Tower Island

Niagara Falls USA Island

In 1922, the International Board of Control suggested building an artificial island, upstream from the Falls, to divert the waters.

On June 2nd 1929, both Governments signed an agreement for the proposed recommendations made by the International Board of Control. This agreement was authorized by Canada in 1929 and by the United States of America in 1931.

In 1941, The Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Basin Agreement was signed by Government representatives but it was never authorized. In this agreement, the corrective work was approved, as well as an immediate diversion of an additional 5,000 cubic feet of water per second by each country for power generation.

On October 27th 1941, as an emergency measure during World War II, the governments of USA and Canada authorized the maximum diversion of waters from the Niagara River for power generation. The Americans were to divert 32,500 cubic feet of water per second and the Canadians were to divert 50,000 cubic feet of water per second. Both governments recognized the need for recommended corrective work and agreed to share the costs.

Construction of the submerged barrier began in March 1942. When completed, the barrier was 1,455 feet long, extending within 300 feet of the Canadian shoreline to the shoal upstream from Goat Island. The width of this rock filled barrier was approximately 40 feet and the height varied according to the river from 2 – 10 feet in depth.

To place the stone in the river, a cable way was constructed. Two 155 foot tall steel towers were built: one on the Canadian shoreline and the other on a man made island just inside the American boundary.

This island is known as “Tower Island” and it still exists today as a terminus for the Hydro Control Dam. To build this island, the US Army Corps of Engineers built a 2,200 foot causeway from the eastern end of Goat Island.

Ongoing government negotiations through 1949 resulted in the signing by both the American and Canadian Governments of the Niagara Water Diversion Treaty in February 1950. The treaty allowed Canada to divert 56,500 cubic feet of water per second and the allowed the USA to divert 32,500 cubic feet of water per second. Most importantly, this treaty declared that all the water in the river could be used for hydro generation. This provided that there was sufficient water to flow over the Falls in order to maintain its beauty.

In October 1950, the International Joint Committee was authorized to study and report on remedial work required for the preservation of the Falls. Their recommendations were approved July 22nd 1953.

During the following years, a 1,550 long Hydro Control Dam was built 250 feet downstream from the submerged barrier. The dam extended from the Canadian shoreline and was needed to regulate the water level in the Chippawa – Grass Island Pool.

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