Lake Ontario higher than this time last year: '250 feet is an absolute disaster'

Berkeley Brean
Created: October 25, 2019 06:24 PM

GREECE, N.Y. (WHEC) — Ever since the waves of frustration started crashing into homes along Lake Ontario, homeowners told News10NBC to look at the lake levels now to predict how bad next spring could be. 

So News10NBC followed their advice, and the homeowners say they don't like what they see.


Lake Ontario’s water level is higher than it was this time last year, and the amount of water getting released at the dam in the St. Lawrence River has gone down in the last week.

Doug Dobson and his neighbor Bernie Gigas took me out to the lakefront. Dobson kept his sandbags up. He never knows when he'll need them again.

"Normally this time of year we'd probably have eight to 10 feet of sandy beach out here," Dobson said while standing on his break wall. 

The water is still two feet above that sand.

Dobson's garage has been turned into a lake level meeting place. Gigas, an engineer, has tracked lake levels and outflows every day since May and he maps everything out.

Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "The lake level right now, it stands where?"

Bernie Gigas, lives on Lake Ontario in Greece: "246.06 feet."

Brean: "And you need it to get to where by December 31st?"

Gigas: "Ideally we'd like it to get to 244.25 feet ."

Brean: "And where do you think it'll be by New Year's Eve?"

Gigas: "I don't think it'll be any lower than 245.9 feet."

Brean: "And that means what for the spring?"

Gigas: "Well there's a good possibility that we may reach 250 feet next year."

Brean: "And what does 250 feet mean?"

Gigas: "250 feet is an absolute disaster."

250 is a foot higher than Lake Ontario was at its peak this year.

Today, I spoke to Greece Town Supervisor Bill Reilich on the phone. For the last two months, he's been on the board that controls the water level. 

He admits the water level is higher than he wants, but he says this year they're going to start letting more water out in January.

Bill Reilich, Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence River Board: "We're going to be more aggressive this coming winter. We've gotten the approvals from the IJC. What we're going to see different than we've seen in the previous two years is more water let out during the winter."

What he means is they're going to let more water out through the dam in Massena in January and February. 

News10NBC is going to monitor the lake level near New Year’s, and watch what happens over the winter. 

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