Flooding this summer? River board doesn’t think so

Keeping water levels low

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - There’s optimism that the north country could dodge a summer of flooding along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

In 2017, many shoreline properties had sandbags barricading yards and pumps, trying to keep the water at bay.

Two years later, more flooding and more damage.

But now, the group that controls water levels is voicing optimism for 2021.

The board has been taking advantage of opportunities to remove some water beyond planned limits, approximately 7 centimeters of water, about 3 inches.” said Bryce Carmichael, U.S Section secretary for the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board.

Carmichael says the lake’s level is a few centimeters below the seasonal average, due in part to drier weather conditions over the past few months and encouraging river ice conditions. This news is promising for Corey Fram, who’s director of the Thousand Islands International Tourism Council.

“We certainly feel as though we can grow on the relative success that we had in 2020 and having manageable high-water levels to allow our facilities to be open are a big part of that,” Fram said But Carmichael says a lot of this process is a guessing game.

“A big factor is how much, you know, spring snow melt will head into the Ottawa River and then flow downstream into the St. Lawrence River,” he said, “and which those flows reach such a high point that they could possibly cause flow reductions.”

Carmichael says there are other unknowns as well, such as rain amounts, snowpack runoff ,and water levels coming off other great lakes like Lake Erie.

So, water regulators are focused on what they can control, releasing as much water as they can, as fast as they can before the lake reaches peak levels this spring.

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