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IJC lowers outflows from Lake Ontario, angering some property owners

Flickr, Creative Commons
The outflows of water from Lake Ontario through the Moses-Saunders Power Dam and into the St. Lawrence River are going down now that the lake's level has dropped.

The government body that regulates water levels on Lake Ontario is reducing the outflows to the St. Lawrence River. The International Joint Commission (IJC) says water levels have dropped rapidly, down 12 inches since the peak in late May. That's drawing some criticism from shoreline residents who say the move is premature.

Outflows from Lake Ontario were increased in early May and cranked up to record sustained levels in mid-June in order to ease the flooding damage that many along Lake Ontario have endured this year. While that provided some relief to shoreline property owners, it created hazardous conditions downstream for shippers and boaters in the St. Lawrence River. To balance the impacts downstream, the IJC is lowering the outflows.

Jim Jerome of Sandy Creek says that's the wrong call, especially since many in the region are again cleaning up from strong storms this weekend that produced damaging waves.

"We can't withstand this," Jerome said. "Our roads are swamps. People still can't even get into their homes. They don't know if they'll have a place to live this winter."

Jerome says the decision is very frustrating considering many people, including several New York politicians, have criticized the IJC for not increasing outflows early enough.

The outflows are dropping from 10,400 cubic meters per second to 9,910 cubic meters per second. The IJC says that's still a record for this time of year and water levels in Lake Ontario are expected to continue falling in in the coming months.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.