The mouth of Cow Creek is so backed up with sand and silt it’s a hazard to boaters and upstream landowners alike, Bright’s Grove residents say.
One of them, Mark Moran, is asking Sarnia to dredge the outlet, and city council is expected to consider the issue on Oct. 26.
Cow Creek winds through Bright’s Grove before emptying into Lake Huron near St. John-in-the-Wilderness Anglican Church. Dozens of homes back onto the creek, and many residents keep boats in the water for access to the lake.
But the creek’s mouth, which passes under a bridge on Old Lakeshore Road, has clogged up in recent years. The open channel is now about two feet deep and eight feet wide, Moran said.
“People are actually going down and sitting on (the sandbar) with lawn chairs and umbrellas. This problem is not going to get better.”
The buildup could pose a serious drainage issue for upstream landowners if the creek becomes dammed by ice or debris, he said.
Bright’s Grove is no longer a safe harbour in a storm, and boats even on calm days have become stuck, capsized and damaged at the clogged mouth, he added.
“The guys who were fixing (them) were in steady work for months, all summer long.”
Sarnia construction manager Rob Williams said he is familiar with the issue.
A steel and concrete breakwall that extends into the lake to protect the creek entrance was built by Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans, he said.
Ownership was transferred to the city in the 1980s, and no work has been undertaken there since.
Williams said record high Lake Huron water levels could be allowing sand to wash over the steel groyne and accumulate in the channel.
It’s difficult to estimate the scope of the problem, and city staff would need to research it should council ask for a report, he said.
Glenn Dawson, a survey engineer who lives on Cow Creek, has offered to assess the buildup. His company, Monteith & Sutherland, specializes in that type of work, he said.
“It is a dredging project. There’s a lot of material there that should not be there,” he said.
He has hydrographic mapping equipment on his boat, and he tried to use it recently but the water was too rough, he said.
The equipment generates an underwater image similar to a topographic map, which can help determine how much material needs to be removed, he explained.