We read with interest the article ‘Municipality stops short of declaring emergency in relation to flooding,’ published on June 6 in The Picton Gazette, which touches on the question of whether Plan 2014 contributed to the record floods on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River this year and in 2017.
To place the article in context, the flooding was caused by persistent and at times exceptionally wet weather across the Great Lakes basin along with extremely high inflows to Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence River.
At present, Plan 2014 has responded to high water supplies with high Lake Ontario outflows, as the previous plan would have.
Furthermore, throughout the late summer and fall of 2018, flows under Plan 2014 were almost certainly higher than they would have been under the previous plan.
During the late summer and fall of 2018, the rules and provisions of Plan 2014 enabled us to set and maintain record or near-record flows, which helped to reduce the flooding impacts that we are experiencing in 2019.
During the spring of 2019, high outflows from Lake Ontario were somewhat constrained by conditions in the St. Lawrence River, including the need to avoid the formation of ice jams, the extent of downstream flooding as the Ottawa River was flowing into the St. Lawrence River at record volumes, the need for navigational safety, and the need to protect water intakes.
We would have faced these same conditions and constraints under the previous plan.
In recognition of the limited ability of the any regulation plan to prevent flooding, it is vital that all coastal communities make high and low water levels a part of everyday planning and practice.
Building for resilience is the most reliable way to reduce damages and impacts in the future.
Dr. Geneviève Béchard, Canadian Co-chair
Stephen Durrett, Alternate US Co-chair
International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board