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IJC meets to help lower lake levels

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IJC Lake Ontario Rising Water Levels

A meeting was held today in Washington D.C. that could impact the flooding that has been happening all along the Lake Ontario shoreline and the surrounding waterways.

Those that govern the lake level met to discuss what options they have. That mainly involved the International Joint Commission, or IJC.

Lake water levels, according to the IJC, are at or above the trigger level that applies to this year. This is due to a rapid rise in water levels. 17.3 inches in April was the third largest increase ever for April since 1918. The water level is the highest it has been since 1993.

This has caused major problems along the southern lake shore of Lake Ontario, and Greece Town Supervisor Bill Reilich says it has been a constant battle. “We haven’t had any help from the International Joint Commission,” said Reilich. “They seem to not have acknowledged that their decision needs to be modified.” 

Those are from Plan 2014, a more than decade long collaboration that went into effect at the beginning of 2017. This plan is designed to regulate water levels in a way that will help preserve the natural state of Lake Ontario.

Frank Sciremammano works with the IJC and says the plan normally would have them move some of this water into the St. Lawrence River. This situation is anything but normal, with water levels already above flood stage in the St. Lawrence.

“Unfortunately, it’s a little late because the downstream situation is even more critical,” said Sciremammano. “The St. Lawrence River is flooding. There’s hundreds of people evacuated from their homes and hundreds more where they’re isolated because the roads are closed.

Reilich calls it poor planning. “Back in December letting more flow out knowing that is was higher than normal, they waited until we were at a flood stage here with having home damage to now start talking about the levels,” said Reilich.

Sciremammano says the base level going into March was the same as it would have been pre-Plan 2014; making the wet spring the culprit.

Even still, he says Plan 2014 might prevent them from fixing the problem if waters rise in May as expected. “People are just going to have to get used to the high water because that was the intent of the plan adopted in the IJC,” said Sciremammano.

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