Officials: Lake Ontario water levels above long-term average

Regional News

MASSENA, N.Y. (WWTI) — Officials are continuing to monitor water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

The International Lake Ontario- St. Lawrence River Board has confirmed that Lake Ontario is currently above the long-term average by 34 centimeters or 13.4 inches.

According to the Board, September through November 2021 was the third wettest fall on record, which resulted in Lake Ontario experiencing the third-largest rise in water levels in October.

Specifically, the lake rose eight centimeters, or 3.1 inches, as opposed to decreasing water levels typically experienced during the fall months. Additionally, November outflows were the sixth highest on record and Lake Ontario water levels were the 13 highest.

However, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River previously experienced drought conditions in the early spring and summer of 2021, which resulted in outflow deviations.

As a result, the Board is continuing to maintain increased outflows through the Moses-Saunders Dam to return the water level of Lake Ontario to the level it would be currently if deviations were not made. These increased outflows are expected to be completed over the new few weeks.

The Board also stated that regulation plans are prescribing very high outflows through the Lake, overall the third-highest on record for this time in December. The regulation plan is set to continue high outflows throughout the winter.

Officials warned local residents that there is continuously an “unpredictable natural supply of supply water for the Great Lakes,” and said that historically high and low water levels could occur in the future.

“Great Lakes States and Provinces, in partnership with government and non-government agencies, and property owners, should continue to focus on resiliency strategies to respond to the wide range of naturally occurring water levels we continue to experience in the Great Lakes”, United States Co-Chair of the ILOSLRB Steve Durrett said in a press release.

“Water levels of the Great Lakes cannot be fully controlled through adjustment of outflows, nor can outflow adjustments eliminate the risk of extreme water levels occurring during periods of very wet and/or very dry water supply conditions,” Canadian Co-Chair of the ILOSLRB David Harper added.

The International Lake Ontario- St. Lawrence River Board said that it will continue to monitor weather forecasts, La Niña, and water supply conditions. Officials will evaluate the outflow strategy accordingly.

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