Although the recent rise in water level is minimal, retired mining engineer Ron Simkus continues to warn residents and town staff not to become complacent.
“After the glorious sunny weekend a few residents have asked me if the lake has started to fall and by how much,” said the Dock Area resident Monday, in the email blast he sends out regularly to about 100 people.
“I don’t want to rain on everyone’s parade, but the lake actually rose this weekend an imperceptible half an inch,” he said.
“The Niagara River is still on a rampage.”
Contrary to rumour, he added, “the lake has not crested yet and there is no justification to relax on outstanding shoreline work that needs to be completed ASAP.”
Environment Canada is still predicting Lake Ontario will continue to rise, and is also warning about extreme winds and turbulent storms to come this summer, he said.
And it’s the wind that worries him, not the water level.
“This is still a very dangerous situation. It’s not good news for us.”
There is work he would like to see completed by the Town next week. There are large boulders along the Dock Area parkette waiting to be partially buried in the ground, and he believes that should be done next week.
The remainder of the project, which involves putting rocks in offshore to bolster rock islands that will break up waves, can wait until the water level goes down.
Brett Ruck, the Town’s environmental supervisor, said he’s feeling pretty confident the shoreline and flood protection now in place will hold up.
Although he’s not dismissing Environment Canada warnings, he sees the water level holding steady, with minor fluctuations, and will wait until the water level falls before proceeding to move rocks into the water.
“It’s not going down yet, but it might have levelled off,” he said. “I’m feeling confident we have the proper measures in place to protect residents.”
Simkus says the water level may stay where it is for months, with many opportunities for the storms Environment Canada is predicting.
If there is damage to homes and properties along the waterfront, that’s what will cause it, he said.
“We’ve lucked out so far, but it’s a long summer.”
If the parkette work is completed, it would free up water bladders that could be moved to River Beach Drive, where the waterfront is lined with old bladders that leak, Simkus said.
Tourists are making the leaks worse by opening up the fencing installed by the Town and “using my bladders to play bouncy castle,” said Ruck. Town staff are working on tying the pieces of fence to make it more difficult for people to access the bladders, he said.
Simkus said he’s watched one tourist get through the fence onto the bladders, only to see 100 more crowd through in a short amount of time.
Fire department deputy chief Nick Ruller has been working with the Regional emergency planning department to ensure the Town is doing what it can to protect residents. Patricia Martel of the Region visited NOTL to see the situation for herself, to see that NOTL is doing all it can to be prepared for what may come.
“She just wanted to get onsite and see what we’re facing,” said Ruller.
“She indicated we’re well on our way, with pro-active measures,” including the bags for shoreline protection, protection for hydro transformers, and use of the CIS mapping system to predict the impact of rising water.
Her only suggestion, he said, was to add signage to warn people away from areas where they might be at risk, and that has been done.