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Lake Ontario water levels more than a foot above average, prompting flooding concerns

Veronica Volk
WXXI News (file photo)

According to the International Lake Ontario - St. Lawrence River Board, Lake Ontario is more than a foot higher than usual for this time of year.

Keith Koralewski with the Army Corps of Engineers said, we're not alone. "Most of the Great Lakes are currently above average," he said.

But, he said there's no way to tell yet if we'll see a repeat of the 2017 floods along the south shore of the lake, which caused property damage and loss of homes and businesses. He says the current levels are largely due to heavy precipitation, which could change over the next few months.

"Most of the Great Lakes are, right now, currently above average."

He said the current levels are largely due to heavy precipitation, which could change over the next few months.

"If we see lower supplies," he said, "we’ll see levels go down." Although high precipitation has been linked to climate change, he says it's too soon to tell whether this is a trend that will continue.

In an attempt to regulate the high levels, Koralewski says the amount of water being let out of Lake Ontario is higher than average as well. But that's not enough for Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He sent a letter Saturday to the International Joint Commission, the agency that regulates water levels in the lake, to maximize outflows to bring water levels down. 

"We have complained, mightily and bitterly, to the IJC," Cuomo said Saturday in Rochester. "We'll be sending them a letter asking them to immediately expedite the release of water from the lake. We've had this conversation, I understand the connectivity between lowering the lake and corresponding bodies of water. But I know if you don't lower the level of the lake, we are going to have flooding and we are going to have a problem."

Veronica Volk is a Reporter/Producer for WXXI News. She comes from WFUV Public Radio, where she began her broadcasting career as a reporter covering the Bronx, and the greater New York City area. She later became the Senior Producer of WFUV’s weekly public affairs show, Cityscape. Originally from Ocean County, New Jersey, Veronica got her B.A. in Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University, concentrating on Media, Culture, and Society.