Lake Ontario Water Level
What is causing high water levels on Lake Ontario?
What does a completely encased ice house have in common with rising lake levels? They are both phenomenon happening at Lake Ontario, one of the five Great Lakes along the border between the United States and Canada.
Lake Ontario, 14th largest lake in the world (although the smallest of the Great Lakes), encompasses 712 miles of shoreline and the major cities of Toronto, Canada and Rochester, New York.
Let’s take a look at some of the many factors affecting the lake currently and why it needs to be studied for water management issues as well as ecological concerns.
Rising Water Levels
In recent weeks, Lake Ontario has experienced a sharp rise in lake level beyond its flood stage of 247 feet. A state of emergency was declared in two counties by April 20 with the threat of evacuations.
The Army Corps of Engineers points to an especially wet spring and rainfall levels that increased the level of Lake Ontario to 18 inches higher than average for April. An additional rise of 11 inches is forecasted by May 14.
But some property owners along the lake’s shoreline speculate that the Lake Ontario St. Lawrence River Plan 2014 may have had this unintended effect.
The Plan 2014 water level control policy was created by the International Joint Commission to allow for more frequent variations in the water levels of the lake. This plan between the U.S. and Canada was adopted in 2017 to protect against extreme water levels, restore wetlands and prepare for climate change.
This video from the International Joint Commission details more of Plan 2014 and it’s approach to managing water levels in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.
In other Lake Ontario news:
A plan to transform the waterfront of Lake Ontario at the city of Oswego has brought about both hope and concerns. This development would include new beaches, an expanded marina, restaurants and recreation space – all providing expanded access to Lake Ontario. While most concerns appear to be about the costs of the project, the effect of the development must also be considered on the effect it will have on lake activity and its ecology, wetlands and wildlife.
Part of the waterfront transformation plan is a proposal to establish the Great Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary. The proposal has been accepted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and will be under consideration for the future. An unusual aspect of Lake Ontario landscape is the plethora of historic shipwrecks, aircraft and other artifacts resting on the lake’s bottom – including the 136-foot-long St. Peter, a schooner that sank in 1898 during a storm. The marine sanctuary proposal would preserve the wrecks for divers and other tourists, helping to boost the local economy.
A 2014 dredging master plan has been revived by four of the counties along 150 miles of Lake Ontario shoreline. Overall, the harbors generate more than $90 million annually and support close to 1500 jobs. But they need dredging to remain accessible to boating and sustain the economic activity.
Model Lake Ontario
Learn more about Lake Ontario, including its history with severe algal blooms, by clicking below to get your copy of our new free grid. The first step in the modeling process is to build and then refine a grid. We have taken the first step for you. Download the Lake Ontario grid from our site and either refine it in CVLGrid or upload it into EE to start building a model
By the way, that completely encased ice house on Lake Ontario? It has melted with apparently no damage and a huge relief to the homeowner. Will they now have to combat flooding from the lake?