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Sep. 21, 2019 | Saturday
Local News
Finally, Lake Ontario water level on decline, town says
Sandbags are staying in place on River Beach Drive. (Dariya Baiguzhiyeva/Niagara Now)

The water level in Lake Ontario has crested and is on the decline, says Brett Ruck, town’s manager of environmental services.

Earlier this spring, the lake level reached 75.83 metres, surpassing the 2017 record of 75.75 metres.

The high water prompted town staff to undertake flooding prevention measures but now that the water is receding, the town is removing some of its flood barriers.

About two weeks ago, nearly three metres of beach at Ryerson Park suddenly reappeared after being under about 30 centimetres of water since spring.

As of Tuesday, Aug. 13, the water level was 75.57 metres, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“It’s crested already. We’re on decline,” Ruck said. “Right now, we feel we’re safe enough we don’t need flood protection anymore.”

Town staff has removed bladders everywhere except Melville Street. Ruck said the bladders there will soon be removed and the pumps will be staying until the system can drain on its own.

The existing groyne, a pile of rocks stopping onshore waves and wind, is located to the left of the historic culvert at Ball’s Beach Park. More work involving the groyne will be done later when the water level is lower as high water levels prevent staff from seeing what’s going on underwater.

Ruck said he’s not in a big hurry to do the groyne as  shoreline protection is more important. 

Back in May, the town widened a footpath through a parkette near Delater Street to transport boulders and large rocks for the shoreline protection work. The bigger rocks have been put in place to stop the waves, but the rocks have to be placed a certain way to be fully effective, Ruck said.

The parkette will now be cleaned up and boulders will be removed so that pedestrians won’t trip over them, said Ruck. 

In case of a storm surge and for additional protection, about 10 flood protection bladders are being stored behind the town hall.

In June and July as water levels in the lake rose, the town warned Dock Area residents to be prepared in case of flooding. Sandbags were available at several locations and town staff placed bladders along Melville Street to protect the area. 

Check valves were used to keep the lake water out of the sewers and pumps were placed in the drains. The town was also working on sealing manholes so the sanitary system wouldn’t overflow.

“The water never went as high as the Ministry of Environment was saying it could go,” Ruck said. “It never went that high. I think we went as high as eight inches up above 2017 (level). It didn’t go to 10 inches.”

Lord Mayor Betty Disero said once the shoreline erosion protection, the town will have to come up with a master plan with long-term flood prevention solutions.

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