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Dec. 14, 2019 | Saturday
Local News
Water level causes problems at sailing club
Niagara-on-the-Lake Sailing Club members John and Chris Mills stand in lake water covering the docks. (Richard Harley/Niagara Now)

When Chris and John Mills went sailing Sunday, they both wore rubber boots — otherwise they might as well have gone for a swim, too.

The Niagara-on-the-Lake Sailing Club members had to wade through almost six inches of water to get to their boat — watching their footing on what is now a slippery, algae-covered dock, fully immersed in the lake.

Rubber boots are a common sight at the sailing club now, with the water level in Lake Ontario at a record high. But wet feet isn’t the biggest problem for the sailing club. John said the high levels were creating dangerous conditions for boat launchers, who couldn’t see where the edge of the dock was, made worse by cars driving through the parking lot and making the water muddy and murky.

“They were worried that when they were launching boats the lift couldn’t see where the edges were and they were afraid they were going to drive right off into the water.”

The club has since closed off the parking lot to vehicles to help reduce the murkiness, he said.

“They’ve got it all fenced off so you can’t go in anymore, but somewhere in that parking lot it goes from (inches deep) to 12, 13 feet in one step. So it’s dangerous, too,” Chris said.

For some boaters it’s become a hassle getting in and out of their spots at the dock.

“The docking’s not too bad just yet. It’s just craziness,” said John. “When I’m coming in I can’t see where this front dock is, so when you’re coming in, you come in dead slow and you have to be careful because you don’t want to run into it.”

“Mind you, right now the boat probably floats above (the dock) so you’d probably run into the fence before you hit the dock,” Chris added.

“The other thing is, it’s all OK right now, but what happens if there’s a storm, or what happens if some idiot goes by with a power boat with a big wake? What happens?” John said.

He said the lake levels haven’t been the same since “they changed how they let (the water out) the other end … they changed how they control the lake levels.”

Another problem was the water started taking oil off of the parking lot, said Chris.

“So what they normally do is they oil the parking lot in the summer because it gets dusty. It’s kinda like what they do on any dirt road, but when the water came up it actually pulled a lot of the oil off and put it into the water, and you could actually see in the very beginning of the year when we put the boats in that the oil was in the water a little bit.”

While things are under control for now, both Mills boys wonder what will happen if the water level rises even more.

“Ah well,” John said, walking away in rubber boots that could handle a few more inches.

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