WILSON -- Niagara County public safety officials joined with colleagues in neighboring counties in issuing a warning about dangers posed by high lake levels on Lake Ontario.
Niagara County Sheriff James R. Voutour and Community Safety Committee Chairman David Godfrey, R-Wilson, conferred this afternoon before announcing new safety measures due to concerns about submerged hazards and shore erosion brought on by the abnormally high lake levels.
“Due to the high lake levels on Lake Ontario, we are asking boaters to stay as far from shore as possible,” Voutour said following the conference. “We are concerned about shoreline erosion, submerged docks, and debris close to the shoreline. State Navigation Law requires a 100-foot ‘no wake zone,’ however we are asking boaters to observe a more prudent 500-foot limit.”
Godfrey noted county officials were also monitoring the impact on the county’s long Lake Ontario shoreline itself. Godfrey represents the Town of Wilson in county government, one of four Niagara County towns bordering the Great Lake.
“We are urging lakeshore residents and visitors to exercise caution walking the shoreline, particularly in areas where the shoreline includes a steep hillside,” Godfrey said. “Residents should be careful walking the edge of their property, and I’d caution them against the use of heavy mowers and other equipment. We don’t know right now if the banks are stable.”
Godfrey also noted he and the Sheriff were concerned about children and pets.
“Any time you allow children or pets to play outside on the lakeshore, you need to be vigilant, but now more than ever,” Godfrey said. “Parents should really try to keep their children as far from the lake edge as possible for the immediate future. Their children’s safety depends on it.”
The boater safety warning follows recent imposition of plans altering water levels on the lake imposed by the International Joint Commission. The plan was heavily criticized by local property owners and opposed by Niagara County’s government.