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Bulwagga Bay project could be delayed

High water a problem

Mother Nature may delay work to save the Bulwagga Bay shoreline. The project, designed to stop beach erosion, is scheduled to be completed this fall. That timetable may need to be adjusted, though.

Mother Nature may delay work to save the Bulwagga Bay shoreline. The project, designed to stop beach erosion, is scheduled to be completed this fall. That timetable may need to be adjusted, though.

— Mother Nature may delay work to save the Bulwagga Bay shoreline.

The project, designed to stop beach erosion, is scheduled to be completed this fall. That timetable may need to be adjusted, though.

In order to do the work, the Lake Champlain water level must be no higher than 94 feet. Heavy rains earlier this summer swelled the lake to nearly 100 feet. It had dropped to 97.04 feet as of Aug. 14, according to the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and ECHO at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain.

“The lakes needs to be near its lowest point for us to do the work,” Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said. “We need the lake level to drop.”

The level of Lake Champlain varies within about 5 feet each year. The Bulwagga Bay project was scheduled for this fall because water levels are generally the lowest during late summer and early fall when runoff from tributary streams is lowest because of the movement of moisture back to the atmosphere (through evapotranspiration) over the summer. The water levels are usually highest from April to May because of high runoff in tributary streams due to snowmelt and low evapotranspiration.

Permits for the Bulwagga Bay project expire this year, but Scozzafava said the town may be forced to seek an extension and do the work in 2014.

“It’s an act of nature,” he said. “It’s beyond our control. We need the lake level to drop.”

The project will be completed at some point, Scozzafava stressed.

“It has to be done,” Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said. “The town board can’t sit back and let that shoreline erode. It’s a black and white issue; there’s no gray area. It has to be done.

“It’s a huge revenue source for the community,” he said of Bulwagga Bay. “It’s the most important piece of real estate the town owns. We can’t sit by and watch it disappear.”

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