by Kaitlin Fello
Seneca Lake is currently as high as it's been all year. In fact, the lake has risen just under 20 inches in the last week, according to the National Weather Service gage reporting. Many lakefront homeowners are reporting flooding in homes and cottages, and docks submerged under water, some dock pieces coming apart and floating into the lake. Posts on social media indicate that numerous small water vessels have floated off their lifts and are floating in the lake, some being rescued by boaters who dare to get out there in these conditions.
The Keuka Outlet has been running high for a full six days, exceeding 850 cubic feet per second (cfs), some hours exceeding 2,600cfs.
The Keuka Outlet is only one tributary of Seneca Lake, but is the largest single contributor of water into Seneca Lake. Like the Seneca-Cayuga Canal is for Seneca Lake, the Keuka Outlet is as it is named, the outlet for Keuka Lake. To avoid flooding of Keuka Lake cottages and homes, water is controlled by the Keuka Lake Outlet Compact (KLOC), and passed through six gates at Birkett Mills in Penn Yan. The following statement was taken from the Keuka Lake Association webpage, www.keukalakeassociation.org, regarding discharge rates into the Outlet: "Normal maximum allowed water outflow is limited to 1,000 cubic feet per second (CFS), to minimize any potential downstream damage. Exceeding this amount should only happen during high water emergency periods, requiring KLOC to declare Condition B, which is a non-failure emergency condition." If you visit the KLA Lake Level website, you'll see that Keuka Lake is also currently at very high levels (17 inch increase over the last eight days).
Although Gravity Renewables in waterloo checked in with Pure Waters , and are pushing water through the Seneca-Cayuga Canal as fast as possible, the inflow into Seneca is greater than the outflow, and we may continue to see the lake rise over the next 24-48 hours, even if we don't get any more rain. Windy conditions may cause more damage to docks and property due to waves, and we may have these conditions before the levels move back into a normal range.
If you are around the lake or own property here, please move any unsecured items away from shore, pull boats up out of the water, and keep an eye on neighbors who may need some help with their properties. If you have seasonal cottages and are not in the area, we suggest you call a neighbor on Seneca or make your way here to check in on any issues your property may have. We also ask that you share this messaging with those who you know may be out of the area, and inform them of the current and potentially damaging conditions.
As always, be very safe as docks may be unstable, and floating debris can be dangerous for those looking to clean up in the coming days.
Visit www.senecalake.org/lake-level to learn more and https://www.canals.ny.gov/water.../netdata/seneca-levels.pdf to view NYS Canal Corporation record of lake level.