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Health & Science

Researcher Says 'Armored Shorelines' Contributing to Great Lakes Erosion Issues

Lake Erie
ELIZABETH MILLER
/
WCPN
Chris Winslow at Ohio State's Stone Lab in Lake Erie says concrete and steel barriers have replaced vegetated shorelines that could naturally buffer rising waters.

Geneva-on-the-Lake continues to experience massive amounts of erosion due to high water on Lake Erie. Dr. Chris Winslow, director of Ohio Sea Grant College Program at Stone Laboratory, says this problem is not unique to Geneva.

Winslow says these high amounts of erosion are being experienced across the Great Lakes region and are due to water levels reaching historic highs, as well as a lack of ice coverage. Water levels have been rising over the years as a result of precipitation from both spring rain events and heavy snow packs from the upper Great Lakes melting.

Winslow believes that for long term sustainability, Great Lakes’ coastal communities need to return to nature based shorelines.

“We’ve removed a lot of those wetlands and vegetated shorelines that basically naturally try and help buffer these sea level rises, and we’ve gone in and instead just put concrete and steel barriers or what we call armored our shorelines.”

Winslow says water levels around the Lake Erie islands are 30 to 32 inches higher than the long term historic average, and all of the Great Lakes have surpassed historic highs.