Lake Erie – Niagara River Ice Boom Installation Planned to Begin December 16, 2023
Installation of the ice boom for the 2023-2024 ice season is scheduled to begin as-early-as December 16, 2023, by the New York Power Authority (NYPA) crews, subject to safe in water working conditions.
Each winter since 1964, the Lake Erie-Niagara River Ice Boom has been installed near the outlet of Lake Erie to reduce the amount of ice entering the Niagara River. A reduction in ice entering the river reduces the potential for ice jams, which can result in damage to shoreline property and significantly reduce water flow for hydroelectric power production.
In accordance with the International Joint Commission’s (IJC) 1999 Supplementary Order of Approval, placement of the spans may begin when the Lake Erie water temperature at Buffalo reaches 4 degrees Celsius (39 degrees Fahrenheit) or on December 16, whichever comes first. As of December 14, Lake Erie water temperature at Buffalo, NY is 7 degrees Celsius (45 degrees Fahrenheit).
Ownership and cost of operating and maintaining the ice boom is shared equally by NYPA and Ontario Power Generation (OPG). While NYPA is responsible for installing, operating, and removing the ice boom, both NYPA and OPG are responsible for meeting any other United States or Canadian laws that may pertain to use of the ice boom. The IJC authorizes use of the ice boom within its mandate, through an Order of Approval. The International Niagara Board of Control administers the Order on behalf of the IJC and monitors the power entities operation of the ice boom and ice conditions throughout winter. The NYPA and OPG must ensure that the conditions of the Order of Approval are met in installation, operation, and removal of the ice boom.
The ice boom is installed at the outlet of Lake Erie, at the entrance to the Niagara River, to promote the formation and strengthening of a naturally occurring ice arch that reduces the amount of ice entering the Niagara River. The ice boom has substantially reduced the severity, number, and duration of ice runs from Lake Erie into the Niagara River that have potential to cause ice jams, damage shoreline property and reduce the capacity for water diversion to generate hydropower.
Severe storms with westerly winds may overcome the stability of the ice arch and force large masses of ice against the boom. The ice boom is designed so that when this occurs, it submerges and allows the ice to override it until the pressure is relieved. Once the storm subsides, the ice boom resurfaces and restrains ice which otherwise would flow down the river. The ice boom does not inhibit the flow of water from the lake into the Niagara River, which flows under the ice.
For more information on installation, operation, and removal of the ice boom contact Louis Paonessa, NYPA at (716) 286-6651 or Louis.Paonessa@nypa.gov
In USA contact Lynn Greer, Public Involvement Specialist to the International Niagara Board of Control at (716) 866-3417 or Lynn.M.Greer@usace.army.mil
In Canada contact Hafiz Ahmad, Canadian Secretary to the International Niagara Board of Control at (905) 220-8181 or firstname.lastname@example.org