The level of Lake Ontario continues to fluctuate with wind and rain, but early this week was steady at six and three-eighths inches above the 2017 high level.
Retired mining engineer Ron Simkus said last week it rose even higher briefly, and that fluctuation can be expected to continue.
The US Army Corps of Engineers continues to publish what he calls a “blue skies” forecast, predicting the lake will fall six inches by mid-July — but they’ve been saying that for a few weeks, and there is no sign of it happening, he said.
Environment Canada disputes that assumption, and is more realistically expecting a continual rise over the next few weeks.
The operators of the Moses Saunders Dam in Cornwall have opened it and plan to hold it there until further notice, but that is “barely keeping pace,” said Simkus, a waterfront resident who sends out email blasts updating his neighbours regularly.
“We here on the shores of Lake Ontario are literally caught in a contest of the irresistible force versus the immovable object,” he said, the irresistible force being the Niagara River, which is steadily feeding 85 per cent of Lake Ontario’s supply. “Look upstream of Lake Erie and you’ll understand that the flow from Erie is not going to abate soon.”
There has been some chatter about pushing more water through the Cornwall dam, which could quickly lower Lake Ontario, said Simkus, but it would temporarily halt shipping on the St. Lawrence Seaway.
“I don’t think there is any will to do that.”
The high lake level continues to threaten the Dock Area, “because we are barely three and a half inches away from a breakout via the (NOTL) sailing club into the surrounding residential area.”
Residents are nervous, he said.
“It’s easy to look outside now at a calm, sunny day, and ask what the problem is,” he said Monday.
“I’ve been tracking the lake over the weekend, and it isn’t going down. It’s rising and falling daily based on the rain we’re getting.
There is a fear of what lies ahead — all it would take is one bad storm to cause damage to waterfront houses.
“We’re in limbo. This calm sunny weather we’re looking at is a godsend, and everybody is saying we’re praying for good weather.”
But due to the long delay in getting Lake Ontario to recede, “we are now statistically assured to face storms with gale force winds at some point this summer while our homes are vulnerable. These winds can easily raise the level of the lake four inches to six feet in a matter of minutes.”
He pointed to last Thursday’s rainfall, which was expected, but the amount of rain that fell in a short time was not.
Town staff have implemented a program to stall or mitigate the infiltration of water, creating temporary levies using water bladders.
Unfortunately, every weekend visitors and locals have been treating the bladders like party bouncers for entertainment, ignoring the reason for them being there and the consequences if they’re damaged.
The bladders along River Beach Drive are old and especially vulnerable, he said. They were the first to be installed by the Town, and they leak.
“It’s just a slow leak, but when people jump on them, it becomes a fast leak,” he said.
Children have also been treating the boulders like a playground, he said.
The Town has now installed steel fencing, enclosing the Dock Area parkette, River Beach Drive and Melville Street, he said, to protect the neighbourhood.
“The Town is very concerned about people getting hurt,” he said.
“I go out there and tell people those bladders are there for a reason, but they don’t seem to agree.”