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)

The Good News – So Far

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.

June 15th, 2017 Report Summary

Please click on the image to open a PDF file in a new window.

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

July 6th, 2017 Report Summary

Please click on the image to open a PDF file in a copynew window.

Blue-Green Algae can cause a lot of harm and grows particularly well during hot summers like the one we had in Upstate New York this year. Many lakes in the area have reported problems with blue-green algae this summer.

So far this year Sodus Bay has been spared blue-green algae toxic blooms. 

We continue to have the benefit of weekly reports from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) team that indicate that bloom activity has been minimal this season.  Given this, we thought it might be a good idea to sit down with Dr. Greg Boyer who supervises Sodus Bay Water Quality Monitoring Team from ESF, to get his perspective on what’s happening in the bay.

Interview with Dr. Greg Boyer

Have we had any blue-green algae blooms this year?

Dr. Boyer:

Our ESF team has continued weekly sampling and analysis of results since early June of this year.  So far, the results have been generally very positive.  While there have been a couple of small BGA blooms in late July, they were brief in duration and toxicity was undetectable or at minimal levels.

Did these algae blooms represent a health risk?

Dr. Boyer:

As always, blue green algae may pose a risk from compounds other than the measured toxins and therefore all blooms should be avoided.  However, the small size and short duration of the blooms detected this season would not be considered a serious concern.

Many other lakes around the area are experiencing BGA bloom activity – – – why does our experience appear to be better?

Dr. Boyer:

This is difficult to answer.  Over many years of sampling and testing it is fair to say that phosphorus levels in the bay have remained generally consistent and in sufficient levels necessary to support bloom activity. 

What has declined over recent years is the level of chlorophyll, an indicator of algae presence.  Also, toxicity has declined to virtually undetectable levels over the last two years of measurement.  While these are very positive indicators, it doesn’t rule out the possibility of the recurrence of serious BGA bloom activity. 

We are dealing with a multiplicity of variables involved in the creation of a bloom, almost all of which are uncontrollable, it is therefore extremely difficult to predict or prevent the occurrence.

Does this mean we are totally at the mercy of Mother Nature and we are unable to affect the conditions?

Dr. Boyer:

No, that would be the wrong conclusion.  In fact, over the years there have been multiple projects under the direction of the Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District to improve tributary stream banks that reduces the amount of sediment contribution. 

Also, there are an increasing number of farm operations employing best practice techniques to reduce nutrient loading.  In addition, the marinas and retail businesses around the bay are using bubblers as a means of maintaining water flow to lessen the bloom conditions. 

We know these actions are helpful and are reducing the opportunity for bloom activity.  We just can’t quantify in precise terms the direct effect of the actions.

Is there any study being done to improve our understanding of prediction and /or prevention?

Dr. Boyer:

Yes, in fact an hydrological model has been developed by Joe Atkinson at SUNY Buffalo that we are now experimenting with. 

For example,  we can “ask” the model questions like:  “If we reduce the loading from our tributaries by 25%, what is the resulting level of Phosphorus in the water column; in the bottom sediment? ” 

While these are theoretical questions, they help us understand the relationship of the variables in the bloom equation.  We are currently in the process of applying and testing the model against actual conditions at the time of high bloom activity.

Fortunately, the many years of data collection and observation have given us the capability to develop the model. I believe it will become a very effective tool for the future.

What can we expect for the rest of this season?

Dr. Boyer:

Hopefully the positive indicators we are seeing will continue. 

But, as I’ve already discussed, prediction is a risky business.  Certainly we have had one of the hottest summers on record that would normally be a big factor in bloom formation.  This may have been offset by wind conditions that keep the water moving.

The best thing for the watershed community to do is keep its attention on best practices for nutrient management.  In the end, phosphorus levels are what the community can have a direct impact on.

Please Come and Join The Party!

Save Our Sodus Invites You to Sodus Bay Water Quality Work Party and Expo on September 17th.

