Lake Ontario levels impacting U.S. Coast Guard operations

Lake Ontario levels impacting U.S. Coast Guard operations

The U.S. Coast Guard at the Port of Rochester is also feeling the effects of the rising levels of Lake Ontario, and it’s having an impact on their operations.

If you’re on the waters of Lake Ontario and need assistance from the Coast Guard, you’ll have to wait for help a little longer than usual.

“Our response time could be reduced due to several reasons. One is launching our appropriate boat, or two, and it could be if the response location is in the no wake zone due to the state of emergency. So we have to be cautious of our wake just as every other boater is,” Senior Chief Jason Pata, U.S. Coast Guard said. 

Even though the rise in levels has a minimal impact on their marine operations, they’re feeling it more at their facilities. Officials say the river water is coming back up through the drainage into the parking lot and driveway and leaking into the station’s basement.

“The crew has to continue to monitor the basement for water, pump it out and clean it up. We’re spending more time managing our facilities than we normally would,” Pata said. “It does take away from our focus on the marine operations side.” 

The Coast Guard has sandbags surrounding their station and helped out placing some at the Monroe County Sheriff’s Marine Unit. They’re also urging boaters to be cautious if they head out in the waters.

“The high water it tends to dislodge a lot of large logs and debris, especially coming down the Genesee River. When your transiting, keep a lookout. Have someone always looking forward, and keep an eye out for those large logs, and they can do some serious damage, especially when your traveling at speed,” Pata said.

Authorities say if water levels continue to rise, they’ll have to move their 45-foot response boat to the Port of Rochester if needed.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have forecasted Lake Ontario will rise the water to a high elevation of 248 feet. That’s just less than six inches below the peak back in 2017.

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