Low water expected on St. Lawrence River this summer

In this July 2018, file photo, a section of the St. Lawrence River looking west from the base of Brookdale Avenue in Cornwall, Ont. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – After sending lots of water out of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River in January and February, the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board says the level is now too low.

That’s because there was less spring rain and runoff than expected.

The board had deviated from Plan 2014 and removed 9.4 centimeters (3.7 inches) of water from Lake Ontario after it was approved by the International Joint Commission.

It was based on a risk analysis showing a 28 per cent chance water levels could exceed the high water mark this spring.

“Due to reduced spring runoff, the board has decided to reduce outflows below those specified by the plan to restore the extra water removed during winter to Lake Ontario,” the board said.

The latest deviation, which started Saturday (April 10), will allow Lake Ontario to rise 2 centimeters (0.8 inches) a week for the next three weeks, before the board moves back to Plan 2014.

The board expects water levels below the long-term average this summer unless there’s “very wet weather” and Lake St. Lawrence will likely be “significantly below average…levels this spring and summer.”

As of Wednesday last week (April 7), Lake St. Lawrence at the Long Sault Dam was at 72.8 meters (238.9 feet) while the average for this time of year is 73.5 meters (241 feet). Lake Ontario was 74.6 meters (244.7 feet) with the average being 74.9 meters (245.6 feet).

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