September 17  from 8.30 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Sodus Point County Park (The Beach)

Beach Cleanup – 8-30 till 10-30 am.

Expo – 8-30 till 11-30 a.m.

Celebration and Lunch 11-30 to 1 p.m.

The Food (FREE TO THE PARTICIPANTS!) will be: Pulled Pork, Cole Slaw, Baked Beans, Mac Salad, Salt Potatoes, Soda and water.

Water Quality Celebration and Beach Clean Up on Sodus Bay

Watch Dr. Boyer, Director of the Great Lakes Research Answer Our Questions

Water Quality of Sodus Bay, as of August, 2016

Sodus Bay Water Quality Monitoring Buoys

How Much do Sodus Bay Water Quality Monitoring Buoys Cost?

Vandalized Buoy in Sodus Bay

Hot, dry summers, like the one we are having here in the Upstate New York, often come with toxic blue-green algae blooms.

Dr. Greg Boyer from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) and his team monitor water quality of Sodus Bay weekly. Here’s what he shared with us during his resent sample collection around the bay.

Attention Sodus Bay residents and guests:

A very slight toxic bloom near the shore of Oak Park Marina was recorded last week.

As a precaution it is recommended that people and pets avoid contact with visible algae.

Please click on a link to open a report prepared by SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Sodus Bay Blue-Green-Algae Report 07.29.16  (a pdf file)

If you would like to request a visual and blue-green algae toxin analysis at SUNY ESF you can submit a sample with a filled-out request form.

Click to download Request Form

Data Collection Instruments in the Bay

Save Our Sodus (SOS) has purchased data collection instruments that monitor the water quality of the Bay. The data can provide us and our partners at SUNY ESF with information that we can possibly predict when blue/green algae might appear. If you are out in the Bay you will see the monitoring instruments at various locations on the Bay.

The blooms appear when the organism multiplies very rapidly over a short period of time, usually in calm, warm water.

Blue-green algae is concerning because has toxins when there is a high level of algae in the water. Contact with it may result in side effects including itching, rashes, fever, headache, upper respiratory symptoms, vomiting and diarrhea.

People are advised to not drink or use the lake water for cooking; any swimming, wading or other forms of direct contact with water containing blue-green algae should be avoided. Pets should also be kept away from the water.

DONATE TODAY

We Need Your Support

SOS relies solely on donations from stakeholders in the effort to Preserve, Protect and Improve Great Sodus Bay. Please join us in making Sodus Bay the Great Bay that it is – DONATE!

READ Sodus Bay Algal Bloom Q & A prepared by Wayne County Emergency Management Office

CLICK to read Q&A Document

Have you seen buoys around Sodus Bay? They help predict toxic algae blooms. SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) monitors water quality of the Bay. Watch this video to learn more.


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A crisp, clear spring morning when sunlight sparkles off the water might seem like an odd time to think about toxic algal blooms that coat the water in a thick blue-green film, but it’s precisely when researchers start water monitoring.

Toxic blue-green algal blooms in the northeastern United States typically form during the hot days of August. By keeping an eye on the water chemistry throughout the summer, researchers might be able to predict when a potential bloom is coming.

Michael Satchwell, senior research support specialist at ESF, and undergraduate Matt Blake deployed three buoys in Sodus Bay in early May to monitor water conditions in the bay. The solar-powered buoys measure the basic water chemistry, including temperature, pH, conductivity and dissolved oxygen levels, chlorophyll and phycocyanin, a pigment specific to blue-green algae. The central buoy houses a complete weather station and also records water levels. This data is being used to produce models of water movement within the bay.

“If we see a spike in phycocyanin levels we know a potential bloom may be coming,” said Satchwell. Data from the buoys is transmitted in near-real time to the Great Lakes Research Consortium’s website where anyone can access the data. It is also being used by researchers at the University of Buffalo to build a better predictive model for the occurrence of harmful algal blooms.

