Ontario Lake in Toronto will not recede to normal levels until the end of 2017

Published: July 5, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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The clean-up operation around Lake Ontario at Toronto is underway and could cost millions. However, water levels alone the stretch are not expected to drop to average levels until the end of the year. The onset of winter could “further exacerbate” the situation by creating frost and more infrastructure damage.

It is still difficult to put a precise cost on fixing infrastructure as much remains underwater, says Toronto city staff in a report that will be presented at this week’s council meeting.

“Lake Ontario levels began rising to above average level in April as snowmelt and an exceptionally rainy spring have increased water supply to the basis,” says the report from the City of Toronto department of parks, forestry and recreation.

Toronto Islands has been hit hard by flooding that started in May. Since then, ferry services to the Island Park has been closed, while 800 residents and 30 businesses have been affected by rising water.

In the report, titled Damages Sustained from Rising Lake Water Levels and Restoration Plans for Waterfront Parks, staff says people in the park are learning to adapt to higher water levels.

To help ease the situation, the report makes three recommendations. The first is to compile a “comprehensive inventory of all capital costs” associated with the rising water, “including repair of existing infrastructure and mitigation strategies.”

“In late May and early June, Lake Ontario remained above the highest water levels recorded at any time since 1918,” according to the report.

Lake Ontario is at unprecedented levels. As of June 19, the water level in Toronto was 75.85 metres above sea level. While waters are receding, they remain high to record levels.

“While water levels are receding, it is expected that they will not return to pre-flood levels (75.5m) until well into summer,” parks, forestry and recreation staff wrote in the report. “It will take until the end of the year for the lake to return to an average water level of 74.5m.”