WEOS Finger Lakes Public Radio

Schumer, Gillibrand criticize Lake Ontario water level management

Mar 6, 2019
Originally published on March 5, 2019 3:19 pm

Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand are calling on officials to reduce the higher than average water levels on Lake Ontario, but officials who manage the water regulation say that might not be possible.

Schumer and Gillibrand are the latest local lawmakers to criticize the International Joint Commission, which manages water levels in Lake Ontario.

Right now the levels are about a foot higher than average for this time of year, and residents on the south shore of the lake fear another disastrous flood is imminent come spring.

Public officials, as well as residents and business owners, have been asking the IJC to let more water out through the Moses-Saunders Power Dam in order to get ahead of the flooding.

But Tony David, who sits on the board that regulates outflows, says they’re already letting water out in record amounts, and its actually hurting other areas as well.

"While water levels on Lake Ontario are above average for this time of year," David said. "Water levels immediately behind the dam in the area called Lake Saint Lawrence are critically low for this time of year."

David says people need to stop focusing on water level regulation as protection from flooding

"History has shown that regulation simply can't eliminate these risks," he said.

Excess water in Lake Ontario can be caused by a variety of factors such as high rates of precipitation and snow melt, both of which are exacerbated by climate change.

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