Property owners along the Lake Ontario shoreline prepare for rising water levels

Apr 18, 2017

Residents along the southern shore of Lake Ontario are trying to protect their property from potential flooding as water levels continue to rise.

Sodus town supervisor Steve LeRoy says sandbags are being made available to homeowners so they can create a breakwall to protect their property from surges that might be created by passing boat traffic or high winds.

"If we are at flood stage, and the water is just beginning to seep up into people's lawns, and we get a 60 mile an hour north wind, it'll be devastating. And the water is continuing to rise now, so we're really in trouble."

Lake Ontario
Credit Leah Landry / WRVO News File Photo

LeRoy is a vocal critic of the joint plan between the U.S. and Canada to allow for more frequent variations in the water levels of the lake.  After years of heated debate and revisions, the plan went into effect several months ago.

"The effects of that plan are evident," LeRoy said. "We're already seeing a very possible flood. We know at 247 feet above sea level we'll begin to flood. I believe we're within two inches of that now, and the water's still coming up."

But Keith Korawlewski, chief of hydrology for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Buffalo, says the Lake Ontario water levels are likely just as high as they would have been before Plan 2014 was enacted.

"The biggest factor has been the wet spring that we had; including the rainfall we have had in the last couple of weeks has certainly impacted water levels on Lake Ontario."

As of late Sunday morning, the water level on Lake Ontario was at just over 247 feet, a nearly 11 inch rise since April 1 and 19 inches higher than the long-term average between 1918 and 2016. The Army Corps of Engineers is predicting an additional 11 inch rise by May 14.

In Monroe County, the sheriff's office is advising boaters and vessel operators to keep speeds and wakes down within 1,000 feet of the shoreline, saying that given the higher water levels, wake caused by boats and other vessels could cause significant damage to residents and boaters along the shoreline.

Deputies are also reminding boaters to be aware of significant debris in Lake Ontario and the surrounding waterways including trees and floating objects that could cause significant damage to boats and vessels. Docks and other objects that are normally visible close to shore may be partially submerged and difficult to see because of the unusually high water level.