In this video SOS President Dave McDowell shares some good news (East Breakwall) and some not-so-good news (water level).
After the video was recorded, the US Army Corps of Engineers issued the latest water levels update and a warning:
HIGH AND POTENTIALLY RECORD HIGH WATER LEVELS ARE EXPECTED TO PERSIST FOR AT LEAST THE NEXT SIX MONTHS. FLOOD PRONE AREAS ARE EXPECTED TO REMAIN VULNERABLE.
Lake Ontario water level is 246.13′, which is an inch higher than it was a month ago (supposed to be going down), 16 inches higher than it was last year on November 22nd and 19 inches higher than its long-term average water level for that time of the year. The lake level is expected to drop ONLY 2 INCHES by December 22.
Sarah Delicate from United Shoreline Ontario (USO)shared with us this letter from Mike French, a licensed Professional Engineer:
I’m a resident of the Toronto Islands and have been on the forefront of our battle with high lake levels and flooding. I have written a couple of mitigation reports for the City of Toronto and the Toronto Regional Conservation Authority specifically targeting the Toronto Islands.
Your group might be interested in my most recent report (attached) that forecasts flooding next spring. I have been studying the lake data and have looked at 5 different forecast scenarios through to Dec 2020. Even if we have an average year next year, it looks like we will have more flooding, unless the IJC increases the outflows until Dec.
I’m starting to share this document with other groups and would love any feedback to pick apart or substantiate my findings.
Conclusion: All of the Great Lakes are experiencing higher RNBS due to climate conditions. The combined RNBS contribution to supply in the upper Great Lakes will keep a continuous high inflow into Lake Ontario at least through 2020.
The IJC is following the Plan 2014 regulation for Lake Ontario and have started to reduce outflow through the Moses-Saunders Dam to match the prescribed L-limit flow, but this flow will not drop Lake Ontario enough to compensate for the spring change in supply. If the upper Great Lakes levels were close to their historic average and next spring’s RNBS is somewhat average, then the system L-limits will work, but the current formula fails to take into consideration the flow potential of the upper Great Lakes.
From the Plan 2014 Compendium Document: “The Board may also use the information acquired through the adaptive management strategy to propose to the Commission modifications to the plan should it learn over time that conditions (climatic, socio-economic or environmental) have changed enough such that the plan is no longer meeting its intended objectives or improvements to the plan could realize increased benefits.”
This is a case where the Board must intervene and modify the flow limits to reduce the Lake Ontario levels down to ideally 74.5m before the next cycle begins, otherwise the lake will be faced with another catastrophic flood in spring 2020.
It’s Not Just Weather: Plan 2014 e-learning Series
The following video series provides an excellent description of Plan 2014. It discusses how we got here and how it’s working. It also points out how the River Board and the IJC are not following the plan the way it is written. You will find these videos to be an easy watch and will help to bring some insight and facts into the discussions of high water.
Part 1. This 4 minute video gives a high level overview of the regulation of Lake Ontario, the International Joint Commission, and how outflows are set.
Part 2. This 8 minute episode shows the differences between Plan 1958DD and Plan 2014 while explaining the Higher Highs, the Lower Lows, and the Trigger levels that MUST be reached before they deviate from the plan.
Part 3. What is the The F Limit? Plan 2014 F-Limits are designed to provide “balanced” flooding upstream (Lake Ontario) and downstream (Montreal) of the Moses-Saunders dam, primarily in cases of high Ottawa River flow in Spring. It is responsible for 1.4 feet of the 2019 high water level. This is a technical presentation – please pause and review the graphs as helpful in understanding, as understanding the F-limit is critical.
Part 4. What is the The L Limit and Why is it important? Part 4 of the eLearning Series “It’s not just weather! Understanding Plan 2014” explains the “L-limit”. This is a technical presentation – please pause and review the graphs as helpful in understanding, as understanding the L-limit is critical.
In apparent violation of Plan 2014, the L-Limit provides relief to shipping by reducing the outflow at the dam. As the IJC reduces the outflow to accommodate shipping needs, it holds the lake level high through fall, thereby increasing the risk of severe flooding in the spring. This choice by the IJC appears to be in violation of their own rules, Criterion H14, which states that they must provide ALL possible relief to the RIPARIAN OWNERS upstream and downstream during high water levels.
Part 5. What was Known in Advance. This module explores the damning language of Plan 2014, where shoreline damage and flooding was fully expected and predicted, though grossly underestimated. It also looks at some of the media and government websites that acknowledge the probability of wide spread flooding under the new regulation Plan. Yet, despite knowing this in advance, Municipalities, Emergency Responders, Shoreline Businesses and Residents were NOT informed, putting them in harms way under a new risk paradigm. This risk has born out 2 out of 3 years since the implementation. The social, economic and environmental cost is immeasurable, yet there has been no protections or indemnities.
Part 6. This module focuses on The Treaty of 1909 and the legal framework supporting the implementation of Plan 2014, and questions several apparent violations that injure the riparian homeowner, shoreline municipalities and business owners.
Part 7. Frank Sciremammano’s testimony. In 2017, the New York Senate held a hearing regarding the devastating flooding of 2017, and Frank Sciremammano was called to testify. Frank was the longest serving American member of the IJC board, serving since 1995. Frank was also an original member for the whole lifetime of IJC study group tasked with proposing a new regulation plan for Lake Ontario. Frank was dismissed from the board in 2018. (25 mins)
In order to cause the IJC to REPEAL or MODIFY PLAN 2014, many things need to happen.
