Lake Ontario water level at a 50 year low
Posted at: 11/29/2012 4:41 PM
| Updated at: 11/29/2012 7:20 PM
By: Ray Levato | WHEC.com
If you check out the marinas, you'll find boats put away for the season. But that isn't stopping the worry about next season. By most accounts, Lake Ontario is at a 50 year low and for a variety of reasons.
Lake Ontario now stands at the lower end of the government's acceptable range that because of the lack of rain last summer, very little snowmelt from a mild winter and the fact that officials are letting out more water at the dam at Massena to help out with low water levels in the St. Lawrence River at Montreal.
The level of Lake Ontario is reflected in the level of Irondequoit Bay, which empties into the lake. And at the southern end of the bay off Empire Boulevard, sandbars are visible where the water should be.
Ken Strimple, Bayside Boat and Tackle, said, “We normally have a great rental season over Labor Day. We unfortunately couldn't even launch any boats.”
Captain Ken Strimple owns Bayside Boat and Tackle. He said spring 2011, the water was over his docks at times. Now they are high and dry.
Strimple said, “It's just mud. It's just dirt. There's absolutely no water.”
And he showed News10NBC where the receding water revealed a snowmobile that apparently fell through the ice years ago when there was water and winter ice here.
Strimple said, “I just had a gentlemen who is 72 years old, and he said in his lifetime, he's never seen it this way.”
Danny Daniele, Southpoint Marina, said, “I know this isn't the lowest it's ever been, but in my lifetime, it's definitely the lowest I've ever seen it.”
Danny Daniele's family owns Bazil restaurant and Southpoint Marina. Daniele says Southpoint spent $600,000 to dredge 186 docks and a channel out to the bay. They hope to add about 200 more docks.
Daniele said, “So as you can see behind me, the water depths behind me are fine. The boats are okay. We haven't had a problem in three years. It certainly does us no good to have spent the money here to dredge our marina, if we can't get to other marinas and out to the lake from here.”
Captain Strimple thinks dredging the bay outlet to allow for bigger boats may have worked against boaters.
Strimple said, “Irondequoit Bay dredging, whenever they did that, obviously is going to let the bay dredge faster rather than being its own body of water that would stay at a certain level.”
Daniele said, “A lot of residential properties can't dock their boats anymore. A lot of the restaurants on the water you can't go there and eat. And it really diminishes the fun and excitement of being on the water.”
The lake is always lowest in the winter, but nothing like this. Homeowners on the south shore of Lake Ontario, for the most part, like low water levels. The remnants of Hurricane Sandy didn't do extensive damage because the waves didn't crash into the homes like they can do during times of high water.
Environmentalists say they are benefits to low water in Lake Ontario. They're trying to get the International Joint Commission to devise a new regulatory plan for more highs and more lows. Dr. Douglas Wilcox, a professor at the College at Brockport who studied this at length, says periods of high and low water are normal over time. Times of low water can allow native plant species to rejuvenate and fight off invasive species like cattails, even rejuvenate fish and waterfowl habitat.