IJC: Further increasing outflows would come at a huge cost

Outflows at Massena's Moses Saunders Power Dam
Outflows at Massena's Moses Saunders Power Dam
Updated: Jul. 8, 2019 at 10:45 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWNY) - The group that manages water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River reports that if it were to release water from Massena’s Moses Saunders Power Dam any faster, it could do $1.4 billion dollars in economic damage by year’s end.

In a meeting Friday, members of the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board agreed to hold outflows at 10,400 cubic meters per second, a record high. Officials say further increasing those outflows would force shipping on the St. Lawrence River to shut down.

The estimated cost? $50 million a day.

The Lake-River Board is an extension of the International Joint Commission (IJC), a bi-national organization that has set the protocol for water levels. IJC officials say increasing outflows would not only stop shipping, but would hurt recreational boating, and could possibly lead to more flooding downstream, near Montreal.

As of last week, water levels on Lake Ontario were slightly higher than those of 2017, the last time there was widespread flooding. IJC officials say they’ll continue the current outflows until the lake’s level drops another foot, which could take until mid-August, with the goal of lowering the water levels as much as possible before winter.

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