International Joint Commission is slowing water removal in Lake Ontario

Posted at 6:08 PM, Aug 09, 2017

Effective midnight, August 8th, the International Joint Commission (IJC), which is in charge of monitoring and assessing the water levels in Lake Ontario, announced that they would be lessening the amount of water they are removing from Lake Ontario by almost 8 million gallons per minute, or 1 percent. 

This comes as Lake Ontario's historically high water levels have caused damage to homes and docks along the water. 

"The damage now has to be repaired so how they're going to do that I don't know" Mary Clark, a member of the Wilson community since 1979, said. 

The reason for the decrease is due to safety concerns. As Lake Ontario's water drops, the difference in levels between the Lake and the Saint Lawrence River can create dangerous scenarios.

"There are unsafe conditions for ships. The (water) was reduced by a small amount (1%)." IJC PIO Frank Bevacqua said. 

Massive currents can begin to pick up increasing flooding/erosion, and creating navigational and recreational issues. 

Removing water from Lake Ontario is incredibly important for homeowners along the shores right now. The current level, which is 247.9 feet, would need to drop "a few feet" lower to reach the normal level according to Bevacqua. 

The Lake has already dropped 14 inches since May due to the IJC removing so much water. That is why New York Governor Andrew Cuomo believes they are making a mistake slowing the progress. 

In a statement, Gov. Cuomo said, "Once again, the IJC has demonstrated extreme disregard for New Yorkers by prioritizing shipping interests over the safety and security of people living along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Water levels remain at historic highs and it is senseless to reduce outflows at this time."

In response to this, the IJC said that they are not showing disregard, and that there is no easy fix to this problem.  

"The shoreline property owners are our priority, but there are other considerations," Bevacqua said, "I think if the Governor were in our shoes, his message might be different."

The ultimate goal for the IJC is to return the Lake to a normal level, while keeping the communities safe.