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Cuomo urges commission to maintain Lake Ontario outflows to avoid flooding

Gov. Andrew Cuomo hopes the International Joint Commission reconsiders its plan to decrease Lake Ontario outflows beginning Friday.

At 1 a.m., outflows will decrease from 8,950 to 8,550 cubic meters per second. Frank Bevacqua, a spokesperson for the International Joint Commission, said the reduced outflows coincide with the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway navigation season.

But Cuomo is concerned about a repeat of what happened in 2017 along the Lake Ontario shoreline. Record rainfall increased water levels, which led to flooding in several communities along the lake. The village of Fair Haven in Cayuga County was one of the affected communities.

Cuomo sent a letter to Lana Pollack, U.S. chair of the commission, requesting the panel to either maintain or increase outflows to reduce the chance of flooding.

“After the disastrous flooding situations on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River last year, it is critical that we remain vigilant and take whatever measures are necessary for ensuring that history does not repeat itself,” Cuomo said in a statement. “While New York has undertaken a wide range of preventative measures to protect against flooding, it would all be negated if the IJC mistakenly reduces outflows.”

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