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Workshop will help Lake Ontario homeowners defend against shoreline erosion

Payne Horning

Water levels in Lake Ontario may be on the decline, but some of the damage from record-high levels remains. The shoreline in many communities is being wiped away, threatening homes and businesses.

Some who live along the lake are trying to adapt by beefing up their shorelines. Given that these events are unprecedented, Roy Widrig with New York Sea Grant said many property owners and even contractors are making mistakes that can make their situation worse.

"They'll just take large rocks, usually limestone blocks called rip rap, and they'll just put those on the shore hoping that they'll decrease the wave energy," Widrig said. A lot of times when they do that they're not built up high enough, they're not placed secure enough, and often times the wave energy action will go over the rock and kind of erode behind them. It just doesn't last very long."

To better help property owners, New York Sea Grant, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are teaming up to host a workshop to share best practices on shoreline erosion management. The goal is to help people build more resilient structures and make the best decision on what type of project is appropriate for their property given the diversity of Lake Ontario's shoreline.

"There are a lot of errors that people make when submitting these permits applications. Every time you make an error and have to go back and fix something, change a design, change a height of a design or the width or the slope, that sets your construction date back," he said. "These are very pressing issues for people and they want to get them fixed as soon as possible. We try to set this up so that they know exactly what they need to do going in."

The workshop will take place in webster on August 30. Registration is currently full, but Widrig said they are looking to host more workshops soon.

In the meantime, Widrig said people can check out the Sea Grant website for more information.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.