Port Stanley flooding concerns rise in September The most peculiar thing about visiting Cliff Somerville is the drain at the back door to his property, Harbour House Shops and Residences, at 194 Main Street. He has cleared the patio stone and gravel away to expose the drainpipe and as alarming as it seems to a visitor, Somerville remains quite calm as the water level in and around the drain rises and falls in sync with Kettle Creek water levels. During a 30-minute meeting recently, the drain is practically dry at first, but rises nearly one foot before receding. That’s on a sunny summer day. When there’s a storm surge, Somerville’s security videos show water pouring over the channel wall, across the pedestrian walkway, and sloshing off the Harbour House walls. While the doors prevent the storm surge from entering, hydrostatic pressure in the earth below causes flooding in the basement. He had to relocate a tenant earlier this year. Torrential rainfalls, both in the village and elsewhere in the Kettle Creek watershed, are also a problem for Somerville. He has three drains on his property and because the ground water level is so high, the storm water runoff causes a reverse action that floods his property. “It comes in like a tsunami … a big bubble moving down the creek,” Somerville said in a recent interview. “It’s a six-to- eight-inch wave exiting the harbor. That’s when it backs up through the drains and laps over the seawall.” Somerville’s situation is influenced by the fact that the east seawall is more than a foot lower than the west seawall. They were constructed that way to accommodate the freeboard requirements of fishing tugs and lake freighters respectively. Freeboard is the height of a ship's side between the waterline and the deck. “I’m not happy about this, but there’s nothing I can do about it, and it’s not forever,” added Somerville. He has flood insurance on the building, but with a $10,000 deductible. “There are some things you cannot do. You can’t stop the water. All I can do is manage the water at this point. I’m pleased the problems are manageable.” He bought the 102-year-old building in 1994, with deeded ownership reaching to the water’s edge. It was built to accommodate a fish processing business, East Side Fish Company, originallywithgaragedoorsalong theback that opened to allow access for lift trucks. Kettle Creek Canvas Company, a home-grown national clothing company, owned the building in the ‘80s. The property now has a historical designation.
(streets), (as well as) West Edith Cavell Blvd.,” Perrin added in his report. “When the wind comes out of the south … there is typically a surge that runs up the creek and results in very rough water,” Perrin continues. “This is due to the mouth of the harbor not being protected by a breakwater.” Those waves can reach one meter in height and last year, waves were large enough to rip one fish tug off the wall and slam it against the lift bridge. In consultation with the Kettle Creek Conservation Authority and Brian Riggs, of Riggs Engineering, Central Elgin is proposing a variety of solutions:
A report prepared by Lloyd Perrin, Central Elgin’s Director of Physical Services, shows that as of July 16, 2019 the daily means elevation of Lake Erie is 175.13 meters, about 0.80 meters above the historic average elevation. That’s also nine centimeters above the previous record high water level in 1986. “In 1986, when the elevation of Lake Erie was 175.05 meters, the wave uprush reached north of Edith Cavell Blvd., with localized flooding of Edith Cavell, Bessie, Maud (and) William Page 2 Port Stanley Villager • September 2019 To advertise here, please contact Joe@villagerpublications.com • Precast concrete “jersey” barriers, like those used to channel traffic, for a stretch along the east pier, at a cost of $51,220; • A floating breakwater within the channel, deployed for the fall storms and withdrawn for the winter, $150,000; • Up to four permanent groin structures within the harbor, 10 meters long, five meters wide, two on the east side and two on the west, $75,000 per structure; • A 50-meter, armor stone breakwater, extending across the channel from the end of the west pier, $500,000; and • A new breakwater across the mouth of the harbor, $3 million.
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