Removal of Lake Erie - Niagara River Ice Boom Began Monday

March 06, 2017 - 8:00 am
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - The first phase of removing the Lake Erie - Niagara River Ice Boom began Monday.

The Ice Boom is installed each year to accelerate the formation and stabilization of the natural ice arch and to reduce the frequency of ice runs from Lake Erie into the Niagara River without eliminating the flow of ice. By reducing the frequency, it diminishes the probability of large-scale ice blockages, which could cause flooding, damage to shoreline property, and reduction in flow of water to the power plant.

"Typically they need to remove it by April 1 or when there's less than 250 square miles in the eastern part of Lake Erie," Keith Koralewski of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said. "Considering this has been such a mild winter the New York Power Authority and the Ontario Power Generation decided today, March 6, would be the day they would start to remove the Ice Boom."

The Ice Boom features 22 spans which run a total of 8,800 feet across the mouth of Lake Erie as it goes into the Niagara River.

"They'll start on the Canadian side," Koralewski explained. "They'll start to bring the spans over to the American side. They'll put them up against the break water until they get all the spans disconnected from the lake. After that, the next phase is to take the spans into an offseason storage location."

Depending on the weather, it will take days or weeks for the New York State Power Authority and the Ontario Power Generation to remove the Ice Boom as crews cannot operate during high winds and choppy waters.

Expect to see the Ice Boom return no earlier than December 16 or whenever the lake temperature reaches 39 degrees in the winter.
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