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High Water Presents Local Problems

Billy Market from the Put-in-Bay Ohio Ferry warned about Put-in-Bay High Water this summer several months ago. Well, what he predicted is coming to fruition. So far, there have been a couple of incidents of high water, which saw docks covered with water, parts of Route 357 flooded, and passengers wading in water as they got on and off the Put in Bay ferry.

Everyone has been talking about how high the water is, but they haven’t seen anything yet. So far, any Lake Erie level surge from storms has not even begun to match the batteries of the past high-water years back in the 1990s and 1970s.

Old-timers remember when water covered the road by the monument on a daily basis, and the lawn between the memorial and the visitors center was a marsh. Put-in-Bay Docks were covered on a daily basis, and storms did lots of erosion damage on the east side of the Lake Erie islands. The high water waves destroyed some cottages. Since then, many property owners have put in shoreline protection to halt the erosion, but sometimes even that fails.

High Water - A picture of high water levels on the Put in Bay Docks.

Much of Burgundy Bay was flooded on Middle Bass Island, and considerable damage to the clubhouse and grounds. The road between the central part of the island and East Point was underwater on a daily basis, and often times it was dangerous to make the drive across the narrow section that connected the two points.

High water is both good and bad for Put-in-Bay Boaters. When the water is high, there is less chance of hitting bottom. That’s good. The bad thing for boaters is that many of the docks are water covered, or the uprights are too low. Considerable damage can be done to the boats during storms.

For visitors to the island, high water events can make for a lot of fun and adventure. During one severe storm, when the water went way up, the Jet Express Ferry had to pick passengers up at South Bass Island State Park dock because it couldn’t reach its downtown dock. It was rainy and blowing, and passengers had to wade through the water to get on board.


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