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Blackwell Beach closed to public by “catastrophic’ erosion

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Troy Shantz

One of Sarnia’s popular Lake Huron beaches has been closed to the public after it was literally washed away.

At the foot of Blackwell Side Road, waves have carried away the sand and eaten into the shoreline behind a buckled steel seawall. The stairs down to where the beach used to be are gone and at least one tree is uprooted.

What’s left is an eroding clay bank.

Sarnia construction manager Robert Williams described the loss of one of the few public beaches between Canatara and Bright’s Grove as “catastrophic” after surveying the damage Wednesday

“At this point I don’t know what we’re going to do,” he said. “The wall has failed.”

Water levels in the lakes have risen in recent years and are up another four inches over last year, Williams noted.

He said the city will work with the St. Clair Conservation Authority to determine what can be done, and at what cost.

In the meantime, the area is barricaded and posted as off-limits to the public.

“We’re looking at our options, but the most likely option is using armour stone,” Williams said.

A proposal will be prepared for city council, he added.

“The city engineer did present to council last year on the condition of the shoreline in Bright’s Grove, and the real problem right now is available funding and budget restrictions,” he said, noting parts of The Grove shoreline are similar to Blackwell.

As the Journal reported last October, three different stretches of the aging shoreline infrastructure had to undergo emergency repairs after being hammered by waves.

In one place, the lake ripped out 100 feet of rusty steel wall just east of the Cull Drain and scoured out more than 1,300 cubic meters of ground.

Heavy equipment and crews worked frantically to seal and backfill the breach. Another 180 feet of failing seawall was reinforced with loads of rock on either side of the washout, at a total cost of $225,000.

Williams said he didn’t have a cost estimate to halt the erosion at Blackwell Beach but said, “it won’t be cheap.”

Rising water levels and failing infrastructure are causing the shoreline at Blackwell Beach to erode. Troy Shantz
Rising water levels and failing infrastructure are causing the shoreline at Blackwell Beach to erode.
Troy Shantz

 

 

 

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