The Ohio Lakefront Group welcomed approximately 300 guests to its 2019 Annual Meeting. In addition, the group broadcast the meeting live via its Facebook page, a copy of which is available here for those with a Facebook account or here for those who do not.
At a short business meeting, the group elected a slate of officers that includes Greg Baeppler (Bay Village), Bob Bunsey (Huron), and Vitas Cyvas (Willowick). Other information, including a financial report, was presented.
After concluding the formal meeting, the group moved to educational discussions and presentations, hearing from Keith Senziak of the US Army Corps of Engineers, Jim Stouffer of the Lake Erie Foundation, and Tony Yankel, President of the Ohio Lakefront Group.
Following the meeting, there were a significant number of questions, especially as it relates to the current high water situation. A number of individuals asked if there is anything that is being done to artificially retain water in Lake Erie or if anything can be done to divert water to lower the lake levels.
Both Mr. Senziak (USACE) and Mr. Yankel, President of the OLG and an engineer) explained that there are no artificial controls of Lake Erie in terms of what is coming in and what is going out that have an impact on how high the waters of the Lake are right now. Only two of the Great Lakes (Ontario and Superior) have measures that could be said to artificially impact the inflow or outflow of Lake Erie. Neither of these have an impact on Lake Erie, because they are more than 300 feet lower than Lake Erie.
More than 90% of the water from Lake Erie flows from the upper Lakes (Huron and Michigan), through the Detroit River, and into Lake Erie. The high water levels are due to increased precipitation and increased storm activity in the area. There are several popular urban legends that flow regulation on the Niagara River is impacting the levels of Lake Erie, but these are not accurate from a scientific standpoint. There are some slight modifications that partially span the Niagara River, which serve to direct flow for aesthetic purposes over the Niagara Falls, however they do not control or limit the amount of water that flows out of the Lake. This provision has been governed by an international treaty with Canada signed in 1909. The flow structures, which only span part of the river, were installed in the late 50’s. Since that time, water levels have cyclically risen and fallen as part of the natural variation in water levels. In fact, if you think about it, a large part of the regulatory, legislative, and legal battle taken on by the Ohio Lakefront Group was made more obvious because Lake Erie’s water levels have been so cyclical.
Army Corps of Engineers Materials
Buffalo District Regulatory Website: https://www.lrb.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/
Great Lakes Data informational links: https://www.lrb.usace.army.
Detroit District Water Level Forecast Page: https://www.lre.usace.army.