ODNR and Coastal Management hold Meeting in Eastlake to address Shore Erosion

The following is excerpted and annotated from the Lake County News Herald on line report on the meeting.

It was standing room only as over 75 people filled the board room at the Northern Career Institute in Eastlake for a town hall meeting June 14 on erosion damage caused by the near record high water level of Lake Erie.
The water level is currently 22 inches above the long-term normal for May, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. And the 573.56 feet above sea level is less than an inch from Lake Erie’s record set in June 1986.
Attendees at the meeting heard what options the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Office of Coastal Management had to offer on how they could protect existing lakefront properties and prevent further damage.
Scudder D. Mackey, chief of ODNR Office of Coastal Management, and Deborah Beck, assistant chief of the Office of Coastal Management gave a powerpoint presentation during the meeting in which they discussed water levels, shoreline types, cause and effects of erosion, erosion control solutions, temporary shore structure permits and available assistance. (we will post these as soon as they are available)
Mackey pointed out that many property owners may already have shoreline protections that were installed back in the 1970s and 1980s in response to earlier high water events.
“The average lifespan of these structures may be 30 years, 40 years or 50 years depending on how well these structures were built,” Mackey said. “The point is, is that many of those structures that are there now are deteriorating. During the low water levels we didn’t pay too much attention to those structures because we didn’t have erosion, we had nice beaches.”
Beck cited some of the causes of erosion as wind, waves and surface water runoff and the effects include bluff slumping, sliding, toe erosion rain, rill and gully erosion and ground water seepage and outflow.
According to Beck, beaches are the most effective preventive against erosion. (However, most beaches have beed eroded or flooded by the high water)
Other options she presented included revetments which would be large angular rocks on the slopes of the bluffs and sea walls which are vertical structures made of concrete or steel where the land and water interface.
Beck also advised property owners that if they had vegetation on their bluff to leave it because it would (help) provide protection against erosion
Normally, to add any of these measures, shoreline property owners would need to apply for a shore structure permit which involves inspection of land and design plans by an engineer to ensure structures are structurally sound.
Due to the high water and property owners needing to get protection put in place before more property is lost, the ODNR has recently started issuing temporary shore structure permits, which takes one to two weeks to obtain versus the usual three to six months and only requires sketches and pictures.

 (This measure was established at the urging of the Ohio Lakefront Group.)
The temporary permits are intended to allow for emergency construction of new shore erosion control measures or to repair unpermitted structures. They are only good for two years and property owners will be required to then apply for a permanent shore structure permit.
A temporary permit does not require a special engineer to design the project where the permanent permit does require one.
According to Beck, ODNR will come out to meet with homeowners to discuss what can be done to protect their property from erosion.
To apply for the temporary shore structure permits property owners can visit coastal.ohiodnr.gov/tssp

 (To download the permit for printing, click the green block near the top of the page)

They will need to complete the one-page application and provide a site location map which can be pulled from Google Maps, a project sketch showing an overhead view of the planned project and a side view sketch of the planned project which can be hand drawn.

Beck also discussed the available assistance to property owners located in a designated erosion area and those include free technical assistance and a coastal erosion area loan program.
The technical assistance involves someone coming out from ODNR to inspect the damage and see what solutions are available that would fix or prevent further damage.
“The Coastal Loan Program is administered by the county. If you live in Lake County it’s administered by the Planning Commission,” Beck said. “Those are low-interest loans. They will cover the design and construction of erosion measures for properties located in a designated erosion area.” (Commissioner Dan Troy advised that there is really no money for these loans and he only knows of one loan since 2005.)
For those unsure if their property is in a designated erosion area they can contact ODNR Coastal Management Office at coastal@dnr.state.oh.us or 419-626-7980.
Loan information and application can be found at coastal.dnr.oh.us.gov/erosionloans
Beck also suggested that to keep cost down multiple property owners located next to each other could go in together for a structure that runs the length of the adjacent properties.
Beck also discussed the Coastal Management Grants. The competitive grants can be applied for by local, county and regional governments for the purpose of coastal planning, restoration, public access, research and water quality improvements projects. (These grants are for public land.)
Following the presentation, state Rep. John Rogers, D-Mentor-on-the-Lake, discussed a bill being presented by state Sen. John Eklund, R-Munson Township, which if passed would add Lake Erie shoreline improvement projects to a list of public improvements that could possibly be financed by a special improvement district, and would allow state owned public trust land to be included in a SID created for shoreline improvement purposes. (This bill is unlikely to be passed this year, as the focus will be on the upcoming election.)
State Sen. Kenny Yuko, D-Richmond Heights, feels that many people probably aren’t happy with the options and answers provided at the meeting and more than likely will have to plan a follow-up meeting.