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.”
The town board has selected AES Northeast of Plattsburgh to prepare an engineering plan for the project. AES was the low bidder at $29,501.
Once the engineering plans are complete, the town will seek construction bids.
The town-owned beach and campsite on Lake Champlain is being damaged by Lake Champlain erosion. Without action the public beach and 175-site campground will be lost.
“We’re losing 6 to 10 feet of beach a year,” Scozzafava said. “We’re losing the beach; we’re losing the campground.”
The shoreline has moved back 25 to 40 feet since 1995, according to the Adirondack Park Agency.
Realizing the problem three years ago, local leaders secured permits from the Adirondack Park Agency, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build three revetments made of half-ton rocks reaching into Lake Champlain to combat the erosion. The revetments are 4,080, 4,110 and 4,670 square feet in size, and the beach end of each will be enveloped in landscaped trees and shrubs.
The Bulwagga Bay erosion project is expected to cost $350,000.
Bulwagga Bay generated $302,000 in revenue for the town in 2012, Scozzafava said. The $120,000 profit is being used to off-set 2013 local taxes.
The campsite remains popular. This summer 160 of the 175 sites have been leased for the season.
After the project is finished it will require annual monitoring of erosion and water levels on the beach. The town will be allowed to fill in — or “re-nourish” — areas above the revetments where any erosion takes place.