Boat race canceled because of lake levels

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) - The International Joint Commission is taking action to address the record-breaking Lake Ontario water levels. Today it announced it will increase the outflow of the lake into the St. Lawrence River.

It can do that now, because water levels have dropped on the Ottawa river. The IJC notes it could still take weeks for the levels to return to more average conditions as long as drier conditions continue.

The drop in water level height will be slow, and Rob Reisch hates to be the bearer of bad news. "Getting out on the water safely will require almost a two foot drop in the lake level," said Reisch.

Reisch is the Scotch Bonnet Light Race organizer, and says a drop like that will take something like ten weeks. "June 23 is the the start of the event, and there's just not enough time for Mother Nature to lower the lake levels."

It is important to have at least a few days to get a boat prepped for the race and without any time in the water, bad things can happen. "Sailing across the lake may not be a good idea," said Reisch.

Rochester yacht club may have fish swimming in the parking lot, but they are still sailing according to commodore Dan Peck.

"We are a little bit restricted, but we're operating as normal as possible every day," said Peck. That means about three days of racing a week, compared to around five. The smaller boats are not much of a problem. The bigger boats have to worry about what the high water takes with it.

"We caution all of our sailors and participants out on the water at this time of year to keep an extra eye out for floating debris," said Peck. Blue sky and warm temperatures bring out boaters, and it that will only continue for Memorial Day.

"People are going to get the itch to boat no matter how high the water level is, we just have to be ready to accommodate with them." The yacht club has a boat parade on Memorial Day, that may or may not get canceled.

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