Plan 2014 (High Lake Levels)

scotto

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With Lake Ontario water levels declining, Board adjusts outflow strategy

Date
May 29, 2020
Lake Ontario levels peaked early this year at 75.40 m (247.38 ft.) on 5 May, 10 cm (4 inches) below the general flood stage and over a half meter (20 inches) lower than the peak in 2019. Lake levels are expected to continue their seasonal decline through summer, and have fallen 6 cm (2 in.) from the crest to date.
Lower Lake Ontario levels and the continuing high outflows are causing increased currents in the upper St. Lawrence River and also extremely low levels on Lake St. Lawrence, the forebay just upstream of the Moses-Saunders Power Dam. The International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board has assessed the situation carefully and, if necessary, will act to augment low levels at this location over the coming weeks.
The Board’s extended general deviation authority (as granted by the International Joint Commission (IJC) on 9 October 2019) has ended. The Board is no longer deviating by releasing outflows above Plan 2014 prescribed flows, since Lake Ontario reached its peak and began its seasonal decline. The peak level of Lake Ontario is still well above average, but was reduced by 18 cm (7 in.) owing to deviations from Plan 2014. These deviation totals accumulated over the past several months as the Board attempted to remove as much water as possible from Lake Ontario, prior to spring.
Drier conditions have prevailed in recent weeks, including around Lake Ontario and in the Ottawa and lower St. Lawrence River basins. These are the primary reasons for the recent decline in Lake Ontario levels, which has occurred despite very high inflows from the extremely high upper Great Lakes. These high inflows will continue for the foreseeable future and, in response, Plan 2014 will continue to prescribe very high outflows, which will enhance Lake Ontario’s seasonal decline.
However, the lower and declining levels on Lake Ontario combined with the high outflows through the Moses-Saunders Power Dam that will continue are resulting in very low levels on Lake St. Lawrence that are anticipated to persist for months to come. This will be the fourth straight summer of well-below-average levels of Lake St. Lawrence, which responds much more rapidly and significantly to increases in outflows than the much larger Lake Ontario upstream. Had the Board not deviated and removed water from Lake Ontario since last spring, Lake St. Lawrence would currently be approximately 14 cm (6 in.) higher.
On a 22 May teleconference, the Board agreed to tap into the accumulated water removed from Lake Ontario, if needed, to maintain levels on Lake St. Lawrence above 73.0 m or 239.50 ft (40 cm or 16 inches above the usual navigation-season low limit) until after the 7 September long weekend. As the Board returns to plan flows, Lake St. Lawrence is expected to remain above this threshold for several weeks unless winds cause it to temporarily fall below.
Note that maintaining Lake St. Lawrence levels above 73.0 m (239.5 ft) under actual conditions wetter than normal will require no flow reductions which might cause higher Lake Ontario levels. Wet conditions would cause higher Lake Ontario levels, which would result in Lake St. Lawrence levels above 73.0 m, even with high outflows. Maintaining Lake St. Lawrence levels would also have no impact on levels heading into 2021 under such wet conditions and the Board emphasizes that lake level and other conditions at the end of 2020 are poor indicators of what levels will be like in 2021. The primary factors are what Lake Erie inflows and Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River basin snowmelt, runoff and precipitation conditions are experienced next spring.
Augmenting Lake St. Lawrence levels may occur if very dry conditions result in lower Lake Ontario levels. At most, this would result in Lake Ontario levels up to 8 cm (3.2 in.) higher by 7 September than what they would be without this strategy, but only under the very driest water supply scenarios where Lake Ontario is much lower on its own. Most scenarios result in much smaller differences. Differences will be further reduced through the fall, such that, by the end of 2020, there is expected to be almost no difference in levels throughout the Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River System.
Shoreline businesses and property owners are reminded that the GLAM Committee continues to host an online questionnaire to allow for direct reporting on impacts related to recent high water conditions that can be incorporated into the expedited review effort. The 2020 version of the questionnaire is now available on the GLAM Committee's website: https://ijc.org/glam/questionnaire
Information on hydrologic conditions, water levels and outflows, including graphics and photos, are available on the Board’s website and posted to the Board’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/InternationalLakeOntarioStLawrenceRiverBoard (English), and more detailed information is available on its website at https://www.ijc.org/en/loslrb.
https://ijc.org/en/loslrb/lake-ontario-water-levels-declining-board-adjusts-outflow-strategy
 

scotto

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Another drop in the lake water level for the month of July, our canal water level meter shows a drop of about eight inches. Hopefully the trend continues over the next few months. The somewhat dry weather has helped but all the upper lakes are still well above normal levels and all that water still has to end up in Lake Ontario.
July2020.JPG


The monthly graph shows the decline in level and the blue line represents 76 meters above sea level, this was the levels we reached back in 2017 and 2019.
July2020.jpg
 

scotto

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Rising waters
Experts say humans can't control Great Lakes water levels
By Sheri Mcwhirter smcwhirter@record-eagle.com
1596479301263.png

May 16, 2020

TRAVERSE CITY — Great Lakes water levels are shattering high records and the experts agree there is rather little that can be done to change that — the environment is almost entirely in control.

“The reality is Mother Nature is going to overtake us,” said Bernd Gigas, consulting engineer for Lake Ontario South Shore Engineering.

