MENTOR, Ohio — The high water woes for Lake Erie property owners and boaters will likely continue with large waves and even more rain on the way this weekend. For the boaters and tenants at Mentor Lagoon Marina, it is all hands on deck as the water continues to overtake dozens of docks.
Normally four to five feet deep, Mentor Lagoon is nearly 10 feet deep in some places. Dozens of docks, which are built and maintained by boaters who rent the space from the marina, are either partially or completely submerged. Many boaters believe the water is the highest it has ever been.
“It’s never been like this. It’s come up periodically a little bit but nothing like this, nothing at all,” said Bob Franco.
Like a lot of dock owners, Franco wasn’t on his boat Friday afternoon. Instead, he was trying to protect it. One by one, Franco carried large pallets from his pickup truck to his dock, double-decking a pallet walkway from the road to his dock. Large pools of standing water flanked each side of the makeshift path. Franco believes he’s one of the lucky ones.
“Some of them are worse than mine. Some of them are totally underwater,” Franco said. “I’m about half-way. I’m a little bit lucky there. At least it’s not gone.”
Scott Robins, the manager of the marina, said the water is as high as he has seen in his four years at the helm. The large, choppy waves crashing ashore at nearby Lake Erie have brought large ponds of water across the road, eventually settling in low spots near the docks. Earlier this week, more than 70 docks were completely submerged, Robins said. A submerged dock is problematic because, eventually, the water will erode away at the support structure underneath, compromising the dock’s structural integrity. Some of the docks were lifted completely off their foundation and destroyed, Robins said.
“It’s breaching the concrete walls that are there. We have multiple docks that are physically underwater. For those docks that are not underwater, it’s come under the dock and onto the land. Everybody is fighting it. They’re just trying to survive through the beginning of the summer,” Robins said. “Right now it’s nature and nature is beating us a little bit.”
The docks aren’t the only concern. Buoyed by the highest water level the lake has been at in decades, the waves coming ashore have continued to eat away at the bluffs and beach overlooking the shoreline. The hundreds of yards of beachfront, at this point, ceases to exist. A half-dozen acres of shoreline have been lost in the past decade, officials said. The trees that Robins once used to measure how much shoreline has been lost have also fallen into the lake.
Robins said the continued loss of the shoreline could have disastrous consequences because it serves as a barrier between the wetlands and marina.
“There used to be a beach all the way to the point out there. It’s just banging away across the shoreline. It’s a huge and important thing for us to save and maintain what we have in here,” Robins said. “If we lose it, it is concerning because we would lose all of Dock A. All of Dock A would be underwater.”
The City of Mentor has already allocated nearly $1 million to extend the stone revetment another 600 feet in hope it will deter further erosion. Because the project is still going through the permitting process, construction isn’t expected to begin until 2020.
“I just hope it doesn’t get this much worse again next year. Hopefully it will recede and go back to normal,” Franco said. “Until then we’ll have to be creative and put pallets down so we can at least get to the boat. That’s all we can do.”