OTTAWA – Responding to record flooding in two of the last three years in the Great Lakes and along the St. Lawrence River, the International Joint Commission announced on Friday that it will deviate from its ‘Plan 2014’ management plan.
The IJC announcement on November 21st means that water levels on Lake Ontario will be lowered this fall and winter to below normal levels to allow for a higher than normal expected run off in the spring of 2020.
“The Board has been reviewing data from the past three years to better understand when potential opportunities to deviate from Plan 2014 might be available over the next several months, and what the effects of such deviations might be on water levels and interests throughout the Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River system,” said an IJC media release.
Water levels on Lake Ontario and on the St. Lawrence River between Kingston and Lake St. Francis are controlled by the IJC’s International Lake Ontario St. Lawrence River board.
The ILOSLR’s adherence to Plan 2014 was blamed, in part, by government officials and residents on both sides of the international border for the record shoreline flooding in 2017 and 2019.
Under the IJC authority, the ILOSLR board will operate the Moses-Saunders dam, and Long Sault Control Dam with higher than Plan 2014 outflows until further notice.
Throughout the summer of 2019, water outflow through the two dams were at the maximum allowed at 10,400 cubic metres per second. This created faster-than-normal currents, prompting the St. Lawrence-Seaway to issue safety advisories for ships and speed restrictions.
The IJC has given the ILOSLR board permission to deviate from the Plan 2014 model until June 2020.
Since its implementation in 2016, the IJC’s management plan for the international section of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River has been called into question by residents and business owners in Ontario and New York State.
The plan has been blamed for being unable to respond to unusually wet springs in 2017 and 2019, along with causing record low water levels in the St. Lawrence River and Lake St. Lawrence during the summer 2018 season.