Record high lake levels. Aug. 13, 2019. (Photo courtesy of City of Windsor)Record high lake levels. Aug. 13, 2019. (Photo courtesy of City of Windsor)

High lake levels continue to concern ERCA

The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) is warning residents that even though it's winter, lake levels are still elevated.

Although previous lake levels peaked last summer, ERCA is still keeping a watchful eye on them. Watershed Management Director Tim Byrne is particularly concerned.

"Previous high lake water cycles have occurred, and once peak levels were hit, would typically decline," said Byrne. "The current peak level occurred in late July of 2019, but the elevated conditions continue."

Lake Erie is currently 12 inches higher than its level in February 2019, while Lake St. Clair is 17 inches higher than a year ago. Several factors come into play here, according to Byrne. Mild temperatures throughout January have resulted in less ice cover. There have also been increased nearshore water depths, water spray along shorelines, and a storm that dumped over 50 millimetres of rain within 48 hours.

Byrne said he would not be surprised if lake levels break records again in 2020.

"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," said Byrne.

ERCA has continued to work with all Windsor-Essex municipalities to ensure that emergency plans are in place in case they are needed. The conservation authority, under the recommendation of Ontario's chief flooding advisor, Douglas McNeil, has also teamed up with the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority to develop flood mitigation and climate change strategies.

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