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GLIN==> Lake Ontario regulation

Posted on behalf of John Kangas <John.W.Kangas@usace.army.mil>

Lake Ontario regulation
International St. Lawrence River Board of Control

December 20, 2001

While all of the Great Lakes are still below their average levels, the above
average precipitation of the past two months has improved conditions
relative to last year at this time. Lakes Ontario, Erie and Michigan-Huron
are 7 cm (3 in.), 2 cm (1 in.), and 26 cm (10 in.), respectively, higher
than one year ago. Rains along the St. Lawrence River valley and Ottawa
River basin continue to ease the low water level problems in the Montreal
region of the St. Lawrence River.

On December 10, 2001, the water level on Lake Ontario was at 74.51 m (244.46
feet), about
2 cm (1 in.) below the long-term average for that time of year.  The water
levels at most locations in the Thousand Islands area of the St. Lawrence
River were below average by a similar amount.  Downstream, the Lake St.
Louis and Montreal Harbour levels have risen and are now about 32 cm and 65
cm (13 in and 26 in.) respectively, lower than average.  Two months ago,
Lake Ontario was about 12 cm (5 in.) below average, while Montreal Harbour
was about 84 cm (33 in.) below average.  Montreal Harbour is now 40 - 50 cm
(16 - 20 in.) above chart datum.  Flows from the Ottawa River into Lake St.
Louis and the harbour are expected to remain above average.

During the fall of 2001, the International St. Lawrence River Board of
Control (Board) used some of the water that it had conserved on Lake Ontario
last fall and winter, to prevent excessively low water levels on Lake St.
Louis, and to assist navigation on Lake St. Louis and at the Port of
Montreal.  About 2.9 cm (1 in.) of conserved water remains on Lake Ontario.

With the level of Lake Erie still 14 cm (5 in.) below its long-term
average, the supply of water to Lake Ontario from that lake is expected to
remain below average during the coming months.  If weather conditions on
Lake Ontario basin are near average, its levels should continue to rise
slowly and peak next summer at about its long-term average of 75.04 m (246.2

At a teleconference on December 14, 2001, the Board considered these and
other relevant conditions and decided on the following regulation outflow
strategy for the next 3 months:

Generally, outflows specified by Plan 1958-D will be followed. The Board
will use opportunities, if any, for underdischarge to conserve up to an
additional 5 cm (2 in.) of water on Lake Ontario.  Such opportunities might
arise if outflows are reduced to below Plan 1958-D specified amounts to
assist in ice formation, or due to limited hydropower generation capacity.
Critical needs of hydropower and navigation will be met.

The Board intends to review this strategy in mid-February, or before if
conditions require.

The International Joint commission was created under the Boundary Waters
Treaty of 1909 to help prevent and resolve disputes over the use of waters
along the Canada-United States boundary.  Its responsibilities include
approving certain projects that would change water levels on the other side
of the boundary, such as the international hydropower project at Massena,
New York and Cornwall, Ontario.  When it approves a project, the
Commission's Orders of Approval may require that flows through the project
meet certain conditions to protect interests in both countries.  For more
information, visit the Commission's website at www.ijc.org.

The International St. Lawrence River Board of Control was established by the
International Joint Commission, mainly to ensure that outflows from Lake
Ontario meet the requirements of the Commission's Orders of Approval.  For
more information, visit the Board's website at www.islrbc.org.


Reg Golding, Ottawa, Ontario (613) 998-1408
John Kangas, Chicago, Illinois (312) 353-4333

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