Lake Ontario

WXXI file photo

A recent report from the Government Accountability Office says that the International Joint Commission, the agency that helps regulate water levels on Lake Ontario, needs to do a better job of communicating with the public.

The report was issued last week by the GAO, which is a non-partisan watchdog agency that reports to Congress. Its report focused on the way IJC has communicated elements of Plan 2014 than the controversy over the technical aspects of the plan, which regulates water levels on Lake Ontario.

WXXI photo

Public swimming at Ontario Beach Park is now open for the 2020 season.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said that county lifeguards are on duty and swimming is permitted from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., seven days a week. Swimming is not allowed when lifeguards are not on duty. The playground, restroom facilities and changing rooms are open to the public.

WXXI photo

Researchers at RIT are working to find out how tiny particles of plastic pollution are impacting Lake Ontario. Earlier this year, the university received a $240,000 federal grant as part of the Sea Grant College Program.

Associate  Professor Christy Tyler says that much of the research so far has focused on the impact of microplastics in oceans.

But she said that lakes can be affected also, and with those freshwater bodies, the plastic particles are more likely to accumulate in the sediment of the bottom of the lake.

WXXI file photo

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 / 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.

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.


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.