The recent rise in water levels on Lake Huron has the town of Goderich, Ontario spending more than $1 million to protect its treatment plant for drinking water.
Municipal officials became concerned in August about increasing erosion and rising lake levels, according to Mayor John Grace.
"That's a very significant piece of infrastructure for the community, that's our drinking water," said Grace. "If we did nothing, there could be damage to the plant and its chlorination equipment. We had no choice but to move as quickly as possible."
The town hired a contractor to truck in tonnes of armour stone from the Owen Sound area as a measure to keep rising water away from the plant, according to CBC. The stone will be used to form a wall along the shore to protect the water plant and its surrounding area from flooding.
The original plan was to wait until spring 2020 to do the work, but the town had to step up that timetable to ensure the plant was protected, reported CBC. Work began in early December and could continue until February, depending on weather.
The final bill will likely be between $1.5 million and $2 million, according to CBC. Goderich will dip into reserves built up by water user fees to pay for the work.
The town also had to replace a lakeshore boardwalk battered by high waves during storms in the fall. High water levels have caused issues for property owners up and down Lake Huron in 2019, according to CBC. Throughout 2019, lake levels have approached the record set in 1986.
Over the past 50 years, the lake levels ranged from a low of about 175 meters to a high of 177.5 meters set in 1986.
"What's different this time is the speed of the rate of rise," said Stephen Jackson, the flood and erosion safety service coordinator with the conservation authority. "So we hit a record low in 2013 and here we are in 2019 at record levels. At the end of the day, it really comes down to what the weather is like in the coming months.”
The high water levels causing problems in Goderich are also leading to erosion of the high cliffs, which threatens lakefront properties. Property owners concerned about lake levels are advised to contact their local conservation authority before building any expensive shoreline protection.