New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has released new flood inundation mapping for Lake Ontario, developed in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), to assist flood prone communities along the lake.
The USGS Flood Inundation Mapper can help local officials better prepare to protect public safety and infrastructure during high-water events.
The Flood Inundation Mapper includes 321 miles of New York shoreline and depicts estimates of inundation areas and shoreline flooding water depth by using data collected from eight new USGS lake gauges. Counties included in the flood inundation mapping project include Cayuga, Jefferson, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, Oswego, and Wayne.
DEC supported the initiative with $420,000 from the Ocean and Great Lakes line in the State’s Environmental Protection Fund to provide a tool for flood preparedness, planning, and response. Real-time data provided by the gauges and the mapper will assist municipalities and emergency managers in formulating informed emergency responses, including evacuation and road closure plans.
In 2017, Lake Ontario reached a record high water level of 248.95 feet. During this time, DEC helped residents, business owners, and local leaders build back faster by expediting permitting and providing on-the-ground support, issuing more than 3,000 expedited permits for emergency actions and shoreline protection measures. The record was then exceeded in 2019, when lake levels reached 249.09 feet.
In response to the extended pattern of flooding, New York State established the Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI), committing up to $300 million to benefit communities and improve resiliency in flood-prone areas along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. More than 130 projects are helping to strengthen the economy, protect habitat, build storm resilience, and provide other benefits throughout the region.
Photo of USGS Flood Inundation Mapper provided.