High water levels still pose threat on Lake Ontario

Updated: Oct. 16, 2019 at 4:36 PM EDT
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HENDERSON HARBOR, N.Y. (WWNY) - Record-breaking water levels along Lake Ontario are still posing a threat to homes and businesses along the shoreline.

The worst conditions of this year may have passed with summer, but as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports, water levels are still 20 inches above average.

"So we're still at a level where we cannot repair our docks," said John Killius, Henchen Marina owner.

Henchen Marina in Henderson Harbor was flooded about 15 inches this summer. That water took its toll and conditions are still dangerous.

“It’s like you’re under siege by something you can’t control,” said Killius.

The damage from the summer remains and the threat of a damaging winter and wet spring loom. As temperatures drop, ice becomes a concern.

"If it freezes, right now we're going to have a ton of damage. We had some jacking last winter because the water was too high when the ice formed," said Killius.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says in order to get the Great Lakes back to average water levels, conditions have to be ideal for coming seasons.

"We'd like to see a cool dry fall, and in the winter a lower snow pack, less snow fall would help, and a dryer spring. As our forecast right now we still expect water levels to be above average going into 2020," said Deanna Apps, physical scientist, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Killius says the International Joint Commission's Plan 2014 is to blame for these ongoing challenges.

"It's not the rain, it's the people. It's the IJC not letting water out," he said.

The IJC disagrees.

"The situation we've been facing has been largely driven by natural water supplies; there really are no actions that could've been taken that could've prevented the flood this year," said Frank Bevacqua, IJC public information officer.

"If they do not change the plan as everyone reads it or as I read it, we're done," said Killius.

The IJC says it’s “very concerned” for the outlook of 2020.

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