IJC: water levels on lake and river are 2-feet below average

Updated: Apr. 13, 2021 at 5:01 PM EDT
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TOWN OF HENDERSON, N.Y. (WWNY) - The words “low water levels” may surprise you given the drastic flooding that took place in 2017 and 2019 on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

But, the water level is visibly low; more than 2 feet below average according to the International Joint Commission, the agency which regulates water levels.

Michael Miller, general manager of Harbor’s End Marina in Henderson Harbor, says this is unusual.

“We were hoping it was going to be a little but higher. Usually when we come in the spring, it is a little low, but within a week or so it starts to creep up, but we just haven’t seen the creep yet so we’re a little nervous,” he said.

Miller says fisherman are very excited to get their boats back in the water again, but because of the low levels, some have not been able to be put out yet.

“Some areas, you know, it’s going to be too low to put a boat in water until we at least get another good foot-and-a-half, 2-feet,” he said.

To help raise the level, the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board will reduce the amount of water being let out of the Moses-Saunders Dam in Massena for the next 3 weeks.

That’s a change from the board’s plan over the winter when it was letting out water and reducing the lake’s level by more than 3.5 inches to try to reduce the risk of flooding.

“It’s not necessarily something you will notice at the end of a day or even at the end of a week, but it’s more of a long term strategy that looks at the conditions, which include the upper Great Lakes, which are still very high supply, a lot of water coming in from Lake Erie,” said Tony David, board member, International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board.

Officials say if the weather stays dry, they will continue to hold off on releasing a lot of water from the dam.

The hope is to have the water level looking more normal by May.

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