Waves of frustration: Tracking Lake Ontario water levels

Waves of frustration: Tracking Lake Ontario water levels Photo: News10NBC.

Amanda McDonald
Updated: March 23, 2020 11:05 AM
Created: March 22, 2020 10:34 PM

GREECE, N.Y. (WHEC) — The United States Army Corps of Engineers recently reported that Lake Ontario water level is nearly nine inches above where it was at this time last year and 21 inches above the long term average water level of Lake Ontario. 

The lake level in the coming months is expected to be even higher than last year. Meteorologist Amanda McDonald spoke to Greece Town Supervisor Bill Reilich over the phone to see what he thinks about this information. 


“The elevation of the water is one factor in determining damage, the other factor that we have no idea is wind," Reilich said. "And if the wind is from a certain direction on Lake Ontario, depending on where you are, there is destruction."

McDonald also spoke with Doug Sample, a homeowner on Edgemere Drive. 

“I mean it devalues the property to the point where, if this continues and it becomes more of the norm, I don’t know if there will be a whole lot of value to it at all.”

The IJC website shows that record-high outflows have been occurring from Lake Ontario since the beginning of the year and are much higher than they were last year at the same time. 

“We would’ve been eight centimeters higher if outflows weren’t as high as they’ve been," Reilich said.

Reilich sits on the 12-member St. Lawrence River Board, which is made up of six Canadians and six Americans, all of which represent a different interest. The board has given the Robert Moses Dam authority to go to certain outflow limits. 

“The IJC has told us, since May of last year, do not follow Plan 2014, you can go over all the thresholds," Reilich said. "So, we haven’t been following Plan 2014 since May of last year.”

Reilich made clear that “the members that sit on that (IJC) board today are not the members that adopted 2014. The last group of members was very reluctant for any change or modification of the plan at all. This group has a whole different attitude. They’re saying we’ve got problems, we’ve got to do more than the plan calls for, and therefore, they gave us permission.”

“I think a lot of the residents are just hoping somebody does something right and makes a decision so that this goes back to what they remember,” Sample said. 

McDonald asked Sample if he was more concerned with the lake levels taking a back seat to the coronavirus.

“Anything on top of what’s going on, anywhere in the country right now is going to be really insult to injury for everybody," he said.

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