SAULT THIS WEEK, LOCAL NEWS
Sault sailors get study money but none for dredging.
By Bob Mihell, Sault This Week
Tuesday, March 19, 2013 10:43:57
Algoma Sailing Club recently received Trillium funding to help address the
negative effects of low water levels on Lake Superior that affect the club’s
“We got money to do survey work,” Brian Christie said, explaining that they
hired Tulloch Engineering to do the work.
“Basically it is survey work at this point to determine if we have enough depth
of overburden,” said Christie.
“With the water levels the way they are, particularly the way they were last
fall, we may not be able to get the boats in the water.
“Given the amount of snow we’ve had this year, it may be better than last, but
the trend is to lower water levels in the Great Lakes,” said Christie.
“The ice was thick enough for them [Tulloch Engineering] to go out in front of
the docks and drill holes in the ice, to see how far down the bedrock was, and
they surveyed that depth.
“They also surveyed the depth to the top of the material that is sitting on top
of the bedrock: sand, gravel, and mud; we had to get a sense of what is there.
“The question is, is there enough stuff on top of the bedrock to remove it to
get the depth we need? Where is it, and how much is there?” Christie said.
“We have the preliminary findings, and it looks quite good.
“The next question is, where do we get the money to dredge. That has yet to be
“In 2000/2001, the Upper Great Lakes were in the same situation with the low
water levels,” Christie said.
“Back then the federal government, through Fisheries and Oceans, came up with
emergency dredging funds, which the club was able to access, to do some dredging
to relieve the situation.
“We have not seen anything from the federal government at this point. The U.S.
government, on the other hand, took the initiative and is dredging as we speak,”
“At this time, the Canadian government hasn’t offered anything. There have been
so many changes in federal laws in the last few years, it’s confusing to know
who is responsible for what around the Great Lakes. We’re not sure who in
government we would ask about it.”
Sault This Week contacted Sault MP Bryan Hayes, to ask about this issue on
Friday. Hayes asked for time to do some research in Ottawa, and responded Monday
“I don’t have answers regarding funding for dredging,” he said.
“I put out queries, but to my knowledge, there is no funding for dredging, but
that isn’t necessarily the case.
“We have to look at this circumstance by circumstance; the question becomes,
what exactly are they asking for? I am looking into it through either Fisheries
and Oceans, or maybe the Ministry of Environment,” Hayes said.
“There is a lot of concern over water levels in the Great Lakes; we hear about
it every day. We are waiting for a report by the International Joint Commission.
Their report has either just been released or will be released very soon, and
will have a number of recommendations on how to address lower water levels in
the Great Lakes.
“That study could have a bearing as well. I am exploring possibilities and am
waiting to review the report from the International Joint Commission,” Hayes
Algoma Sailing Club had difficulty in getting its boats out in the fall, and, in
fact, could not get them all out.
“We’ve got the two main docks, and we have a gin pole, and that gin pole has a
cable on it through which we raise and lower the masts, particularly for the big
boats, that holds the masts up. It’s a mechanical advantage,” said Christie.
“You have to get the big boats with the keels on them to the gin pole so they
can put the masts up, and in the fall, we want to take the masts down. In the
fall, we didn’t have enough water to take three of the bigger boats out. We had
to send them to Detour, Michigan, to get them out.
“That’s a day’s motor sail away. The boats are there now,” Christie said.
“The water levels fluctuated and we were watching them almost hourly until they
closed the power gates on the river. That meant the water level would drop. When
they open the gates, more water comes in from Superior so we could get a couple
of boats in, and get the masts down.
“We managed to get all but one in on time, to get the mast down.
“We were within an inch of being on the bottom. We don’t want to go through that
again in the spring, and lose a boating season,” Christie said, adding that the
low water will impact more than just the club.
“We have the tall ships coming back this year, as part of the 1812 program. They
go to Bondar. We hope there’s enough depth there.”