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Water Safety Statement Extended for Lake Ontario & St. Lawrence River

October 8, 2019


KINGSTON ON – The Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority (CRCA) has extended the Water Safety Statement (in effect since September 5, 2019) for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River today due to continuing high water levels. 

The International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board (ILOSLRB), which manage Lake Ontario outflows, is reporting a lake-wide water level of 75.13 metres as of October 2, about 0.79 metres below this year’s peak of 75.92 metres which was last recorded June 15. Water levels continue to decline. However, they are still 0.45 metres above average for this time of year. 

The Board indicates that:

Lake Ontario outflows were at a record high for the month of September and remain high in order to accelerate the decline in Lake Ontario levels. The Board will continue releasing high outflows, while considering the effects on all interests within the Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River system. As a result, high velocities in the upper St. Lawrence River are expected to persist for several weeks as efforts to lower Lake Ontario levels continue.

Though it is too early for accurate predictions, ILOSLRB forecasts are suggesting that 2020 will likely begin with above average water levels. Additional opportunities to further increase outflows, however brief or incremental, are being evaluated in order to try and reduce the risk of potentially high water levels again next spring.

Residents are reminded that water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River are largely dictated by rainfall events, inflows from inland lakes and streams, and flows from the other Great Lakes upstream, which also remain high for this time of year.

The current water levels as of October 7, measured at Kingston and Brockville of 75.0 metres and 74.7 metres respectively, about average summer peak level, are approximately 0.4 – 0.45 metres above average for this time of year.

What this means in simple terms is though water levels continue to decline, higher than average levels are likely to persist into next year. And, no different from previous years, water levels next year will largely depend on weather conditions.

The CRCA is urging residents to take care along the shoreline and on the water as levels decline further. Unsafe/unstable banks have been reported due to recent erosion. High water and wave action have deposited debris along shorelines and beaches, and floating debris could cause hazardous conditions for boaters.

If you witness flooding and require assistance your first point of contact is the local municipality. CRCA does not provide sandbags. However, information about where to purchase sandbags is provided at www.crca.ca/flood. Residents are reminded that it is the property owner’s responsibility to properly dispose of sandbags and sand, which is considered hazardous waste, and any other debris that may have been deposited along the shoreline. 

Any work along shorelines (e.g. placement of fill, armour stone, etc.) will require a permit from the CRCA. Call our office or visit our website www.crca.ca for further information.

CRCA appreciates feedback from the public and municipal staff detailing flooding and erosion impacts. Please report observations on the online form at www.crca.ca/flood.
Staff will continue to monitor ILOSLRB forecasts, Surface Water Monitoring Centre Provincial Statements, and local water levels, and update CRCA messaging as needed. This Watershed Conditions Statement will remain in effect until (or updated before) 11:59 PM December 11, 2019.
See below for watershed conditions terminology:
Normal: No flood conditions exist
Flood Watch: Flooding is possible in specific watercourse or municipalities. Municipalities, emergency services and individual landowners in flood-prone areas should prepare.
Flood Warning: Flooding is imminent or already occurring in specific watercourses or municipalities. Municipalities and individuals should take action to deal with flood conditions. This may include road closures and evacuations.