High lake levels cause worry in Orleans

Photo by Tom Rivers: This photo from May 7, 2017 shows members of the National Guard stacking sandbags in Kendall, when a high Lake Ontario was chewing up the shoreline. Orleans County officials don't want to see a repeat of that scene.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 February 2019 at 9:12 pm

Orleans County officials hope Lake Ontario doesn’t turn destructive to property along the southshore this year.

Two years ago the lake was much higher than normal, especially in the spring, and the high waters eroded big chunks of backyards and shoreline.

Many property owners are still waiting to put in stronger breakwalls and other protections to safeguard their land, said Dale Banker, the county’s director of emergency management.

He said the lake levels are up about 15 to 16 inches above the average for this time of year. In 2017 there was record rainfall in the spring which caused the lake to rise well above average.

County officials also fault Plan 2014, which was approved by the U.S. and Canadian governments, for the rising waters two years ago.

There is a supply of sandbags and aquadams – tubes filled with water – that can be deployed to help protect property if the lake turns destructive, Banker said.

The current lake level is a concern for the southshore emergency management officials, he told county legislators this afternoon.

“We’re watching it,” he said. “If it stays a foot and a half higher than usual, we’ll get our rear ends handed to us again.”

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