Have the Niagara falls stopped

When Niagara Falls was drained

Countless coins and two bodies of alleged suicides: when Niagara Falls was drained for the last time, a lot came to light. A look back at 1969 - when the unique sight attracted many tourists

The Niagara Falls live up to their Indian name "thundering water": From up to 52 meters, depending on the season, 2,800 to 5,700 cubic meters of water per second chase over the abrupt edges. That is 154 million liters per minute that flow over the "Horseshoe Falls" alone in the summer. Without human intervention, the amount of water would be almost twice as large. The inflow has been artificially restricted for years. Especially for energy generation. Outside the tourist season and at night, almost 90% of the natural amount of water flows past the cliffs in the direction of a weir. Turbines generate a large amount of electricity there. A push of a button is enough and the onlookers experience the breathtaking natural spectacle again during the day - without noticing anything of the intervention.

But it can be even more extreme: in 1969, a large part of Niagara Falls was actually completely drained for the first time in history. For almost five months, only a trickle splashed over the rock at the American Falls. The effects of erosion, which ensure that large amounts of debris fall into Lake Ontario year after year, have been studied at great expense. But the venture not only revealed a view of the rock mass, it also brought countless coins and two bodies of alleged suicides to light.

Since 2016, it has been discussed whether and when Niagara Falls should be completely shut down for a second time. Because two old bridges urgently need to be repaired. It was planned to close it for the 50th anniversary in 2019. But the draining of Niagara Falls is not exactly cheap, around 30 million dollars were estimated for it. There are also concerns about how the project could affect nature. The ecosystem would be in distress, many fish and amphibians would lose their habitat, at least temporarily, warn environmentalists. Jill Jedlicka, director of Buffalo Niagara River Conservation, told Buffalo News that all long-term and short-term damage should be considered. The top priority is not to cause any damage. Because the area is also important for the species and biotope protection of resident birds.

The consequences for tourism cannot be precisely foreseen either. While the area without water could lose its charm for some, the dry Niagara Falls attracted large numbers of interested pilgrims as early as 1969. For organizational and not least financial reasons, however, the planned deadline for the renewed shutdown in 2019 could not be met in the end.

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