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Lake Ontario - St. Lawrence Board works on trying to help reduce high lake levels

Veronica Volk
Credit Veronica Volk / WXXI News

Water levels on Lake Ontario are well below the record peak they hit last May, but they are relatively high for this time of year. That’s according to the International Lake Ontario - St. Lawrence River Board which can help regulate the lake level to some extent via the Moses Saunders dam.

As of January 30th, Lake Ontario was a foot above average.

Arun Heer is U.S. Secretary for the board. He says the board continues to maximize the outflow of water from Lake Ontario.

“So at this time in response to the high Lake Ontario water levels and the high Upper Great Lakes water levels, Plan 2014 is calling for high outflows coming out of the Moses-Saunders dam.”

Plan 2014 is the plan adopted by the International Joint Commission, a U.S.-Canadian body, which created controversy last year with some property owners along the lake front and area political leaders claiming the changes brought about by that plan exacerbated last year’s flooding.

But officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say the main culprit in the widespread flooding along the Lake Ontario shoreline was heavy rains that hit many areas along the lake and the St. Lawrence River last year.

Heer does say that there have been temporary reductions in the outflow from Lake Ontario over the last several weeks to help manage ice jam conditions along the St. Lawrence River. The reductions in the outflow are also necessary to promote the formation of a solid, stable ice cover in some sections of the St. Lawrence, which helps reduce the risk of ice jams which can in turn cause localized flooding.

“They did have to do some adjustments in early January while that ice cover was forming so you’d see some temporary decreases in outflow and then, once again that stable ice cover was formed then the plan can go ahead and maximize those outflows once again; the concern is causing ice jams downstream in the Montreal area.”

Also this week, New York's U.S. Senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand said they want the Army Corps of Engineers to fund a new study of what needs to be done to prevent future flood devastation along Lake Ontario. 

Copyright 2018 WXXI News

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's Director of News and Public Affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.