What You Need to Know About the De-Watering of Niagara Falls

There has been a lot of buzz over the last 48-hours about Niagara Falls “going dry.”

While we are extremely excited about this once-in-a-century event to take place, we know that people have a lot of questions. Here is everything you need to know about this extraordinary occurrence. (Image Credit: Niagara Falls Public Library)

Q: Why are they turning the Falls off?

The Niagara Falls State Park has to replace two 115-year old stone arch pedestrian bridges that lead to Goat Island. The original concrete arch bridges were closed in 2004 and temporary truss bridges were put in to provide safe passage. The temporary bridges restrict views of the rapids and are aesthetically unappealing, so it is time to focus the efforts on permanent replacement.

Q: I heard that this happened before. Is that true?

Yes. In June 1969, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers diverted water away from the American Falls for approximately five months to study the effects of erosion.

Q: How are they going to "turn off" the water?

The water isn't literally going to be turned off. Approximately 85 percent of the water in the Niagara River flows over the Horseshoe Falls and the remaining 15 percent flows over the American Falls. A cofferdam would be installed to stop the flow to the American Falls and re-direct that flow to the Horseshoe Falls.

Q: That sounds like a lot of work. How long will it take?

There are currently two possible scenarios being considered by New York State. One proposal would divert water for five months, from August through December. The second proposal would divert water for nine months, April through December.

Q: When is this going to take place?

New York State first needs to secure the funding (approximately $26 million) which could take several years. From the time funding is secured, it will take approximately two years for design and planning. We will continue to provide updates whenever additional information becomes available. 

Q: If I have a visit planned to Niagara Falls during the time that the Fall is "off," will I still be able to ride the Maid of the Mist boat?

Absolutely! Because the Horseshoe Falls will continue to flow (15 percent stronger in fact), it will allow the iconic  to continue their exciting adventure, while also passing the de-watered American Falls along the way. You will get an up-close view of this once-in-a-century marvel!

About the Author
Andrea Czopp

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