To the editor: The article in the Jan. 23 edition of The Beacon has the article “High Lake Erie water levels expected to continue.” Near the end of the article, it mentions that, “There is no human regulation of water levels in Lake Erie, unlike Lakes Superior and Ontario, so Lake Erie gets the overflow.”
I am not sure that it is necessarily true that “there is no human regulation.” The U.S. Corps of Engineers do quote this very fact; however, there are statements that could use clarification.
There is a weir located at the International Niagara Control Works Dam, which can be viewed in the following link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Control_Dam#/media/File:Niagara-Tunnel-Project.gif
The weir, located upstream from Niagara Falls and operated under the International Joint Commission (IJC), controls the flow of water to the power generation plants, Adam Beck I and Adam Beck II, as well as forcing water up over the crest line of the American and Bridal Falls, for tourism. (Ref. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Niagara_Falls_hydroelectric_generating_plants)
From the documentation found at, http://falzguy.com/some-info-on-nf.html, the crest line elevation of the American falls is approximately 510 ft. and the Horseshoe Falls elevation is at approximately 502 ft. (The higher the crest line, the tougher it is to get water over it!)
In short, the weir is blocking the flow from Lake Erie, forcing the water to rise high enough to go over the American and Bridal Vail Falls.
When the weir is in a fully opened position to maximize flow, the flow of water over the Horseshoe Falls will increase significantly, thus lowering the Lake Erie water level more quickly. (Several months of maximized flow would be required to make any effect on the Lake Erie water level, but it is a start. This will affect, i.e., reduce the flow over the American and Bridal Falls, as well as to the two hydroelectric power plants. There is legislative agreement in place between the two countries under the IJC, and controlled by a 1950 Niagara Diversion Treaty, to insure sufficient power to the hydroelectric dams and to assure that there is a beautiful fall of water over Niagara Falls. This treaty is 70 years old.
Further downstream from Lake Ontario to the St. Lawrence River, the Moses Saunders Dam, also under control of the IJC, generates hydroelectric power as well as controls the outflow of the Great Lakes into the St. Lawrence.
There is another part of IJC Plan 2014, “F limit”, which limits the water height at Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in which the city is impacted by the outflow of the Canadian Ottawa River. There is an interaction between the flow of the Ottawa River and the St. Lawrence, which can cause flooding of Montreal, thus limiting the outflow of the Moses Saunders Dam which controls the level of Lake Ontario.
Sighted in most of the regulations is the commerce of the “tourist trade” and “Commercial Shipping” business, as well as some degradation to the smaller islands and wildlife habitats in the water channels. As an example, it appears that many of this issues with high water we all are experiencing appears to be driven by the shipping. Please see the following article:
St. Lawrence water levels could wash away more than $1B
The above listed article, with comments from Bruce Burrows, president of the Chamber of Marine Commerce, identifies that billions of dollars that would be lost in commerce.
In review of other websites covering the water levels in all of the Great Lakes, all web-sights are commenting about the high level of water and the severe shore erosion that is happening for both Canadian and US home owners. Many homes are now uninhabitable due to the high water levels.
We Lake Citizens should be concerned with the multi-billion dollar price tag of the damaged homes and the flood insurances that the Canadian and U.S. lake residents are forced to fix and fund. Not releasing the waters due to erosion of bird habitats or Commercial Shipping is not acceptable. We the citizens are funding Commercial interests and being overridden by waterfowl habitats. All States and Providences in Canada, using their legislative representation needs to make their local, State, and Provincial representatives understand that this is not a Lake Ontario issue, it is a Great Lakes Issue.
- Flow out of Lake Erie needs to be maximized to the highest level.
- Flow out of the Moses Saunders Dam needs to operate at the highest level until the Great Lakes get back to a more normal level.
- Commerce and Habitats will have to take a back seat to the residents of these Great Lakes.
- A Federal and Proventil Watch Dog Citizens committee needs to be put in place to assure that the IJC is maximizing the operation of the system.
- Alternate outflow of the Great Lakes System by use of existing canals should be operated to maximize their flow of water to the ocean.
I hope that The Beacon can pull support from other communities within the Great Lakes System to put pressure on the IJC to follow the guidelines of Regulation Plan 2014 and to determine alternate solutions for the reduction of the Great Lakes water levels.
Mark Waltz, Port Clinton