THE LEAST WE ALL CAN DO, if we are not happy with the current plan, is to spend a little time and contact our representatives that, in turn, could vote to make the changes or influence the IJC in other ways so that they stop flooding us.
Sodus Point Federal & State Representatives to Contact:
President of Save Our Sodus Dave McDowell discusses pressing issues for SOS:
– Water Level in Lake Ontario and Plan 2014
– East Breakwall separating Lake Ontario from Sodus Bay repair status
– Water quality in Sodus Bay
Prepared by: Kim Lodge, Jordan Pares-Kane, Gregg Sargis; Condensed by Dave Scudder
Background – Sodus Creek East and West
Southern Sodus Wetland of the Lakeshore Marsh Wildlife Management
Area, a 6,179-acre complex, is one of only a few remaining coastal
wetland complexes in the Lake Ontario basin. This wetland provides
significant wildlife habitat, helps mitigate flooding and reduces
nutrient inputs to Sodus Bay, as well as provides numerous
recreational opportunities. The wetlands are critically important
spawning areas for recreationally significant fish species. The
wetlands also remain a regionally important waterfowl and marsh
nesting bird concentration area.
that inhabit these coastal wetlands depend on a diverse system, where
dominant plants such as cattails are interspersed with open water
areas, maintained by natural fluctuations in water levels and the
habitat shaping activities of muskrats and beaver. Restoration
projects in these coastal marsh habitats have been and will continue
to be the focus for enhancing wetland function and condition for a
suite of fish and bird species.
2016, The Nature Conservancy partnered with the New York State
Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC), the Wayne County
Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), Save Our Sodus (SOS),
SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), and the Finger Lakes –
Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (FL-PRISM) to
increase access to critical fish spawning and bird nesting habitat
significantly degraded by cattail dominance. This was accomplished
through the construction of backwater potholes, making stream channel
improvements, and conducting invasive species management and control.
During March of 2018, construction began by using a specialized marsh
sensitive excavator to construct at least 2 acres of backwater
potholes, with deep water portions constructed to prevent the
reestablishment of cattails (Figure 1); 11 out of the 14 proposed
potholes are currently complete.
the summers of 2017 and 2018, response monitoring projects were
carried out to assess the success of the restoration in meeting
project objectives and to compare data before and after construction.
Data collection included fish, bird, and vegetation surveys, water
quality, local culvert assessments to determine their usability for
fish passage, and mapping the sizes of each constructed pothole.
the end, over 115 acres of coastal wetlands were estimated to be
restored and enhanced, by reconnecting access from the bay to spring
fish spawning sites, and nesting and feeding areas for waterfowl and
marsh nesting birds.
In 2018, we conducted an assessment of 13 culverts within the Sodus Bay watershed following protocol provided by the Great Lakes Road Stream Crossing Inventory, which included gathering data on culvert type, length, height, etc. In terms of accessibility, as fish are attempting to travel upstream, culverts should not be raised more than 1 ft in height. At some locations, we found that the outlet flowed over a waterfall or raised culvert so fish may not be able to make it to upstream breeding areas.
Invasive Species Removal:
main invasive species of focus was the water chestnut, a rooted
submerged aquatic plant, which grows quickly, forms dense mats, and
outcompetes native species. Water chestnut impedes boat travel and
recreation activity, and prevents sunlight from reaching other
aquatic vegetation. As part of our partnership with NYS DEC, SWCD,
and FL-PRISM, we organized a number of volunteer events throughout
the summers of 2017 and 2018 to remove water chestnut from the
Southern Sodus Bay marsh area.
majority of the pike caught in 2018 was in the In Between pothole.
This pothole had a number of small pockets along the cattail borders
which may have provided good spaces for pike to lay their eggs in a
slightly protected area. This may be good to note for future pothole
construction or amending other existing areas; cutting out small
portions of cattail benefit pike during spawning.
pike are moderate to weak swimmers, it is important to note that the
culverts we investigated that are connected to Sodus Bay, East Bay,
and Port Bay appear to have sufficient water depths and low flow
velocities necessary for pike passage through them.
efforts to remove and control water chestnut is also an important
project to continue. It may be beneficial to start organizing pulls
in both June and July, because by the end of July the plants were
already fully mature and their seeds released.
Looking forward, we intend to complete the original wetland design by completing potholes 11 and 12 and adding 4 new potholes . We are also working with the NYS DEC to construct additional potholes northeast of the wetland area, across from Le Roy Island. See the graphic below.
If you live or have business around Sodus Bay, on the waterfront OR NOT, we know that you understand the importance of having our beautiful Sodus Bay clean, free of harmful invaders, be it fish, vegetation, and even some human visitors. Your your ability to enjoy the bay and the property and business values around the bay are directly affected by the conditions of the bay.
We also know that you do try to do your best to keep the Bay clean and your property protected in a way that doesn’t damage the bay.
This Sodus Bay Waterfront Owners’ Guide was put together to remind you of different practices, some are obvious, others aren’t, that you can do to keep our Bay clean, and the shorelines protected.
Please download it to your device, read, and apply the recommendations. If you think of someone else that might benefit of the suggestions in this guide, please share.
Thank you so much for doing your part.
Small hinges swing big doors.
Small efforts by everyone around the Bay make a Big Difference!
Please click on the image below to download the guide:
Another composition of the Sodus Outer Light, this time about half way out on the frozen pier. I don’t know which I like more between this one and the one I posted earlier.
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