Low water levels on lake and river cause concern

Published: Aug. 19, 2022 at 3:42 PM EDT
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OGDENSBURG, New York (WWNY) - It’s dry and it has people along the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario paying attention to water levels.

According to Ogdensburg resident William Nygard, water levels are currently what they would be in October.

“I don’t know who’s incentivized for this water flow that is at 90% of what it is in May. The IJC, the 2014 plan, I don’t get it, I don’t know who benefits from this. Certainly not us,” he said.

The group he’s referring to is the International Joint Commission which controls the outflow of the water levels on the St. Lawrence River through dams near Massena.

While the IJC didn’t comment for this story, data online shows the current level of Lake Ontario is 7 inches below what’s considered average.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicts by mid-September, Lake Ontario will fall another 5 inches. The lake feeds into the St. Lawrence River.

Meanwhile, IJC data also shows the amount of water going over the dams is higher than normal right now.

“We’ve gone from three or four years ago to record highs where our street out here was flooded with water to record lows. I’ve never seen the water this low,” said William Hosmer, owner of Hosmer’s Marina in Ogdensburg.

The IJC predicts levels will remain a half foot below average for the rest of the year.

In the meantime, Nygard is continuing to press for something to be done.

“We had emergency meetings for the ‘17,’19 flood; I think we need an emergency meeting yesterday on this topic,” he said.

New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation says most counties in the state are under a drought watch. Ironically, the DEC says northern New York is considered “normal.”