LORAIN — Part of Lakeview Park beach is slowly eroding into Lake Erie, and there’s little park managers can do to prevent it.
According to Lakeview Park Manager Bryan Goldthorpe, about 2,500 square feet on the west end of the beach has been affected in some way, with 1,500 square feet lost over the past year and a half.
That portion of the beach was affected most because of its lack of protection, he said.
Three breakwaters — structures designed to protect shorelines from waves — sit about 300 feet from the coast of the beach, but they are not positioned to prevent erosion on the west end.
Goldthorpe said Lorain County Metro Parks is seeking a possible solution to protect the shoreline before restoring it.
Any additional breakwaters and the beach restoration would require permits from the Army Corps of Engineers and also involve the city of Lorain, which leases the land to the park system. And funding would have to be found.
However, Metro Parks Director Jim Ziemnik said there’s not much that can be done about the rising water levels for the shoreline.
“There’s only so much you can do working with nature,” he said. “… it’s sort of the nature of going up against a Great Lake.”
According to a weekly forecast from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for Friday, Lake Erie’s water levels have reached an all-time high. The forecast shows the water level broke 3 inches above the record for June that was set in 1986. The forecast also indicated that Lake Erie, along with Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron and St. Clair, are 9 to 13 inches above their levels compared with a year ago.
The reason for the rising water level, according to the forecast, is large amounts of rainfall. Last month, precipitation in the Great Lakes basin was 22 percent above average. A June 4 news release from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers explained how the increase of precipitation, wind and rising water levels will add to Lakeview Park beach’s fate.
“The Great Lakes region will continue to see the threat of coastal flooding and shoreline erosion especially during storm events,” the release said. “Localized water levels are often impacted by winds and can be significantly higher during storms. Water levels and flow rates in the connecting channels of the Great Lakes are also high and may, depending on winds and other atmospheric conditions, lead to localized flooding.”
Mike Griffin, lead meteorologist at the Cleveland National Weather Service, said the wind especially affects Lake Erie, which is the shallowest of the Great Lakes. Northern winds create higher waves, leading to more erosion of shorelines, he said.
Griffin said the flooding also is caused in part by other Great Lakes, because they are like a series of bathtubs draining into each other. Since there was abnormally large snowfall in the northern states last winter, he said, the gradual melting of the snow makes its way through the lakes and eventually to Lake Erie.
For safety reasons, a fence was set up along the western shoreline at Lakeview Park beach that is partially submerged and eroded. Park administrators are evaluating what actions to take for safety and preservation.
“With the assessment of the current state of affairs, we will continue to evaluate it and slow this down and protect it, but there’s only so much we can do. We can’t stop it,” Ziemnik said.