KINGSTON – Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority (CRCA) has extended the Water Safety Statement (in effect since October 8, 2019) for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River today due to persistently higher than average water levels.
The International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board (ILOSLRB), which manages Lake Ontario outflows at the Moses-Saunders Dam in Cornwall and calculates water level forecasts, is reporting a lake-wide water level of 75.00 metres as of November 27, about 0.47 metres above average for this time of year.
The Board reports that:
Flows out of the dam remain at 200 m3/s above what is prescribed under Plan 2014 in order to accelerate the decline of water levels. The current flow rate remains well above-average and near record highs for this time of year. The Board will continue releasing high outflows above Plan 2014 maximums while considering the effects on all interests within the Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River system. As a result, high velocities in the upper St. Lawrence River are expected to persist for several weeks as efforts to lower Lake Ontario levels continue.
Although Additional opportunities to further increase outflows, however brief or incremental, are being evaluated in order to try and reduce the risk of potentially high-water levels again next spring, ILOSLRB water level forecasts clearly predict that 2020 will begin with above average water levels. If “very dry” conditions persist for several months it could result in average water levels at some point next year, whereas “very wet” conditions could produce the highs of 2017 or 2019. It is more likely that water levels somewhere in between will result next year.
Residents are reminded that water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River are largely dictated by rainfall events, inflows from inland lakes and streams, and flows from the other Great Lakes upstream, which also remain high for this time of year. What this means in simple terms is that above average water levels are expected next year, leading to increased risk of localized flooding and erosion. No different from previous years, water levels next year will largely depend on weather conditions.
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 is urging residents to take care along shorelines. Following recent weather events, unsafe/unstable banks have been reported due to recent erosion. Recent high water and wave action has deposited debris along shorelines and beaches.
If you witness flooding and require assistance, your first point of contact is the local municipality. CRCA does not provide sandbags. However, information about where to purchase sandbags is provided at www.crca.ca/flood. Residents are reminded that it is the property owner’s responsibility to properly dispose of sandbags and sand, which is considered hazardous waste, and any other debris that may have been deposited along the shoreline.
Any work along shorelines (e.g. placement of fill, armour stone, etc.) will require a permit from the CRCA. Call our office or visit our website http://www.crca.ca for further information. CRCA appreciates feedback from the public and municipal staff detailing flooding and erosion impacts. Please report observations on the online form at http://www.crca.ca/flood.
Staff will continue to monitor ILOSLRB forecasts, Surface Water Monitoring Centre Provincial Statements, and local water levels, and update CRCA messaging as needed. This Watershed Conditions Statement will remain in effect until (or updated before) 11:59 PM January 29, 2020.
For further information on water levels, wind and wave forecasts, and Provincial flood messages visit http://www.crca.ca/flood.