Windsor/Essex – Officials with the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) continue to be gravely concerned about the persistent high lake levels throughout the winter months.
“Previous high lake water cycles have occurred and once peak levels were hit, would typically decline,” explained Tim Byrne, ERCA’s Director of Watershed Management. “The current peak level occurred in late July of 2019, but the elevated conditions continue.” The problems caused by these elevated lake levels are compounded significantly this year due to lack of ice cover, increased nearshore water depths, wave action pummeling the shorelines, and a January storm event that measured more than 50mm (nearly 2 inches) of rain in a 48 hour period. This is equivalent to the total precipitation in all of January 2019.
Lake Erie is currently 12 inches higher than it measured last February, while Lake St. Clair is 17 inches higher. “Considering the normal or typical rise in levels annually observed, it is highly likely that the record lake levels hit last year will be exceeded,” Byrne added. ERCA staff has actively advised all local municipal administration, first responders and other emergency response personnel of the ongoing threat and has assisted in emergency response plan preparation and updating. ERCA staff are also inspecting flood and erosion control structures constructed historically and are advising the affected municipality of the condition of these structures.
As recommended by the Provincially appointed Flood Advisor Douglas McNeil and at the request of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, ERCA is working with the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority and municipalities to develop a coordinated short- and long-term strategy to address the existing and expected impacts to Chatham-Kent, Windsor-Essex, and Pelee Island as a result of current and future water levels, flood and erosion hazards, and climate change.
Danielle Breault Stuebing
Director, Communications & Outreach Services