Lake Ontario outflow reduced dramatically to prevent ice jams

Local News

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) — Major changes to outflows at the Moses-Saunders dam have taken place over the past several weeks. According to Lauren Schifferle, US Army Corps of Engineers, once shipping ended in 2019 outflows were able to be increased significantly. That is up to record levels. A large cold blast of air pushed through and that forced outflows to dramatically be reduced. 

The outflow has reduced about 100,000 cubic feet per second.

The reduction is to prevent problems with ice jams downstream that can cause major damage. It is also to protect intake valves from freezing for municipal drinking water supply. “As ice starts to form, we need a slower speed,” said Schifferle. “That lets the floating ice to aggregate together and form large pans and large sheets of ice. When ice forms in that way, it’s allowed to form a big stable sheet, that’s ideal ice because it’s stable.” 

The flow of water out of the Moses-Saunders Dam has an influence on Lake Ontario water levels as well as how much water flows into Lake Ontario. As the flow decreases, water levels likely increase. That has happened since January 9th and water levels have increased about four inches. If a large sheet of ice develops, outflows will increase dramatically. 

Water levels are higher than in the past three years at this time.

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