Going With the Flow with Science and Nature on Tap

Seen in image above: Cornwall's Moses-Saunders Power Dam — the drainage point at the eastern end of Lake Ontario. Courtesy photo

CORNWALL — This past summer, with Lake Ontario water levels at their highest in a century, officials began the largest outflow from the lake in history, to drain off the excess into the St. Lawrence Seaway. At one point the outflow from Cornwall’s Moses-Saunders Power Dam — the drainage point at the eastern end of Lake Ontario — had risen from roughly 7,000 cubic metres per second earlier this year to 10,200 cubic metres per second. For reference, that’s over four Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of water passing through the dam, every second.

Given the diverse demands and needs along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, regulating water levels is a complex task.  Rob Caldwell knows this all too well as the Manager of the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence Regulation Office with Environment and Climate Change Canada. This year, in particular, has proved to be a challenge with a lot of public speculation and many theories put forth as what factors have contributed to the high water crisis on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

Seen in above photo: Rob Caldwell, Manager of the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence Regulation Office with Environment and Climate Change Canada. Courtesy photo

The complicated topic of water levels will be featured when Science and Nature on Tap returns this fall to Schnitzels in Cornwall on Wednesday, October 4 at 7:00 p.m.

In a presentation entitled, “The Regulation of Outflows During the 2017 High Water Crisis”,  Rob Caldwell will bring his unique experience to the table by diving into this multi-faceted issue. While there are many competing theories as to why this year has seen such extraordinary water levels in many areas, he says, “The truth is, while there are many factors, the main issues seem to involve rain, rain, and more rain.”

Rob adds, “While this may seem to be an over-simplification, in retrospect, high water levels have stemmed mainly from four rain-related factors: an unusual mild and wet winter, above normal inflows from the upper Great Lakes, a record-setting spring freshet in the Ottawa River basin, and heavy rainfalls across the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River system that continued through the spring and early summer.” This unprecedented combination of climate conditions has presented the International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board of Control with a most difficult challenge.

Everyone is invited to learn more about how water levels are being regulated in particular in response to environmental challenges by attending this special Science and Nature on Tap session hosted by the St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences.  

Science and Nature on Tap is held at Schnitzels European Flavours, 158 Pitt St, Cornwall, and sessions are free but space is limited. If you would like to reserve a seat please call (613) 936-6620 (ext. 229) or e-mail kcooper@riverinstitute.ca.

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