“If we get them (blue-green algal blooms), we get them typically in the late summer,” said Ed Leroux, a resident of Sodus Bay who assists the ESF team.

The bay experienced a major bloom in 2010 that shut down businesses two weeks before Labor Day, delivering a blow to the popular tourist area. “No one was in the water, no one was in the restaurants,” Leroux said. “It woke the community up. We had to find out why it happened and how it happened because it had a serious economic impact on the community.”

Blue-green algae blooms, or cyanobacteria, can be harmful to humans and fatal to pets. Exposure to the algae can result in diarrhea, nausea or vomiting; skin, eye or throat irritation; and allergic reactions or breathing difficulties.

Save Our Sodus, a group dedicated to addressing challenges to the quality of Sodus Bay, asked Dr. Greg Boyer of the ESF Department of Chemistry to look into the matter. Boyer, director of the Great Lakes Research Consortium and member of Save Our Sodus, has studied algal blooms in numerous water bodies in the Northeast and China for more than three decades.

Boyer began random water sampling in the bay in 2011 and has been collecting data, sometimes on a weekly basis every since. This information forms the basis of a weekly report that appears on the Save our Sodus website to inform the general public about conditions on the bay. The buoys were installed in 2011 to automate the process with funding from a number of sources, including a grant with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the Great Lakes Restoration initiative, New York Sea Grant and funding from the Great Lakes Observing System.

“To date, data shows chlorophyll has dropped off while phosphorus levels vary up and down, and toxicity is down; but that doesn’t necessarily mean things are getting better. Phosphorus levels have to be in check and we have to be able to predict the toxicity levels,” said Boyer.

Blooms are known to form in tight corners and areas with little water circulation, such as marinas, so the town installed blowers – normally used to keep ice from forming – to help keep the water moving in the summer, Leroux said.

So far, researchers have not identified a “smoking gun” that identifies what precisely triggers the toxic blooms. However work with the University of Buffalo strongly suggests that water movement in and out of the bay may be an important contributor.

