Lake Ontario outflows increased through mid-December to remove excess water

Environment

LAKE ONTARIO, N.Y. (WWTI) — Officials began increasing outflows from Lake Ontario this past weekend.

The International Lake Ontario- St. Lawrence River Board has increased outflows from Lake Ontario through the Moses- Saunders Dam. This began on October 16 and will continue for approximately eight weeks, through mid-December to return water levels in Lake Ontario to the level they would be if outflow deviations had not been required this past season.

“In accordance with the Directive, the Board must obtain IJC approval for strategies to return to plan flows through what is known as equivalent offsetting deviations, or payback”, Board Canadian Co-Chair David said in a press release.

“Lake Ontario remains a natural system and is not a reservoir”, United States Co-Chair Steve Durrett added.

According to the Board, drought conditions in spring 2021, caused water levels on Lake Ontario to decrease below major thresholds. The Board decreased outflows from May 29 to July 16, until water levels on Lake Ontario increased. This was required by a directive issued by the International Joint Commission.

The Board confirmed that the summer deviations maintained an extra 4 centimeters, or 1.6 inches, of water on Lake Ontario relative to Plan 2014.

Additionally, the International Lake Ontario- St. Lawrence River Board decreased outflows from October 8 to October 11 to improve conditions on Lake St. Lawrence for boat owners to remove boats at the end of the season. This then caused an increase of approximately 0.8 centimeters, or 0.3 inches of water on Lake Ontario, compared to Plan 2014.

In total, the summer and fall deviations resulted in a combined total deviation of 4.8 centimeters, or 1.9 inches. The now scheduled increase will aim to remove the access water that was maintained on Lake Ontario.

The International Lake Ontario- St. Lawrence River Board received approval from the International Joint Commission for the offsetting deviation strategy on October 12. The Board expects to return to Plan 2014 prescribed outflows in Mid-December 2021.

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