St. Lawrence River could rise if N.Y. request to lower Lake Ontario is approved

The state of New York wants to release more water from a dam in Cornwall so that it can lower water levels in Lake Ontario, which borders the state, and that could aggravate an already difficult situation in Quebec.

'Doing everything that we can to relieve everyone': Move could affect high Lac Saint-Louis

High water in Lake Ontario may need to be diverted to the St. Lawrence River. (Muriel Draaisma/CBC)

A request by the state of New York to release more water from a dam in Cornwall in order to lower water levels in Lake Ontario has the agency in charge in a tricky situation.

If the request is accepted, the excess water from Lake Ontario, which is nearing a record level, would be diverted to the St. Lawrence River.

That would in turn affect water levels in Lac Saint-Louis, at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers, which is past its record high flood level.

Jean Aubry-Morin, a Canadian member of the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board, said it's a balancing act. 

"We're doing everything that we can to relieve everyone — that can be quite difficult," he told CBC News.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the request to release water from the Moses-Saunders Power Dam on Tuesday.

Cuomo was sympathetic to the flooding situation in Ontario and Quebec.

"In a situation like this, preparation is key and getting ahead of the situation is key. Once the damage occurs, then you're playing cleanup, so the best course is to get ahead of it and be prepared," said Cuomo on Tuesday.

The river board follows strict protocols to ensure water levels are evenly distributed on both sides of the border. 

Aubry-Morin said the shared water is usually readjusted once a week, but recently it's been more like three to four times a day.

Quebec already coping with floods

Quebec is trying to control flooding in the province. (Charles Contant/CBC)

Several communities in Quebec are already coping with the aftermath of floods. 

Aubry-Morin said that the board would take current water levels in Quebec into consideration before adding any water into the St. Lawrence.  

Because of the snow melt and spring showers, the international board redistributes water into the appropriate body of water every year.

What's abnormal about this year, Aubry-Morin says is the amount of precipitation the provinces have seen in the last six weeks.

"It's a one-in-20-year situation," he said.