Fortunately for the merchants and tourists in Sodus Bay, algal blooms have not been troublesome over the last few years. “There hasn’t been a significant bloom since 2010,” noted Satchwell.
“If you keep studying it, it won’t come back,” Leroux said, somewhat tongue in cheek. “So we’re going to study it to death.”

~~~~~~~ The story first appeared at http://www.esf.edu/communications/view.asp?newsID=5361 ~~~~~~~~~~

DEC Seeks Help from Anglers in Preventing Spread

The invasive algae didymo (Didymosphenia geminata) was recently confirmed in Clear Creek, a popular trout fishing stream in Cattaraugus and Wyoming counties, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) reported today.

“This is the first documented finding of this aquatic nuisance species west of the Catskills in New York State,” said DEC Region 9 Director Abby Snyder. “Clear Creek is one of our region’s most popular wild brown and rainbow trout streams. Given its connectivity to Cattaraugus Creek and proximity to other nearby trout streams, we ask anglers to be especially vigilant in helping to prevent this species from spreading.”

Samples taken and examined by DEC recently confirmed the algae’s presence in Clear Creek at Jones Road in the Cattaraugus County portion of the steam. The finding was confirmed after a concerned angler contacted DEC with a potential sighting.

Didymo, also known as “rock snot,” can produce large amounts of stalk material that form thick mats on stream bottoms. During blooms, these mats may completely cover long stretches of stream beds. Its growth can alter stream conditions, choking out many of the organisms that live on the stream bottom. The resulting disturbance to the stream’s food chain can negatively impact trout and other fish populations.

Once introduced to an area, didymo can rapidly spread to nearby streams. Wading anglers and other water recreationalists such as kayakers, canoeists, boaters and jet skiers can easily and unknowingly spread didymo by transporting the cells on boats and other gear, especially if moving from one waterway to another in a single day.

DEC strongly encourages all anglers and boaters in the region to play a role in preventing the spread of didymo by following the precautions below:

  • Check

    Before leaving a river or stream, remove all obvious clumps of algae and look for hidden clumps. Leave them at the affected site. If you find any later, do not wash them down drains; dispose all material in the trash.

  • Clean

    Treatment varies depending on what needs to be cleaned. Be sure that the solution completely penetrates thick absorbent items such as felt-soled waders and wading boots. Felt-soles, due to their ability to absorb didymo cells and to stay damp for prolonged periods of time, are a major vector in spreading didymo and require special treatment (prolonged soaking in disinfectant).

  • Dry

    If cleaning is not practical, after the item is completely dry to the touch, wait an additional 48 hours before contact or use in any other waterway. Check thick, absorbent items closely to assure that they are dry throughout. Equipment and gear can also be placed in a freezer until all moisture is frozen solid. NOTE: If cleaning, drying or freezing is not practical, restrict equipment to a single water body.

DEC Fisheries staff will monitor Clear Creek and nearby waterways throughout the summer to check for the spread of this algae, and encourages anglers to report any potential didymo sightings and locations. For more information on didymo, visit DEC’s website.

At the end of June, 2016 blue-green algae was spotted at the south end of Conesus Lake, according to the Livingston County Department of Health.

Blooms of potentially toxic blue-green algae are continuing to pop up along the eastern shore of Conesus Lake.

The Livingston County Department of Health warned  that algal blooms, possibly accompanied by harmful toxins, have been observed at various locations on the eastern shore of the lake, located about 20 miles south of Rochester.

Since then the problem has spread, with blooms appearing and dying off in a number of spots.

End of June is earlier than normal for blue/green algae bloom in our region.

With warm weather algae blooms are showing up at the Second Creek and other areas of Sodus Bay.

If you would like to request a visual and blue-green algae toxin analysis at SUNY ESF you can submit a sample with a filled-out request form.

Click to download Request Form

Data Collection Instruments in the Bay

Save Our Sodus (SOS) has purchased data collection instruments that monitor the water quality of the Bay. The data can provide us and our partners at SUNY ESF with information that we can possibly predict when blue/green algae might appear. If you are out in the Bay you will see the monitoring instruments at various locations on the Bay.

Algae Blooms on Sodus Bay 7-5-16

Non-toxic algae bloom, Second Creek, Sodus Bay, July 3, 2016

To date, none of our weekly samples have shown any b/lue-green algae.

The blooms appear when the organism multiplies very rapidly over a short period of time, usually in calm, warm water.

Blue-green algae is concerning because has toxins when there is a high level of algae in the water. Contact with it may result in side effects including itching, rashes, fever, headache, upper respiratory symptoms, vomiting and diarrhea.

People are advised to not drink or use the lake water for cooking; any swimming, wading or other forms of direct contact with water containing blue-green algae should be avoided. Pets should also be kept away from the water.

DONATE TODAY

We Need Your Support

SOS relies solely on donations from stakeholders in the effort to Preserve, Protect and Improve Great Sodus Bay. Please join us in making Sodus Bay the Great Bay that it is – DONATE!

READ Sodus Bay Algal Bloom Q & A prepared by Wayne County Emergency Management Office

Click to Read Q&A Document

 

Blue-Green algae toxicity reports running late but bring good news:

The most recent b/g toxicity report indicates that the three samples taken around the bay on 6/25 indicated low levels of b/g algae and minimal toxicity.  A citizen sample from the N/E corner of Leroy Island taken on 6/19 from an apparent bloom indicated Anabaena and minimal toxicity.  All four samples were well within the World Health Organization’s drinking water standards. Sodus Bay 062714

SOS Expo. door prize awarded:

The Seaweeder weed rake donated by Bill Kramer and available at both Wolcott Building Supply and at Seaweeder.com has been delivered to lucky winner Miriam Derivan of Sodus Point.

SOS Expo. vendors make donation to SOS:

Each of the four major vendors at the Citizen Self Help Expo. chose to donate their $100.00, refundable deposit to SOS for the furtherance of its work.  They have been appropriately thanked and the SOS mission advanced.  They were well prepared for the myriad questions they received.

        • Aqua Cleaner Environmental, Inc.
        • Consolidated Treatment Systems, Inc.
        • Norweco, Inc./ Randall Excavating
        • Onsite Sales & Service

Algae Identification at Expo on Saturday

June 21, 2014

Fuerst Field, Greig Street, Sodus Point

9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. 

Is It Blue/Green?

Bring your water sample to the Expo!

 

There have been reports of algae blooms on both the east and west sides of the bay over the last couple of days.  I have one in front of my house as I write this.

algal bloom 6-19-2014

water sample 4I grabbed the required 500 ml sample (about 2 cups) in a spent water bottle, skimming it off the surface with a gloved hand.

I then placed a drop on a microscope slide and viewed it at 20X magnification using SOS’s new microscope.  It is B/G algae and to my untrained eye it appears to be Anabaena, a simple multicellular photosynthetic cyanobacterium.  I have no means to determine if it is toxic or not.

anabaena

Bring your water sample to the SOS Expo and ask the expert, Dr. Greg Boyer.

The New York Times article regarding the regulation of phosphorus within the Lake Erie watershed, is of interest to those of us living in the Sodus Bay Watershed only to the extent that it influences the phosphorus levels in Lake Ontario off Sodus Bay; the Niagara River provides 80% of Lake Ontario’s water.

New York State has already outlawed phosphorus in lawn fertilizers, except for new plantings, flower and vegetable gardens. Phosphorus has been removed from laundry detergents and many other products.

Sodus Bay is fortunate in that its upland watershed areas are primarily woods (27%) and fruit farmers (38%) who, like grape growers, use very little phosphorus. Given the world-wide demand for fertilizer and the subsequent increase in fertilizer prices over the past several years, farmers here are not anxious to buy fertilizer they don’t need or to let it wash away with spring runoff.

The practice of spreading fertilizer, or manure, for that matter, on top of snow or frozen ground is not considered a best management practice (BMP) or even a sound financial one.

