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New Niagara Falls radar on the lookout for vessels entering danger zone

On the Niagara River, OPG and its cross-border counterpart the New York Power Authority (NYPA) have invested in a new radar system that keeps an eye out for vessels venturing into dangerous waters near Niagara Falls.

OPG and NYPA have installed a new public safety detection and alerting system on the Niagara River.
OPG and NYPA have installed a new public safety detection and alerting system on the Niagara River.

Developed by Niagara Falls-based Accipiter Radar, the new public safety detection and alerting system has been in use since November 2018 at the International Niagara Control Works (INCW), a 472-metre-long structure in the middle of the Niagara River that diverts water for power generation and the Falls.

Using a steerable high-powered acoustic device equipped with a search light and a high resolution camera, operators at the INCW are now monitoring the river day and night for vessels that inadvertently or deliberately approach restricted or risky areas. Vessels in imminent danger will be confronted with an audible alert to turn back.

The radar is currently tracking watercraft on the Chippawa-Grass Island Pool between the INCW and the North Grand Island Bridge as well as between the INCW and the Horseshoe Falls.

The OPG-operated INCW diverts huge amounts of water on the Niagara River, dispatching it between OPG’s Sir Adam Beck generating stations and NYPA’s Robert Moses Niagara station in accordance with the 1950 Niagara Treaty. As part of this accord, the 18-gate dam also ensures enough water is diverted to Niagara Falls during tourist season.

While this new tool will help ensure the public’s safety, boaters are held responsible for their own navigation safety and must obey all warning signs and buoys, Martelli said.