Snowfall, recent rains delay opening of part of Canal System

You can thank heavy snowfall this winter and recent relentless rains for significantly higher water levels that are delaying the opening of some sections of the State Canal system. That's the word from Director Brian Stratton today.

On Thursday, Stratton conducted field inspections along the Canal system in Central New York in the area most seriously impacted by the high-water events. He also met with state and local officials.

The section of the Erie Canal from Rochester westward to Tonawanda is expected to open for navigation on the target date of Sunday, May 1. The opening of the Erie Canal east toward Waterford and the rest of the Canal system will be delayed for some time.

"May 1 is normally selected as the target date for opening the state Canal system for planning and work scheduling purposes, but the water level in each section is always a factor that can change that date," Director Stratton stated.

The canal has opened as early as April 1 (in 1946), and as late as June 5 (in 1993).

High waters can cause an increased force of water flow that can impede the installation of dam uprights and lower gates along the canal, which are required for navigation pools between locks.

Increased flows also can cause significant damage to the gate uprights due to twisting and the inability to lock the uprights into position if the gates are installed too early.

For more information about the Canal System, click here or call (800)-4CANAL4