WXXI AM News

IJC to review Plan 2014

Mar 4, 2020

Outflows from Lake Ontario into the Saint Lawrence are managed through the Moses-Saunders Power Dam
Credit Veronica Volk / WXXI News

After pressure from lawmakers and residents of the shoreline, the International Joint Commission is reviewing Lake Ontario regulation Plan 2014.

The plan has been controversial since its implementation. It is a set of guidelines for how high and low water levels in Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence are allowed to get before intervention. One way to mitigate these levels is letting water through a large dam across the Saint Lawrence River -- called the Moses-Saunders Power Dam.

A press release says they have received a total of $3 million combined from the US and Canadian Governments to "investigate possible improvements that could be made to Lake Ontario outflow regulation activities."

Lake Levels are high for this time of year, which residents fear will cause another flooding event in the spring.

This prompted the group that oversees the lake management plan to increase outflows at the Moses-Saunders Power Dam, in an attempt to let out as much water as possible before the spring.

Last week it was announced that the shipping season would be delayed until the first of April because outflows are so high.

Bruce Burrows is the President and CEO of the Chamber of Marine Commerce. He says this delay could have a multi-million dollar toll on the industry.

But he says he doesn’t think Plan 2014 is the problem, and doesn't think continuing high outflows will benefit shoreline communities.

"We need to look at the larger climate problem," he said via phone. "We need to come together, partner with government, and look at proper solutions -- solutions that are going to be meaningful. Real action needs to be taken to solve a real problem and that will have a lasting, real impact."

The press release from the IJC says no regulation plan could have prevented the high water but that they are committed to finding the best solutions for managing levels and flows.

All of the Great Lakes have higher water levels than average for this time of year, and higher than this time last year. High water levels caused flooding events across the Southern Shore of Lake Ontario in 2019 and 2017.