Ice boom returns to Lake Erie

Dec 15, 2014

Crews from the New York State Power Authority and Ontario Power Generation will begin to install the Ice Boom Monday. Buffalo District Chief of Water Management Keith Koralewski says the ice boom has been a standard on Lake Erie over the winter since 1964.

Niagara River Ice Boom
Credit NASA.gov

“The ice is more than 250 square miles. The ice boom will remain in until the ice coverage is below 250 square miles,” said Koralewski. 

The purpose of the boom is to reduce the amount of ice entering the Niagara River and in turn reducing ice  jams and damage to shorelines, while maintaining the water flow for hydropower production.

The installation process is overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Koralewski says there are two main criteria for deciding when to install the ice boom.

“One is the Lake Erie water temperature. When the water reaches 39 degrees or December 16th, whichever comes first,” said Koralewski. 

The boom runs from the U.S. to Canada, near Lake Erie's outlet and the entrance to the Niagara River. It’s expected to be removed from the waters in April 2015.