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article imageLake Ontario water levels the highest in recorded history

By Karen Graham     May 30, 2019 in Environment
Water levels on Lake Ontario have reached the highest point in recorded history, putting the Toronto Islands in Canada at risk of significant flooding, while New York residents along the lake's shores are facing similar risks.
As Lake Ontario continues its rise to record-high levels for the second time in three years, shoreline residents grasp to find a villain. Current levels have reached 76.03 meters (249.4 feet) above sea level, topping the previous record of 75.93 meters (249.1 feet) which was set in 2017.
The only villain to blame is the record wet spring we had this year and in 2017, said Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed hydrology in the Detroit office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “The level of Lake Ontario absolutely is a result of the very wet conditions experienced over the past several years."
The Toronto Islands are facing a distressing time as most residents anticipate the waters to continue to rise, reports CBC Canada. However, city officials are saying the islands are in better shape than they were in 2017. During a morning update on Wednesday, Councillor Joe Cressy said the ferry service to Hanlan's Point had been suspended and Gibraltar Point was now closed.
The big worry this afternoon is the wind. Winds are expected to become much stronger Thursday afternoon, something that could lead to "significant wave action." Cressy added, “We anticipate the water levels are going to continue to rise for the next seven to ten days."
The Toronto Sun is reporting that Toronto is spending about $100,000 a week in their flood mitigation efforts (separate from capital costs), according to Cressy. Over 15,000 have already been put in place with another 9,000 on their way. City workers have been operating 30 pumps around the clock.
New York side of Lake Ontario
A number of communities and lakeshore properties on the New York side of the lake are also experiencing record flooding, and it's not just homes along the lake's shore. Tributaries and area creeks and ponds are also giving homeowners sleepless nights as pumps in basements have to be turned on every couple of hours.
A flooded home in the Montreal borough of Pierrefonds. Floods and heavy rains have led to evacuation...
A flooded home in the Montreal borough of Pierrefonds. Floods and heavy rains have led to evacuations and caused extensive damage in waterlogged eastern Canada
Catherine Legault, AFP/File
The Town of Irondequoit Supervisor Dave Seeley described Tuesday's battering of the shore as an "acute" crisis while the ongoing rise of the water that reached well inland was more a "chronic" situation.
Most people lament the loss of septic systems or driveways, with business owners sorry about the loss of business, but generally, people take the flooding as something they can't do anything about, reports WHEC.com.
"There's not much we can do with the creeks," sighed Parma Highway Supervisor Brian Speer, who had just finished a hard, but successful effort to protect and drain flooded streets along the lake. "We've got barricades and such that there won't be any wave action but we can't stop the water from coming up there. So, unfortunately, not much you can do about it."
Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency as the rising waters continue to creep higher. New York's U.S. senators, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be ready to assist New York if the state requests a major disaster declaration.
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