Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Rising Waters, Rising Concerns

On July 16th at 6:00 pm there will be a Public Hearing at the Williamson High School regarding the International Joint Commission’s (IJC) most recent plan to change the regulation of the water levels of Lake Ontario. It’s an issue that’s caused much debate over the past several decades.

The IJC asserts that the system’s current regulation plan has become outdated and that it is unable to deal with future conditions which will hurt the region’s ecosystem.

The issue locally affects the northern towns of Sodus Point, Ontario and Williamson, Huron, which could all be impacted by any changes to the current plan. “If the proposed increase of 2 inches is approved, the opportunities for flooding the shorelines and properties of municipalities bordering Lake Ontario would dramatically increase,” stated Williamson Supervisor Jim Hoffman. He is encouraging residents to go to the public forum and voice their opposition.

“An increase in water elevation will impact wastewater treatment plants and septic systems along the lakeshore. Septic systems were installed with a known water elevation. Sustained increases in the water level will likely cause failures requiring repairs and with untreated sewage going into the Lake,” said Hoffman.

Ontario Supervisor Bob Kelsch reported the status of the lake level issue, which is drawing to a conclusion. There are 383 cubic miles of water in Lake Ontario; if the lake is 2 inches higher, it is equal to 700,000,000 gallons of water. Using the last 100-year record stats, Sodus Point has been at flood level 5 times, and 3 times below the minimum level necessary for successful navigation during that same period. In order to lower the lake’s water level by 1 centimeter, 300 cubic meters of water per second for one week would have to be taken out of the lake. Residents were encouraged to attend, as this ultimately affects the entire county.

While the impact on lakeshore residents is acknowledged by both sides, the IJC is calling for what they say is a more balanced approach that considers a number of factors including the environment as well as changes in weather conditions over the past few decades.

On their website, The IJC states “The current regulation plan has altered the natural patterns and has severely stressed the coastal wetlands …healthy wetlands are critical to the well-being of water ecosystems.”
The July 16th meeting will be the only Public forum held in our area.

For more information, residents can visit the IJC’s website at http://www.ijc.org/loslr.