St. Lawrence River at low risk for flooding in 2022: river board

A graph from the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board on Tuesday, April 19, 2022 shows the water flow forecast scenarios for Lake Ontario (red block) based on the probability of a wet, average or dry year. The model shows that even in a wet year the likelihood of flooding in Lake Ontario and the Upper St. Lawrence River through to the Moses-Saunders Dam in Cornwall, Ont. would be low. However, there is a risk of low water levels this year in Lake St. Lawrence. (ILOSLRB via Newswatch Group)

OTTAWA – The board that oversees the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario says the likelihood of flooding and erosion is low even if 2022 is wetter than normal.

In a public meeting Tuesday, the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board outlined its forecast for spring and summer.

Even if the region were to get an unusually wet spring and summer, the forecast model shows water levels wouldn’t reach the high water threshold where the board would have to deviate flows set out in the International Joint Commission’s Plan 2014.

“The projections show 60-65 per cent probability that water levels later this year will remain within the moderate range between…the deviation thresholds. The forecast shows a slightly greater chance of falling below average,” said David Harper, the board’s Canadian co-chair.

While the outlook is optimistic for the St. Lawrence River, the same can’t be said for Lake St. Lawrence (the dammed portion of the river between Cornwall and Iroquois).

The board believes there’s a “slightly higher risk” to have water levels below average, similar to what has happened the last couple of years.

Bruce Carmichael, the river board’s U.S. secretary, said “there is still some uncertainly to it” but high outflows from Lake Erie could correlate downstream with lower water levels on Lake St. Lawrence.

Asked by Newswatch, Carmichael said that weather plays a bigger factor in fluctuating water levels that regulation within the system.

“If we have any extreme (weather) conditions that’s definitely going to be the most influential factor in the water levels throughout the system,” he said.

The board will start weekly reporting water level forecasts for Lake St. Lawrence to help shoreline residents and tourists plan for boating on the lake.

A graph from the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board on Tuesday, April 19, 2022 shows the water flow forecast scenarios for Lake Ontario (red block) based on the probability of a wet, average or dry year. The model shows that even in a wet year the likelihood of flooding in Lake Ontario and the Upper St. Lawrence River through to the Moses-Saunders Dam in Cornwall, Ont. would be low. However, there is a risk of low water levels this year in Lake St. Lawrence. (ILOSLRB via Newswatch Group)