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River Board of Control to “over-discharge” water at Massena dam for Montreal area boaters

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Upper St. Lawrence River water levels might get even lower soon as the binational agency that manages the levels plans to “moderately over-discharge” water at the Massena dam for Montreal area boaters downstream.

Once conditions downstream permit it, the International St. Lawrence River Board of Control will go back to reducing the outflow at the Robert H. Moses-Saunders Power Dam, Massena, to restore water back to Lake Ontario “as soon as possible.”

“Because of the relatively low outflows, the levels of Lake St. Lawrence have been adequate for recreational boaters. However, if levels remain low in Lake St. Louis, the board will increase levels temporarily to assist with boat haul-out in that area on Oct. 13, 2012, an action which would lower levels in Lake St. Lawrence for a day or so,” the Board of Control said Thursday in a news release.

Marinas along the river and the eastern end of Lake Ontario report that many boaters are already experiencing difficulty pulling their boats because of low water levels, at a time of year when levels historically drop.

Further reductions from letting more water through the dam may exacerbate an already difficult situation.

Along the shores of the lake and St. Lawrence River, marina owners say several hundred boaters have either seen damage or are having trouble figuring out just how to get their boats out because of the low water — which has effectively cut the boating season short by a month.

Due to drought and low supply from Lake Erie, the lake’s primary water source, Lake St. Lawrence and St. Lawrence River water levels are still well below their long-term average despite the River Board of Control’s efforts to retain water since late spring.

“Levels on Lake Ontario are the lowest for this time of the year since 1964,” the board said.

As of Sept. 19, the level on Lake Ontario was 244.36 feet, some 9.4 inches below the long-term average.

Levels that same day at the port of Montreal, which hit a record low monthly average level in August, was 17.38 feet — 35.4 inches below average.

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