Lake Erie – Niagara River Ice Boom Installation Planned to Begin December 10th, 2021
Installation of the ice boom for the 2021-2022 ice season could begin as early as December 10th, 2021, weather permitting.
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.
The Power Entities (New York Power Authority (NYPA) and Ontario Power Generation (OPG)) requested an early date for the start of installation of the boom for the 2020-21 ice season. After public consultation and review of the response, the International Niagara Board of Control (INBC) recommended to the International Joint Commission (IJC) that an earlier than usual start date would aid in ensuring that installation of the boom may be completed in a timely and safe manner, and so is in the public interest. The IJC issued a temporary order of approval allowing NYPA to begin installation of the boom as early as November 30th, for the 2020-21 ice season only, due to safety concerns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in Erie County New York, the Power Entities have requested for the 2021-22 ice season that installation begin as early as December 10. Extra installation time reduces the likelihood for dangerous, late-season installation, while providing time for implementation of any required safe COVID-19 working procedures. Based on the results of public consultation for the 2020-21 ice season , the INBC recommended to the IJC that the December 10th start date would be in the public interest for the 2021-22 ice season. The IJC approved the ice boom installation for this ice season as early as December 10th, 2021. NYPA expects the placement of the 22 spans of the Lake Erie-Niagara River Ice Boom to start as early as December 10th.
The IJC’s 1999 Supplementary Order of Approval states that placement of the ice boom may begin December 16th, or when the water temperature of Lake Erie at Buffalo, NY reaches 4 degreesC (39 degrees F), whichever comes first. The temperature of Lake Erie on December 7 was 4.4 degrees C (40 degrees F) which is very close to the 1999 Supplementary Order of Approval and with cool temperatures forecasted may reach the criteria before December 10.
The Power Entities ensure that the conditions of the Order of Approval are met in the installation, operation, and removal of the boom. Ownership, as well as the cost of operating and maintaining the boom, is shared equally by NYPA and OPG. NYPA is responsible for installing, operating, and removing the boom. The IJC authorizes the use of the ice boom within its mandate, through the Order of Approval. The INBC administers the Order on behalf of the IJC and monitors the power entities’ operation of the boom, as well as ice conditions throughout winter.
The ice boom is 2.7 kilometers (1.7 miles) in length and is installed each year to accelerate the formation and stabilization of the natural ice arch that forms at the outlet of Lake Erie near the head of the Niagara River. The ice boom is installed to reduce the frequency and duration of heavy ice floes from flowing down the Niagara River, because they can cause ice jams, damage shoreline property, and reduce the capacity for water diversion to generate hydropower. The ice boom does not change the flow of water from the lake into the Niagara River.
For more information on installation, operation, and removal of the ice boom contact the New York Power Authority.
Louis Paonessa: (716) 286-6651 Louis.Paonessa@nypa.gov
For more information regarding the IJC approval see the Board’s Ice Boom Information website at https://www.ijc.org/en/nbc/watershed/ice-boom
For more information regarding the IJC approval or to submit comments on the ice boom at any time:
In USA contact Lynn Greer, PAO to the International Niagara Board of Control at (716) 866-3417 or Lauren Schifferle at (716) 879-4335 or Lauren.M.Schifferle@usace.army.mil
In Canada contact Derrick Beach, Canadian Secretary, International Niagara Board of Control at (289) 983-0392 or Derrick.Beach@ec.gc.ca