Local and state leaders pushing for action while Lake Ontario water levels rise

Local News

OSWEGO, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Water levels continue to rise on Lake Ontario as local and state officials work to prevent the damage.

Governor Andrew Cuomo made a stop on Sunday through the City of Oswego, assessing the lake and sending a message to the International Joint Commission.

State representatives mostly looked at the breakwall, which is the first barrier into the Oswego Harbor.

Mayor Billy Barlow said the federally-owned barrier is now insufficient. With water levels more than a foot higher than the typical height this time of year, waves are getting past the wall.

“It’s been frustrating to know that it’s happening again this year. We’ve kind of seen it coming but unfortunately, it’s here hitting us in the face now and we have to react,” Barlow said.

Back in 2017, more than a dozen neighbors living on the shoreline in Oswego saw severe flooding. The water is about a half a foot away from reaching those limits we saw two years ago.

“We should never get to this place. The IJC’s job is to manage the flow of water. When you get to a point where you have flooding, by definition, you have not done your job,” said Cuomo.

The Governor met with the IJC last week. The ICJ has since released some of the water, but Governor Cuomo said it’s not enough.

“Let the federal government pass that infrastructure act the way they said they would have years ago, and let’s actually build a new waterfront that not only protects us but enhances us,” Cuomo said.

More than $100 million was spent repairing the flood damages of 2017.

To prevent severe damage again, if you live by the shoreline, local municipalities are asking you to contact them for sandbags as a line of protection. The state is also offering something called an aquadam, which would be a temporary wall to block the water. 

The Governor is also asking local governments impacted by flooding in 2017 who may need help again to call the state at (518) 292-2200. 

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