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Lake Ontario

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.

Lake Ontario experienced record-high flooding in 2019, and government officials are trying to learn how to deal with the changing reality of life on the lakeshore. Veronica Volk has been covering lake issues, and sat down with Megan Mack to talk about what’s happened.

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.

Max Schulte / WXXI News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced state funding for 63 projects across four counties along the Lake Ontario shoreline on Wednesday. It’s part of the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative, or REDI.

Cuomo said flooding along the lakeshore is the new reality, and plans to rebuild should account for higher water levels. Severe floods damaged homes and businesses in 2017, and again this year. 

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 Wednesday that the state will be suing the International Joint Commission for failing to properly manage water levels on Lake Ontario.

The governor addressed reporters and local public officials on the deck of Silk O’Loughlin’s in Irondequoit, overlooking the water.

"The facts of the matter are plain and simple," Cuomo said. "The IJC's function is to manage the lake level. That is their job, to manage the lake level. They have failed to manage the lake level. Period."

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.

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