Meeting next week to address low water levels on St. Lawrence River

AULT ISLAND – Waterlevels on Lake St. Lawrence, the man-made lake formed from the St. Lawrence River between Iroquois and Cornwall, are among the lowest on record.

The levels have raised the ire of those who live on the lake, or use the waterway including those on Ault Island, a community that straddles South Dundas and South Stormont.

Low water levels prompted a letter to both municipal councils asking for assistance in lobbying for changes.

Water levels are regulated by the International Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence River board. The board implemented a new water level plan called Plan 2014, which according to scientists mimicked a more natural progression of levels. This plan would help with wetlands and on the shores of the lake.

The most recent water level readings released by the IJC-SLR on August 29th show water levels are an inch-and-a-half above average on Lake Ontario. Downstream from here on Lake St. Louis in Quebec, water levels are nearly six inches higher than average. Montreal harbour is a fraction of an inch higher than average. Lake St. Lawrence is one foot, three inches below average water levels this time of year.

There are a number of consequences for river users. Some of these were discussed by South Dundas council at its August 14th meeting where the letter from the Ault Island residents group was brought up.

“You see it all over the river,” said councillor Marc St. Pierre. “It’s getting quite dangerous on some of the docks, with the water levels being down so much.”

One of the items discussed was the skirting on the municipal dock in Morrisburg. Water levels are now to the point where boats can go under the skirting.

“It’s a safety risk,” St. Pierre said.

Director of recreation and facilities Ben Macpherson said it was impacting use of the boat launch, and with the re-installation of the finger docks in Morrisburg.

Further down the river, Crysler Park Marina, which is owned and operated by the St. Lawrence Parks Commission recently put out a water depth advisory for some of its slips and channels.

“It’s all very concerning,” said Cliff Steinburg with the Ault Island residents group. “It is impacting on property owners, and even on navigation on the lake.”

Steinburg has been trying to facilitate a meeting between the IJC-SLR and users for months to bring their concerns forward. That meeting will take place September 11th at the South Stormont Township Hall in Long Sault.
The meeting starts at 7 p.m.