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St. Lawrence to peak well below 2019 levels

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Water levels in the upper St. Lawrence River are close to peaking well below the record levels experienced during the flooding of 2017 and 2019, the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority said on Monday.

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“While water levels are higher than normal for this time of year, it is predicted that any increases in overall levels will be minimal,” the authority said in a statement. “Levels are not expected to reach the historic levels experienced over the past few years.”

The forecast is good news for riverside property owners and businesses still recovering from the record high water in two of the last four years.

The International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board, which manages Lake Ontario outflows at the Moses-Saunders Power Dam in Cornwall, forecasts that Lake Ontario will peak below 75.4 metres and begin its seasonal decline in the coming weeks.

It cautions that higher peak levels are possible if there is unseasonably wet weather “but water levels are expected to remain well below the record-highs of 2017 and 2019.”

In 2017, Lake Ontario, which feeds the upper St. Lawrence River, peaked at 75.88 metres, while two years later it crested at 75.92 metres.

At those levels, this region saw widespread flooding and shoreline damage that cost businesses and residential property owners millions in damages on both sides of the river.

The current Lake Ontario level at 75.39 is higher than average, but it is 0.38 metres below the record for this time of year set in 2017, the authority said.

Water-control authorities are still keeping a wary eye on Lake Erie, which is sitting at near-record-high levels. The high water in Lake Erie prevents any rapid lowering of Lake Ontario levels, the authority said.

So while widespread flooding is not expected, the authority warns municipalities and their residents in flood-prone areas that localized flooding and erosion is still possible.

“Residents in flood prone and low-lying areas should continue to pay attention to wind and wave forecasts for approaching storms with high winds from the southeast, south and southwest, as these are the conditions when the probability of localized impacts is increased,” the conservation authority warns.

wlowrie@postmedia.com

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