High waters worry officials, lakeshore landowners in Orleans

Photos by Tom Rivers: David Krull, Carlton town highway superintendent, stands near the shore of Lake Ontario, where the water is about 2 feet higher than normal. Krull said homes, cottages and land are in danger of the rising lake.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 April 2017 at 3:01 pm

CARLTON – At Captain’s Cove marina today, Sheila Schlichter worried as water went above docks and reached the marina at The Bridges.

“The water is right up to the building,” Schlichter, Captain’s Cove manager, said about 11 a.m. today.

She was checking a boat to make sure it didn’t drift away. It was still tied to the dock.

Most of Captain Cove’s docks are under water.

Sheila Schlichter, Captain’s Cove manager, looks out and sees docks submerged from the water. “The water is right up to the building,” Schlichter said.

The county has 24 miles of shoreline along Lake Ontario. Some areas are vulnerable to water levels that are about 2 feet higher than normal, and rising.

“It’s going to be horrible,” said Fred Miller, an Orleans County legislator. “We’re going to lose our land.”

He was out surveying the shoreline late this morning with representatives from Congressman Chris Collins. They were joined by Carlton Highway Superintendent David Krull, Murray Highway Superintendent Ed Morgan, and County Legislator John DeFillipps.

The county has been worried about a new plan for regulating the lake levels. The International Joint Commission, which includes representatives from the U.S. and Canada, gained final approval for the plan last year, despite the objections from many south shore communities. The officials in Orleans and on the southshore worried the new IJC plan would result in bigger swings in higher and lower lake levels. Miller said the fear is now coming true.

“This is serious,” he said about the high waters. “Even if it’s minor damage, it could be thousands of dollars.”

The water is getting close to Park Road in Carlton. Officials expect the road could be washed out by tomorrow as the lake rises and the waves get bigger.

Wayne and Niagara counties have already declared states of emergency because of Lake Ontario’s high water level, which has damaged property and flooded some areas by the lake.

Orleans County Sheriff Randy Bower last week said boaters need to stay at least 500 feet from shore to avoid creating more waves to the vulnerable shoreline.

The Army Corps of Engineers said the level of Lake Ontario is 18 inches higher than the long-term average for April, with a further rise of 11 inches forecast by mid-May, The Buffalo News reported today.

Waves are pounding against the shoreline in this spot near the Yates-Carlton townline.

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