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Moves Taken To Keep Boats Out Of Power Plant Discharge Area

Undertow, underwater cliff make area dangerous.

is asking the state to take measures in keeping boats away from the GenOn discharge area.

The Avon Lake Safety Committee approved of a resolution that if accepted by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, would prohibit boats from the discharge near the in Miller Road Park.

The location has been the site of several drownings over the years

“People don’t realize the plant discharges 330,000 gallons per minute,” David Owad said. As a result, an underwater channel has formed that isn’t visible to those swimming or wading in the area. Those swimming or wading encounter a steep drop off or a strong undertow.

The area is to the east of the permitted swimming area known as “the cut.” While swimming is allowed in the large open area by the beach, warning signs advise of no swimming by the channel. Still, park visitors and boaters have ventured over, sometimes with lethal results.

“We had a situation recently where a fellow let a young daughter off the boat onto the small peninsula there,” Owad said. Had the girl stepped into the water, the results could have been disastrous.

The city will request from the state that no boaters will be allowed inside the discharge area.

“It’s not our property to decide,” Owad said. “That being the case, it’s up to the state.”

The city will include a resolution in an application for a Federal Navigational Aid Grant. If accepted the state will put up markers.

“It’s not a guarantee it will be done,” Owad said.

The resolution states, “Avon Lake City Council has been aware of and sensitive to the potential hazardous conditions at the water discharge of GenOn Corporation in the City of Avon Lake and its effect on the navigational waters of Lake Erie…the area in question has been identified as the location of prior drownings, accidents and numerous police and fire rescue responses…”

Both Owad and , whose department as well as the Lorain County Dive Team respond when drownings or near drownings occur, have forwarded correspondence to the state.

Swimming area considered safe

Owad said that although the area by the discharge is considered dangerous, the designated swimming area off the beach is considered safe.

“This does not mean the general area is hazardous,” Owad said. “The only area that presents a problem is the discharge area.”

He said boats will still be permitted near the fishing pier near the west end of the park.

lake swimmer June 19, 2012 at 03:22 PM
do we really need to be babysat? Since there are already signs warning of no swimming and dangerous currents, do we really need the government to hold our hand here? I fully support the notification signs, but beyond that, if you're smart enough to run a boat, you're probably smart enough to know the dangers. We can't prevent all accidents. There is no such thing as a hazard free life.
Lori E. Switaj June 19, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Thanks for the comment ramona. It's worth noting that the signs might be ineffective anyway. Yesterday I was down there and two men walked around the "danger" rope and into the plant's channel to fish. Another man jumped over the barbed wire fence, but security at the plant, over the loudspeaker, told him to "get back on your own side of the fence."
Brenda Mayo June 19, 2012 at 06:15 PM
I worked at a state park during the summer for many years and saw first hand that John Q Public isn't very smart. This was seen by Lori. It is a shame that people don't care about keeping themselves and their family safe and ignore the warnings.
Rebecca June 20, 2012 at 02:02 PM
I have recently created a website about "the cut". It can be found at www.thecutavonlake.webs.com. I conduced interviews with city officials and the USCG to gather the information. There have been THREE SWIMMING DEATHS there since the city put the ramp in to the "safe" swim area. It's not just the discharge. I do not want to see the beach close but I do believe that we need to raise community awareness about Lake Erie swim safety. I have proposed to the school that we incorporate the USCG in to our safety programs at school along with the police and fire departments. Let Avon Lake set the standard for the surrounding communities and hopefully we can teach our community how to respect the lake for the massive body of water that it is so that we may continue to enjoy this beach knowing we have done everything we can! Rebecca
Brenda Mayo June 20, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Rebecca is right. I lived near Lake Michigan as a child which has bad undertows. At the end of every year a person from the coast guard came into our class to talk about swimming in the lake and boat and fishing safety. All of us knew what to do if we got caught in an undertow and areas of our beaches not to swim or fish at due to the high dangers. They told us about drowning, importance of wearing the vest while in a boat and more. We were tested at the end of the class to see how much we understood. To this day, I remember the main safety lessons taught to me as a child. I am glad that this safety was part of my schooling.

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