Best shoreline protection options for Huron residents

The coastal stewardship coordinator with the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation has heard from a lot of shoreline residents concerned about high lake water levels.

But Hannah Cann said people who have lived along the shoreline for some time recognize it’s just part of the normal five to six-year cycle. It’s just that the last low-water cycle lasted about 12 years.

Cann said a lot of people are asking about gabion baskets and armour stone as protection for their shoreline. But she suggested that kind of protection doesn’t work particularly well in the Great Lake environment and if they are used, they should be put in place when lake levels are at their lowest, not their highest.

Cann explained overall they’re not a good way to protect the shoreline, “because when we install hardened shorelines it affects the coast’s ability to do coastal processes so that eroding of bluffs ends up feeding the beaches farther south. But if we harden the shoreline it stops that from happening, it stops feeding the beaches.”

She also pointed out several conservation authorities and municipalities have regulations prohibiting the use of those structures. Cann said there are better alternatives for protection a shoreline against high water levels.

“So anytime basically after this year for the next six to twelve years, really beefing up those natural structures that help protect your property. So that’s planting dune grass, setting up sand fencing, re-building those dunes. That way when the lake levels come up again, those dunes take the bulk of the abuse from the rising lake levels,” she said.

Cann added removing the vegetation eliminates that protection.