Nov 19, 2019
By Andy Adams
This is an urgent message from several News Week readers that action needs to be taken immediately, to lower the water levels in the Great Lakes. The International Joint Commission (IJC) is the body that has the authority to control the outflows of water through the Moses-Saunders Dam. That is where the water flows out the St. Lawrence to the sea…or doesn’t.
We ran a story a few weeks ago about new appointments to the IJC and that precipitated a significant response from readers who are on the Great Lakes, and who have suffered in both business and personal ways due to high water levels in 2017 and again last year in 2019.
Perhaps the most financially detailed response has come from MacDonald Turkey Point Marina on Long Point Bay on Lake Erie. Brad Thomson, the manager wrote that, “Due to the 2019 flooding, MacDonald Turkey Point Marina Inc. suffered significant shoreline and waterfront damage within the marina to all dockage areas and the trailer park, especially washouts of existing seawall. We also suffered damage to the piers near the mouth of the channel and reconstruction was required for two of our dockage roadways due to high water levels.”
“Our unplanned and unbudgeted mitigation efforts to maintain a safe and accessible facility for the approximately 2,000 customers within the Marina property caused significant financial hardship to our business. In total, we invested $291,153 to maintain what has been a safe and environmentally sound infrastructure for years.” Said Thomson.
In addition to that significant expenditure, he said that their season started approximately one month late due to the repairs that were needed as a result of the flooding, and to complicate the problem, they were unable to find additional skilled trades staff to keep up with the added work load.
So, they suffered major repair costs and also lost a big part of their seasonal business revenue due to the flood damage. But, it’s much bigger than that. His letter went on to detail over a million dollars more in further repairs that are now required at their marina.
The first person to respond to the original IJC story was Nelson Gilbert of Gilbert Marine in Brockville, Ontario. His is a multi-generation old family business on the water in Brockville, including the historic Gilbert Boats business.
Nelson sent us a very detailed series of letters and he included a NOAA chart showing the trending for the water levels. The chart shows that we have seen water levels many years ago that were almost as high as they are now, and that those years were managed using the previous IJC plan from 1958. However, a new IJC 2014 plan was in place during the 2017 and 2019 flooding. The results, like those suffered by MacDonald Turkey Point last year, look to be coming again in 2020.
The 2014 plan anticipates (plans for) both higher highs and lower lows – in other words wider fluctuations in the water levels
Nelson states, “I believe we are witnessing the largest destruction of private, commercial, provincial and federal land in the history of Ontario. We are talking about over 1000 miles of coastline when you factor in all of the islands, bays and tributaries.”
He also sent us this link to an online petition to drop the water levels in Lake Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence River: http://chng.it/jnmp2fL67R
This incudes the video and gives some useful background.
For a more detailed explanation of their position
Part 8: Municipal Plan https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_Kv9hO4YMw
In the hope that we can use our “voice” through Boating Industry Canada, News Week, Nelson and others have alerted us to a public rally taking place November 20th and a second rally November 23rd which will be at the IJC offices in Ottawa to Parliament Hill.
Rally in Trenton Nov 20th, 6-8 pm
Protest in Ottawa at Parliament Hill Nov 23rd, marching from IJC main office on Laurier St. To register: http://unitedshorelineontario.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Plan-2014-Protest-March-Nov-23-2019.pdf
To quickly wrap up; we all understand that climate change is real and is partially a factor here, but the Great Lakes water levels are controlled through Lake Ontario by our Canadian and U.S. governments, through the IJC.
In the summer of 2019, marinas and property owners were severely affected in Georgian Bay, Muskoka and throughout the Great Lakes basin shoreline areas. The reduction in boat use caused by the flooding, and the direct loss of income by marinas and tourism businesses was dramatic.
Our industry needs to speak out now, to help prevent severe spring flooding in 2020.
Photos by Carlyn Moulton