Lake Outflows to Increase This Week

Lake Outflows to Increase This Week

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Water will start flowing from Lake Ontario at an even greater rate later this week, in an effort to curb the high water and flooding problem that has plagued the Lake Ontario shoreline.

The International Lake Ontario - St. Lawrence River Board of Control decided Monday to increase outflow from the lake to 10,400 cubic meters per second - up from the already very high 10,200 cubic meters per second.

"These are outflows that have never been experienced in the system before," said Arun Heer, the American secretary to the board, late Monday afternoon.

Heer said the increased outflow - basically, the water flowing through the dams in Massena - will be tested for three days, and the board will be looking to hear from people on any effects it has.

In particular, shipping on the St. Lawrence Seaway has been a concern; officials have said too strong an outflow might make the currents in the lake and river unsafe. Heer said the Seaway has "been informed of this outflow, that it's coming. They're putting mitigation measures in place.

"They'll be open but with impacts and adjustments to maintain safety."

Heer said the board "reached consensus" on the increase, as it tries to "provide all possible relief." 

This spring's high waters have been a major headache for home and cottage owners, boaters, marinas - really, anyone on or near the Lake Ontario or St. Lawrence River shore. Many of those people blame a change in how outflows from Lake Ontario are managed, the so-called "Plan 2014," although the plan's defenders have pointed out that the high water has more to do with climate and rainfall, and that rivers not connected to the St. Lawrence have also experienced high water.

Heer said Lake Ontario continues to gradually decline; it's down two centimeters since June 8, and is 6 centimeters lower than the lake's peak of 75.88 back on May 29.

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