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Weather factors help ease concerns about Lake Ontario shoreline flooding

Jason Smith
WRVO News (file photo)

The International Lake Ontario - St. Lawrence River Board, which helps regulate Lake Ontario's water levels, is cautiously optimistic that shoreline property owners won’t face the kinds of flooding problems this year, that they’ve seen in recent years.

Water levels throughout the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system are expected to peak below the record-high levels seen in 2019 and also in 2017.

Bryce Carmichael is Secretary for the U.S. section of the board, which carries out directives from the International Joint Commission. That U.S. - Canadian agency can, to some extent, affect the level of Lake Ontario by how much water is let out through the Moses-Saunders Dam on the St. Lawrence River.

Carmichael said the main reasons for the optimism about this year, are natural factors, like weather conditions and also a lower level on the Ottawa River system which has allowed the board to let more water out of Lake Ontario.

He said the board was also given the ability to deviate from Plan 2014, which sets up a framework for the water let out through the dam, but he says that wasn’t a major factor this year.

“We’re talking around the order of inches, not feet there, so that has helped as well, but really the biggest contributing factors have been the natural inflows to the lake,” Carmichael said.

But Carmichael said that shoreline residents should always keep track of any events that might change that scenario.

“It’s always a possibility if we get some kind of historic rain events that crop up one after another in the next three weeks, we could see conditions worsen but the risks are much lower than they were earlier this spring.” Carmichael said that right now, while the level of Lake Ontario is above average, it is still well below the peak that caused so many problems along the shoreline last year.

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.