WINDSOR -- A warning to residents across Windsor-Essex that the flood risk will remain high this winter.

Officials from the Windsor Port Authority and the Essex Region Conservation Authority say flooding is still a major concern because of ice.

Harbour master Peter Berry tells CTV Windsor water levels are still higher than records set in 1986 and residents should prepare for a difficult winter.

"As much as it looks like we've receded a lot, we're still above the historical highs," says Berry. "With that water is going to come ice, so that soft water will become hard water. That hard water is that much more difficult to manage when it starts to move."

ERCA Director of watershed management Tim Byrne says water levels have dropped about 10 inches since they peaked in late August, but he predicts there will be flooding over the winter months.

"We are gravely concerned about the levels that we are seeing right now," adds Byrne. "This is not something to be complacent with."

Berry points out high water problems don't go away with cold weather.

"It's not something that we can manage very well," admits Berry. "We don't have a lot of assets in the area relative to responding to ice emergencies. There is no ice rescue in this municipality and there is some in neighbouring municipalities but we still have to call for it."

Byrne tells CTV Windsor high water levels should be a top priority for the provincial and federal governments.

"It's kind of sad though that some people don't accept the fact that people could be killed in a flood."

Byrne adds work permits to repair and save shoreline property have more than doubled over the last five years, but he admits it seems like a losing battle when lake levels are unforgiving.

"We're risk managing that and that is not a safe or appropriate thing to do, to risk manage the potential loss of life. And that is real."

Both Berry and Byrne say if the water levels persist the way they have for much of 2019, they predict 2020 will be more troublesome for shoreline property owners.

Six Month Outlook

A new report from the U.S. seems to support their concerns, forecasting that Great Lakes levels are likely to remain unusually high and may set additional records.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in Detroit on Monday released its outlook for the next six months.

Hydrologist Keith Kompoltowicz says a wet October interrupted the usual fall drop-off of water levels.

Storms over Lakes Michigan, Huron and Superior caused beach erosion, flooding and damage to seawalls and roads.

Kompoltowicz says all five Great Lakes are expected to resume their seasonal decline. But they'll remain well above normal and will be higher in January than they were at the beginning of this record-setting year.

He says Huron and Michigan are likely to set monthly records in February, while Superior will come close.

Kompoltowicz says a lengthy dry spell would be required to reverse the trend.

With files from The Associated Press.