Higher than average water levels along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River could increase the risk of ice damage along the shoreline, according to the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority.
The lake-wide water level on Nov. 27 was 75 metres, 47 centimetres higher than the average for this time of year.
“With higher than normal water levels expected, CRCA staff foresee a higher risk of ice damage along Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River shorelines through the winter months,” the CRCA stated in a news release.
Outflows from the Moses-Saunders Dam in Cornwall are 200 cubic metres per second higher than the maximum amount outlined in Plan 2014, but on the weekend, dam operators reduced outflows by 20 cubic metres per second.
The International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board tightened sluices ever so slightly to stem outflow from 8,870 cubic metres per second to 8,850 cubic metres per second.
Rob Caldwell, secretary of the river board, said the “stepdown is in march step with the decline of Lake Ontario levels.”
Last month, the International Joint Commission instructed the board to “deviate” from Plan 2014 in an effort to lower water levels along the lake and river above the dam.
The change came after the Eastern Ontario Mayors’ Caucus unanimously passed a motion demanding the IJC scrap Plan 2014 and revert back to the water management system that was previously in place.
Plan 2014, the IJC’s updated water management plan, went into effect in the fall of 2016. Before that, Plan 1958 had governed the water flow for decades. In the spring of 2017 — not long after the new plan came into effect — an all-time high water level was recorded.
A new record was again set in 2019.
The IJC cites high rainfall, snow melt and climate change as the main culprits for the high water levels.
That argument was bolstered by a report commissioned by John Yakabuski, minister of natural resources and forestry, that pinned the blame for this year’s flooding on “the sheer amount of water” from rainfall and snow melt in the spring of 2019.
Property owners and political leaders along the river say Plan 2014 contributed to historically high water levels in the Upper St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario, causing irreparable harm to shoreline properties.
“Significant precipitation and snow melt around the Lake Ontario basin, combined with record inflows from Lake Erie, set a new record for total water supply to Lake Ontario for the month of May, exceeding the previous record set in 2017,” wrote the report’s author, independent consultant and engineer Douglas McNeil.
The Great Lakes continue to experience high water levels heading into winter, McNeil said, and “many people and properties continue to be at risk.”
With files from Postmedia Network