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Lake Ontario water levels peak early, decline expected to continue, says IJC

The International Joint Commission says water levels in Lake Ontario have peaked and are declining. They do not expect levels to rise up to those seen last year, that caused widespread flooding.
The International Joint Commission says water levels in Lake Ontario have peaked and are declining. They do not expect levels to rise up to those seen last year, that caused widespread flooding. Beattie Films

The International Joint Commission (IJC) says water levels in Lake Ontario reached their peak early this year, and have been declining ever since.

As a result, the IJC said it will end deviations it took from Plan 2014, which some in the region, including local politicians, have blamed for extreme flooding seen in eastern Ontario in 2017 and 2019.

READ MORE: International Joint Commission announces changes that could ease springtime flooding

In later November 2019, following outcries from Belleville-region politicians to repeal Plan 2014, the IJC gave the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board permission to deviate from the plan, which controls water levels for the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system.

The board was then able to control the outflows of Lake Ontario by opening the Moses-Saunders Dam in Cornwall to reduce the risk of high water in Lake Ontario for 2020,

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On Friday, the IJC announced that their time allotted to deviate from the plan had ended, and that they would be reinstating measures from Plan 2014.

The organization said Lake Ontario water levels had peaked on May 5, rising to 75.40 metres, which was 10 centimetres below the “general flood stage” and over a half metre lower than the peak seen last year, that caused widespread flooding in eastern Ontario.

READ MORE: Thousand Islands Association increasingly frustrated with IJC’s Plan 2014

“Lake levels are expected to continue their seasonal decline through summer, and have fallen 6 centimetres from the crest to date,” the IJC said.

The IJC said low precipitation over the last few weeks have been the main contributor to the decline in water levels in Lake Ontario, but credited the changes made to the Plan 2014 measures as well.

“The peak level of Lake Ontario is still well above average, but was reduced by 18 centimetres owing to deviations from Plan 2014,” the IJC said.

Durham residents prepare for flooding during pandemic
Durham residents prepare for flooding during pandemic