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Despite criticism, IJC lowers Lake Ontario outflows again

Veronica Volk
WXXI News (file photo)
Moses-Saunders Power Dam

For the second time this month, the International Joint Commission (IJC) has lowered water discharges from Lake Ontario. Starting at midnight Saturday, the outflows to the St. Lawrence River dropped only slightly from 9,910 cubic meters per second to 9,870 cms, which is less than 1 percent.

In a statement, the IJC says Lake Ontario has steadily declined thanks to decreasing inflows from Lake Erie, drier weather and the record-sustained outflows that were in place from mid-June to early August. It's now 17.7 inches below the peak in May and is expected to continue falling. 

The decisions to pull back on draining the Lake have frustrated property owners, who are still recovering from flooding. And New York officials continue to express their opposition to the move. Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it senseless. In a joint statement today with Sen. Patty Ritchie (R-Heuvelton) and Assemblyman Bob Oaks (R-Macedon), Oswego County Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski) said the decision "will only cause further harm to lakeshore communities" that have incurred "millions in damages." 

But the IJC says they need to balance the impacts downstream. High outflows this summer have created hazardous conditions in the St. Lawrence River for shippers and recreational boaters. And, it says this is still the hight low ever recorded at this time of year.