With other Great Lakes high, Lake Ontario vulnerable to flooding again next year

Photo by Kristina Gabalski: Dr. Dan Barletta addresses a United Shoreline rally held last Friday at Hilton High School in Monroe County.

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 3 August 2017 at 7:26 am

HILTON – Members of United Shoreline will hold their next rally Friday, August 11, at the L.A. Webber High School Auditorium in Lyndonville.

Organizers say the rally begins at 7 p.m., and the featured topic of discussion will be “Managing the Immediate Moment.”

The most recent rally held on Friday drew lakeshore property owners to Hilton High School in Monroe County. Speakers included State Senator Joseph Robach, Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo and Dr. Daniel Barletta, an expert on lake level management, who warned the IJC that Plan 2014 would cause devastating flooding and erosion along the south shore of Lake Ontario.

Barletta served on the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Study Board which advised the IJC, and is director of the Lake Ontario Riparians Alliance (LORA).

Barletta provided those in attendance with scientific background on the Lake Ontario Watershed and the complex system which forms the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Drainage Basin.

He explained that 15 percent of water entering the basin comes from local watershed runoff, precipitation and evaporation, and 85 percent comes from inflow from Lakes Erie, Michigan, Huron and Superior.

The Moses-Saunders Power Dam near Massena, NY, is the “point of control” for Ontario lake levels, Barletta said.

He also gave a detailed account of the previous lake level plan – which dates to the 1950’s – and the process which lead to its replacement with Plan 2014, which was implemented earlier this year.

Barletta argued the IJC knew south shore counties would be hit hardest by the high and low water levels in Plan 2014, but included no mitigation or compensation plans for damage that would be caused.

Current triggers in place with Plan 2014 are set too high and will not protect the south shore from extremes in lake levels, Barletta said.

“Avoidance of lake level extremes is difficult,” he said.

Barletta also predicted more problems next year, as Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie are currently at above-average levels.

“All of that will be coming here next,” Barletta warned.

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo, who recently traveled to Washington DC to meet with federal officials regarding Plan 2014 and lakeshore flooding and erosion, said she will continue to push for assistance from FEMA and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

She called the implementation of Plan 2014, “like a science experiment gone bad,” and said leaders must make sure that the flooding and erosion of this year is not repeated.

Dinolfo encouraged lake front property owners to continue in their fight and to “document, document, document,” results of flooding and high water levels.  She called the work of United Shoreline, “incredibly, incredibly important…. we are continuing to work one on one with you,” she said.

Return to top