Opening the floodgates: Water levels to remain high on St. Lawrence River
Published Tuesday, May 9, 2017 8:12PM EDT
While water levels on the Ottawa River are dropping, as well as on the rivers and the lakes it feeds, officials are getting ready to open the floodgates on the St. Lawrence River.
Record-breaking rainfall has increased water levels in Lake Ontario and in many areas in New York state.
Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency last week for several areas near Lake Ontario, and made a formal appeal to the International Joint Commission to let more water through the Moses-Saunders dam.
That request was denied because of the already-high water levels around Montreal.
With the water levels stabilizing on Lake of Two Mountains, and on the Riviere des Prairies and Mille Iles rivers, the Moses-Saunders dam in Cornwall will be opened wider to allow more water to flow.
The water on Lake St. Louis has been quite high since early April but so far flood damage has been limited to a few points in Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Pointe Claire, and low-lying areas of the Montreal borough of LaSalle
Georges Bourelle, mayor of Beaconsfield, which lies on the shore of the lake, said there is flooding in his city, but it has not caused any damage.
"We're a bit above the level for slight flooding. The slight fllooding level is about 22.45 metres, so we're a little bit above that as long as it stays stable and doesn't go up we're okay," said Bourelle.
On Tuesday evening the water's near Beaconsfield and Pointe Claire were seven centimetres above that point, at 22.52 m.
Quebec's Environment Minister, David Heurtel, said the joint U.S.-Canada board that controls the dam between Cornwall, Ontario and Massena, New York, has been adjusting water levels every day since April's heavy rains.
"The water that's been retained in Cornwall has prevented over 4,500 cubic metres per second of water from coming to Lac St. Louis. Which means if we didn't have that dam and the steps that have been taken by the commission so far, our situation which is bad we would have even more centimetres," said Heurtel.
Gail Faveri, the board secretary of the joint commission, expects the water levels on Lake St. Louis will end up being higher than normal until the summertime.
"Lake St. Louis is where we're targeting to keep the water the same, but that will probably be the same high water level for months. Because there's all that water in Lake Ontario that has to get out," said Faveri.
The first big release happened Tuesday.
"The peak has passed on the Ottawa river and as the levels go down we'll be able to release more from the dam in Cornwall. And in fact we expect sometime this afternoon or evening to release more," Faveri said.
Water levels on Lake Ontario are the highest they've been in 20 years, and are expected to continue rising through the end of May.