The Nature Conservancy

Prepared by: Kim Lodge, Jordan Pares-Kane, Gregg Sargis; Condensed by Dave Scudder

Background – Sodus Creek East and West

The
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.

Wildlife
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.

In
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.

In
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.

In
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.


Figure 1:
Southern Sodus backwater pothole design

Culvert Assessment:

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:

The
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.


Water chestnut image from thebeatnews.org

Observations/Lessons Learned

The
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.

Since
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.

The
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.


Possible locations for new potholes in the southern marsh.

 

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:

Sodus Bay Waterfront Owners Guide

What’s the status of Breakwall repair? Will we be flooded in 2018? What’s going on on the South end of the Bay?

Watch the video below where SOS President Dave McDowell answers all of those questions.

Sodus Bay East Breakwall Damage – Photo Gallery

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In this video President of Save Our Sodus Dave McDowell summarizes SOS’ activities, accomplishments, and challenges that require attention, and effort.

Our Accomplishments and Challenges Summary

  • The number of Save Our Sodus donors has grown

    Thank you to all our supporters! Your financial support allows us to do more to keep Sodus Bay clean and the waters from rising (that last part is a forward-looking statement)

  • Progress on a Wetland Restoration joint project with the Nature Conservancy

    Progress on a joint project with the Nature Conservancy to restore the wetland in Sodus Creek. The Planning and the Permitting for that project is now complete. We expect the construction schedule to be announced later this fall.

  • The Army Corps of Engineers confirmed the plans to dredge the Channel in September of 2018

  • Crescent Beach to be nourished with the spoils from dredging Sodus Bay Channel

    Save Our Sodus successfully advocated to use the spoils from dredging Sodus Bay Channel to be placed along Crescent Beach

  • SOS continued to participate in the CSLAP

    SOS continued to participate in the Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program and collected water samples in Sodus Bay to monitor water quality. The samples were collected from several locations around the Bay every week. Results were shared with our supporters on our site and through social media. All equipment has been operational.

  • Blue-Green Algae monitoring was conducted as well

    Blue-Green Algae monitoring was conducted as well, and SOS was happy to report that most of the weeks the level of toxic blue-green algae blooms was non-detect. A couple of weeks when we had low levels of blooms near some tributaries, we alerted residents on steps to prevent getting poisoned.

  • Conducted E-Coli testing twice

    We conducted E-Coli testing since the danger was higher of E-Coli bacteria growth from some not-fully-treated sewage due to the flood in the spring.

  • No progress on Chales Point/Crescent Beach Breach repair

Updated September 15, 2017

Three ingredients necessary for the blue-green algae blooms:

  • Nitrogen and Phosphorous flowing into Lake and the Bay

    We got plenty of it flushed from the flooded lawns, in addition to the rain-caused run-offs

  • Lots of Sun and Heat

    We had some, but as the summer is “still young”, and we will be getting lots of both

  • Lack of Wind

    The jury is out on that one, but the No Wake zone in the bay prevents the water from being stirred by boaters (and disrupting the algae growth)

Greg Boyer, a biochemistry professor at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, and his team have been monitoring water quality in Sodus Bay for a few years. This recent report card gives you a quick summary of state of Blue-Green Algae on Sodus Bay.

We will be sharing the new reports as they become available.

Blue-green algal toxins level in Sodus Bay is back to NON-DETECT

A couple of reasons Blue-Green Algal Toxins are down. One is the windy weather we had recently, which allowed to stir up the bay,  and the second –  the temperature was below 80F, for the most part.

September 13th, 2017 Report Summary

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August 18th, 2017 Report Summary

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Blue-green algal toxins level in Sodus Bay now registers at a LOW level, UP from non-detect.

August 11th, 2017 Report Summary

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What Can You Do To Reduce Algal Blooms?

Even though a lot of measures were taken over the years to reduce the flow of nutrients from farmlands to Sodus Bay watershed, the higher-than-normal rainfall in the spring and early summer of 2017 washed a lot of nutrients from the lawns and farms into the Bay, making it conducive to algal blooms.

Blue-green algal toxins level in Sodus Bay now registers at a LOW level, UP from non-detect.

The situation is always worse around the tributaries and in stagnant places around the bay.

If you or your business is on the waterfront, installing and continuously running a submerged aeration systems (bubblers) helps prevent accumulation of nutrients that could lead to excessive algae growth.

Aerators increase diffused oxygen in the water, which in turn supports and encourages the growth of beneficial aerobic bacteria. This beneficial bacteria break down organic matter and consume excess nutrients and that helps to balance and improve water quality and reduce algae blooms. The benefits of aeration are higher at night, so running your aeration continuously is highly recommended.

The benefits of aeration are higher at night, so running your aeration continuously is highly recommended.

Important Things to Know sbout Harmful Algal Blooms

  • If you see it – avoid it and report it!
  • People, pets, and livestock should avoid contact with water that is discolored or has algae scums on the surface. Colors can include shades of green, blue-green, yellow, brown or red. If contact does occur, rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove algae.
  • Never drink untreated surface water, whether or not algae blooms are present. Untreated surface water may contain other bacteria, parasites or viruses, as well as cyanotoxins that could cause illness if consumed.
  • People not on public water supplies should not drink surface water during an algal bloom, even if it is treated, because in-home treatments such as boiling, disinfecting water with chlorine or ultraviolet (UV), and water filtration units do not protect people from HABs toxins.
  • Stop using water and seek medical attention immediately if symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, skin, eye or throat irritation, allergic reactions or breathing difficulties occur after drinking or having contact with blooms or untreated surface water.
  • Please report any health symptoms to your physician and NYS Department of Health at harmfulalgae@health.ny.gov orWayne County Health Department contact person (as listed on the DEC site, not verified by SOS) is Diane M. Devlin,(315) 946-5749 ddevlin@co.wayne.ny.us Wayne County Public Health Service 1519 Nye Road, Suite 200 Lyons, NY 14489
  • For answers to other frequently asked questions go to the DEC HABs FAQ page.
  • If you suspect that you have seen a HAB or you, your family, or pet has been in contact with a bloom, please report the bloom to the DEC. Fill out and submit a Suspicious Algal Bloom Report
  • Form (PDF, 764 KB). Email the completed form and, if possible, attach digital photos (close-up and landscape to show extent and location) of the suspected bloom to HABsInfo@dec.ny.gov.

