Flood risk low on St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario this spring, IJC continuing with Plan 2014


WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWTI) — The risk of flooding on the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario is diminishing according to experts.

The International Lake Ontario- St. Lawrence River Board led by the International Joint Commission announced on Monday that the risk of flooding has declined from moderate in December 2020 to low. This is specific to Lake Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence River.

Considering these factors the Board announced that they will cease to deviate from Plan 2014 as of March 1 and revert to the high outflows prescribed by Plan 2014.

According to the Board, in December the risk analysis indicated a 28% chance of water levels exceeding a threshold at which could cause damage to shoreline communities. As of March 1, the risk was logged at 8% for this area.

The Board confirmed that this risk reduction is primarily the result of dry conditions throughout the Great Lakes Basin in January and February of 2021.

Additionally, Lake Ontario’s level is currently 4. inches, 11 cm, below the long-term average level for this time of year. The lake is almost two feet lower than at this time in 2020; the lowest its been at this time of year since 2015.

The Board also noted that it will continue to closely monitor the high levels and flows from Lake Erie. However, Lake Erie has also declined and was recorded to be over a foot lower than it was at this time in 2020.

The International Board stated the following:

Due to the uncertainty of seasonal conditions and the potential for conditions to rapidly change, the Board intends to meet regularly through the spring. The Board retains authority granted by the IJC to deviate from Plan flows through the seasonal crest of Lake Ontario this year. Under this authority, the Board can implement additional deviations to increase flows above Plan Limits should conditions warrant. Deviations from Plan 2014 have had a very small contribution to the reduction in flood risk. It is also important to note that deviations above Plan prescribed flows have potentially detrimental impacts to other interest groups including water users on Lake St. Lawrence and the ecosystem.

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