That time of year: In goes the ice boom

Dec 18, 2017

It's an annual tradition in our region - the installation of the winter ice boom across the Niagara River at Lake Erie - and this year work went quickly.

Lou Paonessa of the New York Power Authority says it can be a several-week process, bringing the pontoons off of the storage site, securing them to the breakwall and installing the buoy barrels in the lake.

"But the actual installation of the boom itself - the 22 steel pontoons stands out on the lake - that takes place on the water temperature hitting 39 degrees or December 16, whichever occurs first," said Paonessa. "Since the water temperature's been so warm this year, we had to wait until December 16 to actually start installing the stands out on the lake, and we had great weather to do that for a couple of days and it took two days."

The ice boom is designed to cut down on ice jams that could damage riverfront properties and the downstream power project intakes on both sides of the border.

"It's critical for power production for both the United States and Canada," Paonessa said. "It prevents the large ice flows from jamming up our intakes, but it also helps with ice flow and damage along the shoreline. Too much ice along the shore can do a lot of damage to docks and other public and private property, so it assists in that regard, as well."

The nearly two-mile-long ice boom has been installed annually since 1964.