Lake Ontario shipping season, a $4.5 trillion economy, seeing two-week delay


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Shipping season along the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River waterways will be delayed to address lake flooding. This could pose sizable economic impact, and many are expressing concerns.

According to the Chamber of Marine Commerce, this area is an “economic powerhouse,” and the “industrial heartland” of both Canada and the United States. The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River waterways have a GDP of over $4.5 trillion U.S.D.

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System said in a notice sent out Tuesday that it has been working with the International Joint Commission (IJC) to monitor Lake Ontario’s flooding forecasts and waterlevels. The organization has determined that lowering the Lake Ontario waterlevels, which requires maintaining water outflows at a level that is unsafe for navigation, is the most beneficial between now and April 1, 2020. After April 1, the organization, along with the I.J.C., have determined that maintaining these high outflow levels will have minimal benefits, particular when assessed alongside the economic impact of a continued delay in shipping season. The decision to hold off the start of shipping season (also known as navigation season) until April 1 means a 12-day delay from schedule.

According to the joint analysis conducted by the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System and the I.J.C., the dry weather the region has experienced throughout the month of February has left the likelihood of future Lake Ontario flooding at only 35%, low enough to avoid prolonging shipping season any further.

However, larger shipping vessels may need to observe weather conditions more carefully, The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System said, “Vessel transits will be subject to weather and ice conditions. Restrictions may apply in some areas until lighted navigation aids have been installed.”


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