MORRISBURG – Officials from the International Joint Commission’s International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River board announced that there will be two weekends where water levels will be increased on Lake St. Lawrence to assist boaters with removal of their water craft.
According to Rob Caldwell, Canadian secretary for the ILO-SLR, the Thanksgiving weekend in Canada is the traditional weekend the water levels would be raised.
In response to input including from the recent water levels meeting held in Long Sault, the board added a second weekend to the schedule.
Water outflow from the Moses-Saunders dam will be reduced between October 5th at 7 p.m. and October 7th 4 p.m. Outflow will also be reduced between October 12th at 7 p.m. and October 14th at 4 p.m.
“Decreasing the outflows through the dam has the effect of boosting Lake St. Lawrence,” Caldwell said.
Water levels on Lake St. Lawrence are expected to increase by 58 centimetres or 23 inches at Moses-Saunders dam, and by 54 centimetres or 21 inches at the Long Sault control dam.
Along the Morrisburg waterfront, water levels are expected to increase by 44 centimetres or 17 inches during each increase period, while the water levels are expected to increase by 34 centimetres or 13 inches along the Iroquois waterfront. In Cardinal, water levels will go up by 27 centimetres or 11 inches. Caldwell said that the level of increase depends on conditions such as wind direction or speed and that the levels may vary widely.
After the two planned water level increases, Lake St. Lawrence levels are expected to return to low water levels that are currently affecting the region, with little change expected.
“It’s imperative that you plan to act during these limited opportunities,” Caldwell said.
While the extra weekend of higher water may be appreciated by boat owners, Ault Island resident Cliff Steinburg says it was the only positive information from the ILO-SRL.
“I’m disappointed they did not acknowledge any of the concerns from our September 11th meeting,” Steinburg told The Leader. “It seems like they only care about the residents living along Lake Ontario.”
Steinburg organized the water level meeting in Long Sault and believes if Lake Ontario has high water levels next year, this region will face another year of low water levels.
“We cannot allow this to happen,” he said. “It will be devastating to this area if we are faced with low water levels again next year. If we allow this to happen we will lose our tourists which will affect local businesses.”
Steinburg said perennial low water levels on Lake St. Lawrence and the St. Lawrence River will affect property values in South Dundas and South Stormont, and impact property tax revenues.
“This has to be one of the top priorities as we move into an election,” he added. “We need to try and get the appropriate federal officials involved before it is too late.”
Water levels on the St. Lawrence River between Lake Ontario and Lake St. Francis are managed by the ILO-SLR in accordance to Regulation Plan 2014. That plan went into affect in 2016, was developed by the IJC and approved by both the Canadian and United States governments.
Plan 2014 uses scientific models to manage water levels on the Great Lakes and the river, and replaced Plan 1958D which allowed for more local control in setting water levels.
Water flows through the Moses-Saunders dam are presently set at 8,060 cubic metres per second or 2.1 million gallons per second. That is equivalent to nearly four olympic-sized swimming pools per second.