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Efforts to reduce Lake Ontario levels continue

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Fri, Jun 23rd 2017 04:15 pm
In its conference call Monday, the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River board agreed to continue efforts to further reduce high Lake Ontario levels.
The outflow from Lake Ontario was increased from 10,200 m3/s (cubic meter per second, also 360,200 cubic feet per second) to 10,400 m3/s (367,300 cfs) on June 14, resulting in the highest flow that has ever been continuously released from Lake Ontario for a sustained period.
The level of Lake Ontario has declined 11 cm (4.3 inches) since the peak level of 75.88 m (248.95 feet) last recorded on May 29. Water levels downstream on the St. Lawrence River at Lake St. Louis near Montreal have declined 15 cm (5.9 inches) since June 12.
With the weather conditions forecast over the coming days, water levels are expected to continue to fall, with the rate of decline depending on rainfall.
On Monday, Lake Ontario was 75.77 m (248.6 feet), 72 cm (28.3 inches) above its long-term average level for this time of year. The level at Lake St. Lawrence was average, while the level at Lake St. Louis was 22.12 m (72.6 feet), 78 cm (30.7 inches) above average. At Montreal Harbour, the level was 83 cm (32.7 inches) above average. Downstream, the flooding that has caused evacuations around Lake St. Peter is subsiding.
The board has, therefore, agreed to continue to release a continuous flow of 10,400 m3/s (367,300 cfs) to provide additional relief to all those affected by record-high water levels on Lake Ontario, without worsening the impacts to other stakeholders within the system. The board, St. Lawrence Seaway, operators of Moses-Saunders dam and navigation agencies will continue to monitor and evaluate the water levels, water supplies and the outflow during this period of extreme conditions.
St. Lawrence Seaway authorities have imposed significant limits on navigation and taken additional safety precautions for the duration of the higher flow rates.
Recreational boaters on the St. Lawrence River have also been advised of the high outflows and currents. Water levels on the lower St. Lawrence River near Montreal have also continued to decline despite the increased outflows. Based on current observations, additional impacts of the higher flow rates are minimal.
The board continues to monitor the system and will confer again on June 30. More detailed information is available online at http://ijc.org/en_/islrbc.
State Parks reminds boaters of speed limit
Peak summer boating season arrives in flood-impacted regions
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation reminds all boating operators along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River to observe the 5-mile-per-hour speed limit within 600 feet of the shore as a result of the prolonged flooding in the region. Under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's direction, implementing this speed limit will help control wakes and help reduce the impacts to shorelines and infrastructures.
"As schools let out for the summer, many boaters are heading to their favorite destinations on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River for the first time. State Parks reminds those operators to follow the reduced speeds to help prevent more erosion along the coastline and ensure the safety of all boaters from any potential accidents," State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said.
Reduced speeds are necessary to ensure safe boating, as many hidden hazards and debris have been covered by elevated water levels and can threaten boaters. Waves created by boat wakes can exacerbate shoreline erosion, further threatening residential and municipal infrastructure. Reducing speeds will also result in reduced boat wakes and lessen the wave action along the shores.
Last month, Cuomo directed State Parks to implement a 5-mile-per-hour speed limit to control wakes within 600 feet of the Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River shoreline as part of the state's ongoing response to coastal flooding in the region. With the summer season underway, his office said it is vital boaters continue to follow these restrictions as water levels remain at a historic high throughout the river system.
State agencies are continuing to work with municipalities to educate boaters and have positioned digital message boards at strategic locations throughout the region, including the Village of Lewiston.
Under normal conditions, boaters are required to obey the 5-mile-per-hour speed limit within 100 feet of the shore, dock, pier, raft, float or anchored boat. When no speed limit is posted, vessels must always be operated in such a fashion so as not to endanger others. A vessel must be able to stop safely within the clear space ahead, and a vessel operator is always responsible for any damage caused by the vessel's wake.
In addition to a vessel's speed, the one piece of safety equipment all boats must carry is the life jacket. All life jackets carried on board a vessel must be serviceable, readily accessible, and of the appropriate size for the wearer. A serviceable life jacket must be free of rot, tears, punctures or waterlogging. All straps and buckles must be attached and fully functional. Readily accessible means the personal flotation device must be quickly reachable in an emergency situation.

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