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Niagara Falls
Friday, July 12, 2024
Wind, water seriously damage stone groyne on waterfront

The water level in Lake Ontario has been falling steadily for most of the last several months, easing fears about springtime flooding, but the lower level has taken a huge toll on the stone groyne the town built in the dock area.

The $300,000 groyne, designed to protect the shoreline around Ball's Beach, consists of massive stones carefully placed into the lake last fall by contractors hired by the town.

However, with the water level now more than two feet lower than it was a year ago, powerful waves this spring have eroded the groyne and some of the large anchor stones have broken away.

Ron Simkus, a retired engineer who lives nearby and issues a weekly newsletter that tracks lake water levels, says one of the large anchor stones was dislodged overnight on April 1-2.

“Strong winds and resulting waves coming from the northeast last night took a further toll on the damaged dock area groyne and the pounding at low lake elevation will continue through the weekend and into next week,” he said in his April 2 message.

“The toll on the massive anchor stones is taking place on three sides and it's hard to say how far this will continue,” he said.

By this past Monday, he noted, “the damage to the groyne has stopped during the calm winds we're experiencing (but) the breakaway stone did move farther away from the groyne.”

“With continued low lake levels all summer, any major storm will probably do more undermining and maybe even take another piece off,” Simkus told The Lake Report.

Lake levels rose three inches last week, the first sizable jump in months, according to data from Simkus.

However, the water was 27 inches lower than the same week a year ago and 18 inches below the level on March 31, 2019, he said.

The U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers is forecasting a six-inch rise in Lake Ontario through the end of April, Simkus said.

Lord Mayor Betty Disero says the town is working on a solution.

“Staff have been meeting with everyone involved contractors, engineers etc. to sort out what happened and what steps to take,” she told The Lake Report.

The stone groyne formed a sort of “boulder beach” to protect the area from erosion. “It was a beautiful thing,” Disero said.

Last fall as work on the project was underway, Brett Ruck, the town's environmental services supervisor, said the rock groyne was designed so people could walk out onto it.

“We've actually placed rocks in there so they're more like stepping stones,” Ruck said then, adding that the town has filled up some of the voids with clear stone, so people don't slip in between the rocks and get hurt.

Now there is temporary fencing up to discourage people from walking on the rocks.

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