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Lake Ontario flooding update meeting in Porter

Sat, Aug 12th 2017 09:00 am
IJC announces new plan to reduce lake outflows
By Terry Duffy
The Town of Porter will hold a follow-up meeting for lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario property owners and related interests who have been affected by the flooding/erosion conditions of this past spring. The session will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 17, at Porter Town Hall, 3265 Creek Road.
The meeting announcement follows on recent news by the International Joint Commission that it would curtail the record outflows from Lake Ontario that have been in place for the past several weeks under its 2014 Plan. Efforts were taken to alleviate what had been historically high water levels in the lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario shoreline areas of the state.
IJC said the extended high outflows out of Lake Ontario (10,400 m3/s, 367,300 cfs) through the Moses-Saunders Dam located between Massena, New York, and Cornwall, Ontario, have created hazardous conditions for shipping and recreational interests in the St. Lawrence River.
Water levels in Lake Ontario have declined by close to 12 inches from record levels in late May, according to recent reports by the Army Corps of Engineers.
"Since water levels on Lake St. Lawrence decrease with higher outflow from Lake Ontario, the unprecedented outflow from the Moses-Saunders Dam have resulted in well below average levels on Lake St. Lawrence," the IJC said. "Furthermore, as water levels on Lake Ontario decline and the outflow remains (at 10,400 m3/s, 367,300 cfs) velocities in the upper St. Lawrence River will increase, resulting in hazardous conditions for shippers and recreational boaters. ...
"The board understands that high water levels and high outflows continue to impact the public and businesses on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Currently, the impacts of falling levels and increasing current velocities in Lake St. Lawrence and the St. Lawrence River are increasing as Lake Ontario levels drop. In the interest of providing all possible relief to riparian owners, while balancing the safety risks associated with increased current velocities, outflows from Lake Ontario will need to be gradually reduced."
Announcing it now intends to reduce the Lake Ontario outflows to 9,910 m3/s (349,970 cfs), IJC said, "This new outflow will be a record high for that time of year to provide all possible relief from high water levels in Lake Ontario while balancing the impacts downstream. Water levels are expected to continue to decline rapidly into the fall throughout the system, and outflows from Lake Ontario will remain high. The board, in conjunction with its staff, continues to monitor and reassess conditions on an ongoing basis."
Responding to the IJC announcement, Gov. Andrew Cuomo blasted the outflow reduction decision, calling the move "reckless" and demanding the commission reinstate the earlier flow rate.
"Once again, the International Joint Commission has demonstrated extreme disregard for New Yorkers by prioritizing shipping interests over the safety and security of people living along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River," Cuomo said. He and scores of local, state and federal elected officials have been sharply critical of the IJC and its 2014 Plan.
"Water levels remain at historic highs and it is senseless to reduce outflows at this time. This decision must be immediately reversed to protect our residents, businesses and communities along the shoreline," the governor said.
Cuomo had earlier issued a declaration of disaster for all affected shore areas of New York state in the Lake Ontario basins, and committed $45 million in assistance to affected shoreline property owners - including those in the lower river and on the lake from Youngstown to points east.
Thursday's session at Porter Town Hall is expected to provide further information on government funding reimbursements that may be available for Niagara County-area property owners in the lower river and on the lake. The session, which follows on a July 13 information session at Porter on the Lake (see story online at www.wnypapers.com), is open to the public. Affected shoreline residents are welcome to attend.
For more information, contact Porter Councilman Larry White at Porter Town Hall at 716-745-3730.

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