Erosion expected to get worse in Huron County, says local environmentalist

Erosion, a growing issue for our coastlines, is only going to get worse, according to a panelist at the recent Is the Coast Clear Conference, put on by the Lake Huron Coastal Centre.

Pete Zuzek, President of Zuzek Inc., said there are a number of things to look at and all of them will tend to push erosion rates higher. They’re already seeing a significant reduction in lake ice.

“Especially the ice that forms along the shoreline, which historically would have buffered the shoreline from erosion in the winter,” said Zuzek. “We’ve seen the coverage from the 70s and the 80s, where we had on the order of 100 days of ice cover reduced down to a couple of weeks.”

Zuzek added studies done by Environment Canada and some researchers in Michigan provide more bad news. They point to the warming atmosphere being able to hold more moisture, leading to higher precipitation levels which will then translate into higher lake levels.

“So if we put that into context, when we are in a wet period such as the lead-up to 2019 and 2020, the forecast suggested it could rain even more in the future which will push lake levels even higher than what was experienced in 2020 on Lake Huron,” he said.

Zuzek said higher lake levels will allow the waves from the lake to move even further onshore. That will bring more energy which will lead to more wave erosion at the toe of the high bluff environment and the beach environment.

All of those factors mean that the erosion hazard is increasing and will continue to increase along the Lake Huron shoreline. Zuzek said the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority will be holding discussions about shoreline erosion throughout the summer and they want to talk to people about the problems they’re having. But he said one of the most effective methods is to move the infrastructure away from the shoreline.

“That’s often not a very popular outcome with land owners but when you look at the magnitude of these risks and the fact that they’re going to accelerate in the future, the best bang for your money is to look at ways you can strategically move infrastructure back,” he said.

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