The Good News – We aren’t on the DEC Harmful Algal Blooms list as of 8.7.2017

The Good News – We aren’t on a Harmful Algal Blooms list yet.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (the DEC) keeps a list of water bodies that have registered Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). Sodus Bay is not on that list.

Wayne County Health Department contact person (as listed on the DEC site, not verified by SOS) is Diane M. Devlin,

(315) 946-5749 ddevlin@co.wayne.ny.us Wayne County Public Health Service 1519 Nye Road, Suite 200 Lyons, NY 14489

August 2nd, 2017 Report Summary

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July 19th, 2017 Report Summary

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July 6th, 2017 Report Summary

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June 15th, 2017 Report Summary

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Blue-green algae in Sodus Bay as of 6-15-2017

WHY do we need to remove Water Chestnuts from Sodus Bay?

Water chestnuts are one of the invasive species on Sodus Bay. They grow rapidly and can out-compete native aquatic vegetation. When they are allowed to grow, they can form impenetrable floating mats of vegetation.  These mats not only create a hazard for boaters but also can severely limit light penetration into the water and reduce or eliminate the growth of native aquatic plants beneath the canopy. The reduced plant growth combined with the decomposition of the water chestnut plants (which die back each year) can result in reduced levels of dissolved oxygen in the water, impact other aquatic organisms, and potentially lead to fish kills.

What has been done to curb Water Chestnuts growth in Sodus Bay?

Since 2012 (and before) Wayne County Soil and Water District, the Finger Lakes Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM), Save Our Sodus and other organizations have been pulling available resources (harvesters and operators), as well as canoe and kayak crews and volunteers for hand-pull harvesting of Water Chestnuts. That approach led to noticeable improvements and a noticeable reduction of Water Chestnuts in the Bay.

Usually, harvesting took place in late July – early August. Last year volunteers participated in 2 harvesting operations on July 23 and July 30th around Emerald Point of the Second Creek, Clark Creek and South of the Bay Bridge.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Volunteers Hank and Mary Stuart unloaded a pile of water chestnuts to a seaweed harvesting machine near Second Creek. July 23, 2016.

What has been done this year?

This year’s flood affected the annual water-chestnut cleanup efforts, but some work was done in spite of the challenges.

The highest water chestnuts concentration in Sodus Bay is on the South side of Sodus Bay Bridge.

That’s where most of the cleanup work has been performed in August of 2017 in order to reduce the generational invasion further into Sodus Bay.
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s (NYSDEC) Division of Habitat and Regional Permits have been working with the Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District on a European Water Chestnut Management plan for this area of the Lake Shore Marshes. The plan includes invasive species control, fisheries monitoring and wetland habitat creation.
The entire area is not being clear cut. The areas that are along the reed land areas do not have concentration and are being left natural. NYSDEC has inspected the work. The District has been inspecting and documenting the plant matter of the collected loads.

Click on the image to enlarge

It is a unique process that is designed to reduce the amount of water chestnuts and the seed bank in the Bay.
It will take years to implement the variety of approaches outlined in the process, but we expect to see a positive impact on the environment, oxygen levels in the water and overall water quality.
The unusual water levels have given us the opportunity to try out this new process. It will help us better understand what is needed to be able to continue this harvesting approach for a short specific period each year.
By the end of September, a more detailed report explaining what was managed and accomplished will be prepared by the Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Invasive Species that THREATEN Sodus Bay

SOS Dave Scudder attends a meeting with Senator Pamela Helming at the Finger Lakes Regional Watershed Alliance in Geneva, NY.

Image and story credit Finger Lakes Daily News Greg Cotterill

Senator Pamela A. Helming (R,C,I-Canandaigua) stands with members of the Finger Lakes Regional Watershed Alliance following the group’s Monday, July 17, 2017 meeting at the Finger Lakes Institute in Geneva. As well as listening to reports about the efforts of the FLRWA and its individual lake associations around the Finger Lakes region, Senator Helming had the opportunity to address the work that she is doing to protect bodies of water and drinking water sources around the region.

The Finger Lakes Regional Watershed Alliance (FLRWA) represents the interests and concerns of residents around nine of New York State’s Finger Lakes, with member organizations from Honeoye, Seneca, Otisco, Canandaigua, Conesus, Keuka, Cayuga, Owasco, and Skaneateles lakes. Save Our Sodus, the New York State Federation of Lake Associations, the City of Rochester’s Water and Lighting Bureau, Cornell Cooperative Extension Yates County, and the Finger Lakes Institute are Partners of FLRWA and do not have a vote in its decisions.

SOS representatives attend many educational events hosted by FLRWA, enjoy access to academic and other resources of the Alliance and coordinate interactions with politicians when the joint effort is beneficial to both organizations and its constituents.

The worst of the Flood of 2017 is over for Sodus Bay and its community. The residents and businesses still have a lot of issues to deal with. Save Our Sodus’ President Dave McDowell, a local resident, answers some of the frequently asked questions in the videos below.

“When is the water going to go down in Sodus Bay?”

“Are we going to have a blue-green algae bloom this year?”

“When is Idle Only restriction on Sodus Bay will be removed?”