web analytics

Dredging in Lake Erie

Posted on Aug 27, 2014

This past weekend while out at Barcelona Harbor, I witnessed some of the ongoing work being done to deepen the waterways within Lake Erie for the purposes of maintaining navigation channels for federal, commercial and recreational boats. Through the past few years, the channels have filled in significantly with sediments and debris from the increasingly intensifying storms, such as Superstorm Sandy, and the rate of erosion taking place within the area’s streams feeding into the great lake. With the growing risk of shoreline flooding and safety issues arising for boaters, it was determined that dredging would be used, as it has been in the past, to clear out the channels within Barcelona Harbor and other nearby areas this summer.

Lake Erie Dredging

Dredging in Barcelona Harbor

While dredging may be a quick solution to this issue, it does stir up (no pun intended) some controversy as it disturbs wildlife both above and below the water. It also has the potential to release any contaminants that might have settled to the lake floor into the water column, which has been a concern in other states as it could affect drinking water supplies. However, local landowners can help prevent the need to dredge (or at least the need to dredge as often) by doing their part in stabilizing stream banks or shoreline along their property. Although that may seem like quite an undertaking, some simple measures can help keep soils in place such as: planting trees, shrubs or flower gardens nearby (using native plants of course!). The root systems of the aforementioned will hang on to the soils as they are deeper rooted than the grasses in a typical yard and prevent massive quantities of sediment from being eroded away and deposited into the lake. And the view of the lake or stream shouldn’t be thought of as being blocked if these measures are taken, rather the view can be enhanced with beautiful blossoms or brightly colored fall leaves, etc.

Lake Erie as well as the other area lakes are valuable ecosystems that provides excellent habitat for a number of species, including us, to utilize. So let’s do our part and take simple steps towards making a better habitat for ourselves and others.

Elyse Henshaw
Conservation Technician