IJC ‘very concerned’ about record high water levels
‘This situation is not what any of us would wish for, and unfortunately there are no easy solutions.’ – International Joint Commission
The International Joint Commission, which tries to regulate water levels on Lake Ontario, said it has been releasing weekly outflows of water “as high as any recorded in the past 100-plus years to provide relief to Lake Ontario riparians.”
The IJC, which has faced heavy criticism for the flooding and erosion along Lake Ontario, said a wet April followed by record rainfall during the first weeks on May has pushed lake levels to record highs, nearly 3 feet above the long-term averages for this time of year.
The Orleans County Legislature on May 24 called on the firing on the IJC commissioners, three each from Canada and the United States. County officials for the past three years expressed their concerned that a new lake level management plan would lead to flooding.
“We told them it would harm us,” Lynne Johnson, vice chairwoman of the Orleans County Legislature, said on May 24. “The International Joint Commission has failed us and they failed all the southshore counties along the lake.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency for the southshore counties. Many property owners have lost 10 feet or more of land to the lake, which is creeping closer to homes.
The IJC posted this statement on Wednesday on its Facebook page:
“The past several weeks have been a difficult and trying time across the Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River basin. The Board is very concerned with the unprecedented record high water levels and the severe impacts being felt by stakeholders throughout the system.
“The Board understands that homes and businesses have been damaged by flooding, that coastal areas are suffering erosion, that docks are submerged and some marinas unusable. We’ve heard of lost business and jobs, and of physical and emotional hardships that have been endured for several weeks and continue to be felt across the region. This situation is not what any of us would wish for, and unfortunately there are no easy solutions.
“Water levels currently remain high throughout the Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River system. The Board is actively working to limit the impacts to shoreline residents. Outflows have been adjusted since April to balance impacts of flooding upstream and downstream.
“Since May 24th, the Board has been releasing weekly outflows as high as any recorded in the past 100+ years to provide relief to Lake Ontario riparians. Therefore continuing high flows from Lake Erie and extended periods of rain have resulted in Lake Ontario water levels remaining relatively stable over the past few weeks.”