. (She did acknowledge the IJC's argument that such provisions are beyond its purview.)

 "We just don't know who will be left holding the bag," Brooks said.

Brooks said she has written to Secretary of State John Kerry to explain her opposition to Plan 2014. The Department of State has to sign off for the plan to go into effect.

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