Rapid water rise planned to dislodge Morrisburg ship

In this provided photo by John Lester, a ship ran aground in the St. Lawrence River near Morrisburg, Ont. on Tuesday, May 29, 2018. (John Lester via Newswatch Group)

Update 4:38 p.m.: Michael Folsom of The Ship Watcher reports the Chem Norma was freed as of 4 p.m.

MORRISBURG – The International Joint Commission – St. Lawrence River Board is playing with the water levels in an attempt to dislodge a freighter stuck at Morrisburg.

The Chem Norma has been lodged on the muddy bottom of the St. Lawrence River on the edge of a decommissioned lock system (Lock 23) since Tuesday. The ship had lost its steering control before the mishap.

Attempts by three tugboats to free her – the most recent tug arriving Saturday – have been unsuccessful.

The water level change will mean residents along Lake St. Lawrence, west of Cornwall, will see water levels rapidly rise and the change will be “significant” over the next couple of days.

The flow was changed from 9,250 to 8,750 cubic meters were second (326,700 to 309,000 cubic feet per second) at 1 a.m. Sunday. The flow has since been dropped further to 7,750 cubic meters per second (273,700 cubic feet per second) at 5 a.m. today (Sunday).

“Recreational boaters, shoreline owners, campers, and other stakeholders can expect a large fluctuation in water levels on Lake St. Lawrence over the next few days.”

It will be similar situation for people along Lake St. Lawrence when the water flow was reduced in 2015 at the Moses-Saunders Hydropower Dam to allow the recovery of tugboats Lac Manitoba and LCM 131 in the river at Cornwall.

Meanwhile, downstream, the area from Lake St. Louis to Three Rivers, will see a significant drop in water levels.

All the levels are expected to return to normal once the ship is freed.