Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-NY, has directed the state Department of Environmental Conservation to sue the International Joint Commission for mismanagement of Lake Ontario water levels.

The state contends the IJC failed to respond appropriately to record high lake levels in 2017 and 2019 which exacerbated flood damage to residences and businesses. Cuomo said the state suffered more than $4 million in property damage that it has still been unable to fully repair and the IJC should be responsible for damages.

The governor said the body’s failure to act compelled the action.

“We have pleaded with the IJC to attend to the New York side of the issue. We have sent numerous pieces of correspondence. There have been meetings. There have been dialogues. There have been phone calls. The congressman (Joe Morelle) has been meeting with them. All sorts of officials have been meeting with the IJC. They have been wholly unresponsive and have taken no actions that has made the situation any better,” he said during a Wednesday announcement in Rochester.

In a June press conference, Cuomo indicated the state was looking into legal action. He gave Republican state Senator Rob Ortt credit for the idea.

Ortt, who is now running for Congress, was conspicuously missing from the executive press release Wednesday. The state senator did release his own statement though.

“Today’s announcement that New York State would be suing the International Joint Commission for damages caused by flooding connected to Plan 2014 is long overdue,” he said. “Although the Attorney General’s office declined to act on my proposal to sue the federal government for damages caused by Lake Ontario’s flooding back in May, I am pleased to see they have had a change of heart and will now seek financial compensation for the residents, localities, and businesses along the lake’s shores.”

Specifically the complain asserts the IJC was negligent in breaching its duty to protect the interest of New York property owners. It also claims the mismanagement was a nuisance because the body “should have been substantially certain that its conduct would cause an invasion of the State’s interest in the use and enjoyment of its land.”

Finally the state said the failure of IJC to increase outflows constituted trespassing or an invasion of NY property.