LAKE COUNTY, Ohio — A lack of ice cover on Lake Erie this winter means worse erosion along the shoreline. Erosion and high water levels are threatening beaches and homeowners who live along the lake.

  • Due to a relatively warm winter, there has been virtually no ice
  • Ice acts as a natural form of shore protection, locking in water levels
  • Concerns about property loss and disappearing beaches is growing

"We've lost a lot of land and the high water levels caused a lot of erosion," said Mento homeowner, Dennis Mastrangelo. "I'd like to be able to get the water levels down so we can have a beach again."

Mastrangelo has owned his lakefront home for five years. This past summer, he lost 40 feet of his land due to erosion. It cost him a lot of money to install a retaining wall to protect against further property loss.

"It's four to five-ton limestone rocks piled on top of each other at an angle and that's supposed to stop any more erosion," said Mastrangelo.

Lake Metroparks, in Lake County, is dealing with similar problems. It has five parks along the lake and some are already seeing major damage.

"Just last week, we lost a section of erosion wall that we put in as recently as last November. We put 42 tons of stone over a very small area that was only 40 feet long and we lost all of it to two storms," said Paul Palagyi, executive director, Lake Metroparks.

Due to a relatively warm winter and no ice to lock in the water levels, the concern for more property loss and disappearing beaches is growing. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says water levels are near record highs and come Spring, water levels are expected to rise even more.

"During the winter months we like to have some ice cover, that shore fast ice is there, what happens is sort of like a natural form of shore protection and so as the waves come into shore they actually break and are absorbed by the ice, so it actually protects the shoreline during winter months from erosion," said Dr. Scudder Mackey, Ohio Department of Natural Resources. "If you had beaches, those beaches will be underwater, they'll be inundated."

The DNR says erosion is more common on the eastern part of the state in Lake and Asthabula Counties. The coastline there is made of cohesive clays and are easily erodible.

The DNR offers temporary shore structure permits — an emergency permit to help prevent erosion.

"We're looking at it day by day and storm by storm, we're just adapting, we're not gonna try to fight the lake," said Palagyi. "We've seen the lake cycles go up and down, but I'm confident that after a couple more years they will take their normal slide back down, but for the time being it's a little tough for people living along the lake."