A series of experts in hydrology, engineering, shoreline protection, emergency management and environmental law spent hours this week talking and answering questions during online webinars about the ongoing high water levels on the Great Lakes. Both nonprofits Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council in Petoskey and Great Lakes Coalition in Saugatuck hosted the online events Thursday and Friday, respectively.

The consensus among the experts was the natural environment is far more in control than humans could ever hope to be, and the best way to cope may well be to simply back up from the water’s edge.

Countless homeowners along the shorelines of the Great Lakes have watched the water get closer and closer, and the water gobble up more land with every storm. Many are left wondering how to protect their homes from literally splashing into the rising waters.

Jennifer McKay, policy director with the Petoskey-based agency, said that ultimately, it is often more cost-effective and environmentally sound for shoreline property owners to move their homes further away from the water. It can be done for between $12 and $16 per square foot, she said.

However, many shoreline homeowners instead try to hold back the big lakes and their effects.

“We see excessive or poorly designed structures that can increase damage to neighboring properties and disrupt natural processes along the shoreline,” McKay said.

Adding boulders, seawalls or other hardening methods doesn’t help absorb wave energy, forcing that energy downward and sideways. That results in scouring the lake bottom and often undercutting the structure, or causing undue erosion on neighboring properties, McKay said.

She said those methods are no good for water quality or aquatic habitats, either.

In terms of money, McKay said some property owners may in the end invest more in repeated shoreline measures than if they’d instead moved their home back from the water’s edge, which she said can also be a better long-term environmental solution.

Joe Haas, water resources division district manager for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, said the state agency doesn’t like to permit seawalls — they are typically even frowned upon.

He confirmed attempts to “hard armor” the shoreline often end up with accentuated erosion on neighboring properties and water getting behind the structure, anyway.

Other experts discussed what additional things could be done to affect water levels.

Howard Learner, president of Chicago-based environmental advocacy group Environmental Law & Policy Center, said overall climate trends show movement toward greater extremes for Great Lakes water levels — both low and high.

“We need to recognize climate change realities,” he said, adding better land use planning must be done based on that.

Gigas, a New York-based engineer who said he lives on the Lake Ontario shoreline, said there are only four places within the entire Great Lakes system where humans have any control over inflow or outflow rates.

The Ogoki and Longlac diversions in Ontario for hydropower amounts to the only human-controlled inlet into the Great Lakes at Lake Superior, while the Chicago River and the Moses-Saunders Power Dam at the St. Lawrence River are the only human-controlled outlets.

The Soo Locks serve as an inter-lake control, Gigas said.

“No one controls the weather. Soo Locks and Moses-Saunders Dam have influence but not complete control of water levels,” he said.

Actions the engineer said are reasonable and could help alleviate extremely high water levels include reducing or eliminating Lake Superior inflow diversions — like the Ogoki and Longlac — during high water periods, plus increasing the outflow from Lake Michigan through the Chicago River.

Gigas also said infrastructure changes could be made to increase the capacity of the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers, as well as the Niagara River. But that would have flooding impacts downstream and could also prove problematic during low water level years, he said.

And really, he said all that would have marginal impacts, as weather patterns have greater influence on the lakes’ levels.

“There is only so much we can do,” Gigas said. “We don’t control the weather.”

Maybe it’s time to recognize the risk property owners who built too close the shoreline took when they chose where to live — including himself, the engineer said.

Learner said much of western Michigan along the Lake Michigan shoreline wasn’t developed with current water levels in mind, which is why many homeowners there are fraught over the ongoing erosion.

He said it’s time to rethink how building is allowed in these places and not only in terms of residential neighborhoods; Learner pointed to multiple toxic and nuclear waste storage sites along the Lake Michigan shoreline that could become public health threats in the face of continued high water levels.

Meanwhile, physical scientist Deanna Apps with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, reported Lakes Michigan and Huron broke high water level records every month this year since January.

She said those lakes — considered one water body by federal hydrologists — are tracking toward continued broken high water level records at least through July, when the peak is expected before the normal seasonal decline.

Both webinars are expected to be posted at www.watershedcouncil.org and www.greatlakescoalition.org online.

Whole article;'
https://www.record-eagle.com/news/l...cle_1223be0c-9605-11ea-bd39-67fd01f11327.html
 

scotto

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Outflows to increase from Lake Ontario
Belleville, ON, Canada / Quinte News
John Spitters
Aug 31, 2020 4:15 AM



It’s been a much better year than last as far as flooding is concerned in the Quinte region.
According to the International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board, Lake Ontario’s levels peaked early in May at 75.4 metres which is 10 centimetres below the general flood stage and a half metre below the peak of last year.
Levels have steadily decreased since then.
However the lake’s water levels still remain 13 cm above normal levels for this time of year causing the board to decide that after the Labour Day long weekend higher volumes of water from Lake Ontario will be released downstream during the fall.
https://www.quintenews.com/2020/08/31/outflows-to-increase-from-lake-Ontario/
 

scotto

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Staff member
Feb 15, 2004
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The Beach Strip
Attached is the Lake Ontario water level graph for the month of August, notice a minor decrease in levels of about .2 meters. Not much, but still going down.


 
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