The use of an “Ice Boom” to stop ice movement on the Lower Great Lakes has done, and continues to do, colossal damage to the Ecosystem. Ice flow is an essential force that counteracts the process of erosion and decay. Ice Movement also prepares the environment for reproduction of most of the native species of fish, plants, birds and animals. – Joseph Barrett (BanTheBoom.com)
Normally the ice boom is removed from the mouth of the Niagara River at the beginning of April. Only now are crews beginning the process, which led to the following interview with Joseph Barrett, a community activist who feels that the boom was never actually needed to begin with.
How much of an impact the Ice Boom is having on the weather?
The weather effect is measurable but really minimal. It is a red herring. the least of our concerns for the real price of stopping the ice. Not really to warmer weather.
What is the main reason the ice boom is still in the water?
The main reason the ice boom is still in the water is one of money. New York Power Authority (NYPA) makes more money when the intakes are not slowed with ice. It is also one of arrogance. Nobody except me ever questions what they do. They fear no one, they answer to no one.
How much of the lake is still frozen?
The Last quote I heard on ice coverage was 850 square miles. It’s probably down to 600 ish now.
Is it even possible to remove the boom with the frozen conditions?
They don’t remove it until there is 250 sq. miles left. This is meaningless to nature. Sure it’s possible but the contractors probably get more for severe conditions. Again with money.
Are you in favor of removing the ice boom completely?
I am totally in favor of the ice boom being outlawed. It is the single biggest threat to the entire Lower Great Lakes that we face. It does more damage than every other problem combined. This is counter intuitive thinking. People say, “What’s the harm of letting the ice melt in place?” What they should ask is “What happens when the ice is not allowed to move as nature intended?” This was the question I asked way back when and led to Ice Boom Theory.
When was the ice boom initially used? What year?
The present form of ice boom was first used in 1964.
Why was it initially used?
An earlier attempt at one used in front of the intakes alone was not strong enough for full ice runs.
What organization is responsible for the boom?
NYPA and the Canadian side are responsible but supposedly have to get re authorized to use it every 2 years by the International Joint Commission (IJC). This is a farce because it gets rubber stamped without a second thought.
Have there been appropriate studies conducted in regards to the need for the ice boom?
I have urged, hounded, written to, spoke at the meetings and warned IJC. countless times of the damage in an attempt to get a real study done. They completely ignore this or send an antique statement by email saying everything is just fine. The only studies done about the environmental impact of the ice boom were done in the early 60s. They claimed there were no adverse effects. These studies, (which I have a copy) are a joke. Just fluff, smoke and mirrors. My studies are real and when I sent my allegations to the relicensing people at Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), they misfiled them. Lost them for months. These are numbered documents with clear titles also. They were put with a Missouri gas pipeline project. When I question them and demanded a posting, the license was issued without public viewing or required comment period, in the middle of the night and 5 months ahead of schedule. Hmmm?
It is said that the boom protects Grand Island from flooding. Is that true?
Grand Island is not protected from flooding by the ice boom. Grand Island is in fact washing away at an alarming rate. Any unprotected shoreline is stripped of the sand, gravel, rip rap, protective vegetation by the current because there is no ice flow to replenish them. Now, the base of the island which is an alluvial clay, is exposed and the top soil which took thousands of years to form, is pouring into the water continuously. Huge old trees that were well inland when they sprouted, are now at the water’s edge with the roots washed bare.
It is said that the boom protects water intakes from clogging.
Yes the ice boom protects the intakes. They are 2 pipes 63 feet in diameter. NYPA disrupts the entire Lower Great Lakes ecosystem normal function to do this. Lake Erie is almost 10,000 square miles, The Niagara River is fairly long and Lake Ontario, while smaller, has way more volume than Erie. It also is starving the 1,000 Islands area of vital nutrients. So, the ice boom is the single biggest act of selfish overkill that the world has seen since burying a Pharaoh in a pyramid.
What needs to be done to address this ice boom issue, if anything?
What needs to be done to stop the use of the ice boom? I have been trying to figure that out for longer than it took to solve the problems the ice boom created. I suppose it will take shining a light on the ridiculous scope of damage one corporation is allowed to get away with for the sake of profit. It will require a public outrage. It will most likely involve Ohio and Pennsylvania suing to protect their interests in Lake Erie. It will take the charter captains of both Lakes organizing to ensure the return of a healthy balance in nature. It will take some public shaming of the officials that were supposed to protect the citizens and the environment from exactly this sort of thing. It will involve NYPA spending some of their obscene profits on redesigning and improving the intakes. It mostly will take awareness. It’s Western New York’s chance to return to a properly functioning ecosystem that brings health back to the Lower Great lakes in just 3 to 5 years. It would create jobs galore and mostly the return of the ice flow would become OUR spectacle. The single biggest spring time Eco-tourism event in the world. People would come from all over to see this event and we have 35 miles of shoreline to view it from so everybody can share in those dollars coming in. Better than Mardi Gras, Longer than the Super Bowl, way more exciting than Old Faithful that’s for sure.
Lead image: Image from the NYPA ice boom webcam, which can be found here.