BUFFALO, N.Y. (WNY News Now) – Installation of the ice boom for this winter season kicked off on Friday.
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. Current water temperatures at Buffalo, NY is 6 degrees Celsius (43 degrees Fahrenheit).
Ownership and cost of operating and maintaining the ice boom is shared equally by New York Power Authority (NYPA) and Ontario Power Generation (OPG). 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.
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.
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