~~~~~~ Some Highlights from the article:

A United States-Canadian agency called… to reduce the amount of phosphorus entering the water and creating a vast blanket of algae each summer, threatening fisheries, tourism and even drinking water.

In a report on the algae problem, the International Joint Commission, said that fertilizer swept by rains from farms and lawns was a major source of phosphorus in the lake. It recommended that crop insurance be tied to farmers’ adoption of practices that limit fertilizer runoff, and that Ontario, Ohio and Pennsylvania ban most sales of phosphorus-based lawn fertilizers.

The commission… urged Michigan and Ohio to invoke the Clean Water Act to limit phosphorus pollution from farmland as opposed to from factories and other places where pollution can be pinpointed and measured.

The proposals are likely to encounter strong opposition from the agricultural industry and fertilizer manufacturers…

Phosphorus… in fertilizer… is the source of the algal blooms, some of which are so toxic that they have killed dogs and sickened swimmers. Beyond clotting the lake’s surface, decomposing algae consumes the oxygen in the lake’s deep center each summer, creating a dead zone where deepwater fish that are essential to the lake’s food chain cannot exist.

National and state governments rid the lake of algae in the 1980s, ordering big cuts in phosphorus pollution from factories and sewage plants. But the blooms returned in the late 1990s as farmers started applying fertilizer on frozen fields in the winter, and spreading or spraying it instead of injecting it into the ground.

… large algae blooms have crippled tourism in a region where sport fishing and lake recreation are major industries, and they have forced towns and cities to filter and even shut off drinking water. The multibillion-dollar commercial fishing industry could be hit hard. The lake’s growing dead zone has prompted deepwater fish to move upward in search of oxygen, only to run into warmer waters that they find hard to tolerate. Deepwater fish such as perch — a favorite food of one big commercial fish, the walleye — could suffer if the dead zone continues to expand.

Continue reading story in The New York Times