Rapid rise to Lake St. Lawrence water levels

Salvage operations continue to remove the Chem Norma – A third tugboat arrived on the scene Saturday afternoon. Pictured above, the three tugboats attempted to pull the stuck tanker, around 6 p.m. June 2nd. (The Leader/Blancher photo)

MORRISBURG – The International Joint Commission – St. Lawrence River Board announced Saturday night that there will be a rapid rise of water levels in Lake St. Lawrence over the next couple days.

The increase is in response to the ongoing salvage operation of the Chem Norma, a tanker ship that suffered a steering malfunction early Tuesday morning and left the navigation channel. The ship struck the underwater remains of the former Lock 23 on the Morrisburg waterfront. The ship was enroute from Montréal to Sarnia.

“Seaway officials have requested a flow decrease to raise water levels temporarily to assist in her removal,” said IJC officials in a release Saturday night.

The board said recreational boaters, property owners, campers and other users can expect the water level to be comparable to when water levels are increased in the fall to assist with removing boats. Water levels are expected to drop east of the Long Sault control dam, especially on Lake St. Louis near Montreal and downstream towards Trois-Rivières, Quebec.

Officials say that once the vessel is freed, the water levels will return to normal in accordance to their operational plan. Water levels west of the Iroquois Control Dam are not expected to be significantly affected.

A third tugboat, the Ocean Tundra arrived at the salvage scene late Saturday afternoon joining the two tugboats already there. All three tugs attempted to pull the Chem Norma out of its position without success.