Lake Ontario's Rising Water Levels Continue to Threaten Shoreline Communities

May 9, 2019

Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow spoke during Governor Andrew Cuomo surveyed flood preparations being deployed along the shores of Lake Ontario in Oswego earlier this week.
Credit Governor Andrew Cuomo's Flicker page

The Lake Ontario shoreline communities are hoping the thousands of sand bags that have been deployed will help fend-off rising water levels and prevent their properties from being flooded.  However, Oswego County Emergency Management EMS Coordinator Renee Fox says it’s already impacted some.

“There are home owners who are experiencing some flooding in their areas, we have seen some marinas that are experiencing some difficulties with the higher water level.”

This weekend she says they’re anticipating winds to shift back to a common West to Northwest flow which could cause additional wave impact to the shoreline.  City of Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow says the pacing of rising lake levels this season are very concerning.

“The water is already as high now, as it was the highest point in 2017, and we haven’t even gotten to June, yet.”

Officials like Barlow point to mismanagement of Plan 2014 by the International Joint Commission which determines when water can be released from the lake.

“Quite frankly, if they were paying attention to the water levels back in January and February, they would have known to let more water out then, when it wouldn’t have flooded Canada, before the snow begin to melt, before the rains begin to pick-up.”

He adds the local reference points that are used to determine if water levels are too high were confirmed by residents in February and March.  The City of Oswego spent $7 million to improve the shoreline in 2017, so Barlow says the city is better prepared.