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Great Lakes Today

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Experts with the board that helps regulate Lake Ontario sound cautiously optimistic that shoreline property owners won't face the kinds of flooding problems this year, that they’ve seen in recent years.

Water levels throughout the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River System are expected to peak below the record-high levels seen in 2019 and also in 2017.

Veronica Volk / Great Lakes Today/WXXI News

The start of the shipping season on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River will be delayed by at least 12 days. It’s due to the efforts to try and deal with the possibility of flooding along the lakeshore.

The International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board, which helps regulate the level of Lake Ontario to some extent through a hydroelectric dam on the St. Lawrence, recently voted to continue maximizing the water that flows out of Lake Ontario. That decision means that the start of the shipping season will be delayed until April 1.

Office of NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Twenty sites along the Lake Ontario shoreline and the St. Lawrence River have been selected for dredging in order to prevent future flooding.  Governor Andrew Cuomo made the announcement during a stop on Wednesday at Sandy Pond in Oswego County.

The first round of dredging is already complete – in Port Bay, Wayne County.

Other locations selected for dredging include Little Sodus Bay, Irondequit Bay, and Long Pond Outlet.

The international body that helps regulate water levels on Lake Ontario and in the St. Lawrence River is forecasting a return to flood-level heights this summer.

Officials released a record amount of water from Lake Ontario through the Moses Saunders Dam last month and into the beginning of February. The issue is there's also a record amount of water flowing into Lake Ontario from the Great Lakes system.

WXXI File

Outflows will be increased from Lake Ontario.

Lake Ontario is still high -- about 246 feet high. The Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board says they’re working to reduce levels as much as possible by spring.

Navigation has ended on the St. Lawrence, making it possible to increase outflows from the lake into the river substantially.

And since winter has been generally mild so far, ice formation will not be slowing down outflows in the near future.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

The board that helps regulate the level of Lake Ontario says it will continue to have some flexibility in taking steps that may help ease potential flooding along the shoreline.

The International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board helps control the level of the waterways through a dam on the St. Lawrence.

The board has been allowed to let out more water from Lake Ontario than regulations call for in recent months, because of the high level of the lake. The International Joint Commission is allowing that variance to continue until June of 2020.

Veronica Volk / Great Lakes Today/WXXI News

Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYS Attorney General Letitia James have announced an expanded lawsuit against the International Joint Commission, for “failing to implement its flood protocol for the Moses-Saunders Power Dam.”  That’s the dam that can be used to help regulate the level of water in Lake Ontario.

The IJC is the joint U.S.-Canadian agency that helps address issues concerning bodies of water that involves both countries.

The amount of water that officials on the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board are releasing from Lake Ontario into the St. Lawrence River continues to be above the usual outflows for this time of year. That's due to the fact that lake levels are still over the so-called trigger levels in the government's water management, called Plan 2014. When those levels are exceeded, the Board can deviate from the Plan, allowing for more water to be pushed into the river.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced some changes this week to his plan to build back the southern shore of Lake Ontario.

The state's Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative -- or REDI -- Commission has been meeting with people from municipalities all along the shoreline.

The state is putting aside $300 million to fund resiliency projects in these communities, which have seen major flooding in recent years.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

Greece Supervisor Bill Reilich will have a new role in overseeing Lake Ontario.

Earlier this year, the International Joint Commission decided to add two new members to the board that oversees lake level management for Lake Ontario.

Frank Bevacqua, the IJC's public information officer, says they chose Reilich to be the representative for the U.S. side because of the way he’s handled flooding along the shoreline.

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