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

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?”

”What is E.Coli bacteria’s life span?”

We received this question from one of our readers:

“I just read the SOS letter re E. coli and warning to avoid swimming near streams entering the bay. I wonder if we know the life span of E. coli? I checked around and as near as I could find it is about a hundred days. That seems like a long time.”

We passed this question to Greg Boyer, SOS advisor,  Director of Great Lakes Research Consortium and Professor of Biochemistry SUNY- College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Here’s what he replied:

E. coli comes and goes (it doubles every 20 minutes or so under optimal conditions) so the life time of any given organism is not that informative.   In general – it is a biomarker for fecal contamination – (not necessarily human) so it is often elevated in streams during the spring when there is a lot of runoff.   This could be coming from Geese, cows,  or leaky septics just to name a few.  What one worries about are consistently high levels that indicate a renewing source of the bacteria.
 
The good news is that levels of coliforms in the lake itself are relatively low so there was not a widespread failure of septic systems due to the high water that was not also flushed out into Lake Ontario proper.   
 
The elevated coliform levels associated with the tributaries are not particularly unexpected given the very brown color of the water.    I would use common sense here – if the water is quite brown – then you may want to wait until it clears a bit.   If the water is clear – even near the mouths of the tributaries, then the sediments (and bacteria) have probably flushed away and do not pose an undue threat.   We will sample again next month to see if levels have gone down.

The dangers of E. coli – a short video by CNN

Coliform Testing Results of samples collected from18 sites around the bay

Please click on the image to open a pdf file.

* Plan 58DD regulated water levels in Lake Ontario for almost 60 years. Under Plan 58DD Lake Ontario water levels had a four-foot range above sea level: 243.3 to 247.3; Under the newly-enacted Plan 2014, approved by the International Joint Commission (IJC) that range was broadened to six foot or more above sea level.

The breach between Charles Point and Crescent Beach is growing.

A breach between Charles Point and Crescent Beach was created during a storm in April of 2016. It now connects Lake Ontario and Sodus Bay and is getting wider. This breach contributes to declining water quality in the bay.

As the water level in Lake Ontario rises, Save Our Sodus members and myself are frequently asked: “What is the difference between the old and the new plan that regulates water levels in Lake Ontario and is Plan 2014 to blame for the current high water?” 

As of this writing, Lake Ontario is 21 inches higher than its long-term April average water level. The IJC has been telling us that the water levels are nearly the same now as they would be under Plan 58DD.  They are correct; we have had a wet spring with a lot of rain.  The issue is the word nearly

A cottage on Charles Point, Sodus Bay, NY - photo by Nancy Dodge-King

A cottage on Charles Point. Photo by Nancy Dodge-King, April 2017

Under Plan 58DD, flows would have been increased starting in March, around the ice flows because under Plan 58DD IJC was able to adjust water levels in advance of a situation. Plan 2014 does not let them do that because they did not always accurately predict the changes in water levels. Instead, Plan 2014 introduced triggers. 

The Army Corps of Engineers said some of those triggers have already been met, and outflow has been increased multiple times. But that’s not enough.

Under 58DD by now flows from the Mt Morris dam would have been further reduced, and the water level would have been lower.

Under Plan 58DD, flows would have been increased starting in March, around the ice flows because under Plan 58DD IJC was able to adjust water levels in advance of a situation. Plan 2014 does not let them do that because they did not always accurately predict the changes in water levels. Instead, Plan 2014 introduced triggers. By now flows from the Mt Morris dam would have been further reduced, and the water level would have been lower.

A photo of a flood in Sodus Point 70 years ago. We hope to be spared of a repeat. 

How much lower is a debate that only the IJC has the information to figure out.  I’m sure they are not interested in telling us if they have spent the time to figure it out.  It is inches, not feet.

We are at the point where a few inches make a difference.  Just for the reference – when Lake Ontario is 10” higher, as it has been in April, it adds 1.6 trillion gallons of water to the lake. Even a light spring storm could cause a serious damage.

Arnies’ Marina. Photo by David Figura, newyorkupstate.com

Under Plan 58DD we would not be in quite the crisis we are in today.  And we would feel comfortable that the crisis would go away in a few weeks, not a few months.  The water would still be high and we may be starting to sandbag.  We would have had some of the erosion but not nearly what we have had.  Some areas have lost over 20 feet of lakefront property.  We are not forecast to be at normal June levels until mid-August.

"when Lake Ontario is 10” higher, it adds 1.6 trillion gallons of water to the lake; even a light spring storm could cause a serious damage."

Between climate change and Plan 2014, we need to have a plan how to mitigate our shorelines and infrastructure for higher water. 

The DEC is working with the county and local towns to better understand the issues and to develop a mitigation plan.  Nothing definitive yet but we should expect some direction soon. 

The next step will be finding the money to pay for the needed modifications and repairs.

Please send us your pictures

Please email SOS@saveoursodus.com any pictures and estimates you have of damaged areas.  We will ensure that they are broadly shared with those that may be able to help.  If you are a Facebook user, please post those pictures on our FB page https://www.facebook.com/saveoursodus . Please include the date the picture was taken. THANK YOU in advance.

Every chance you get, please let your local representatives know that Plan 2014 must be modified or repealed. We at Save Our Sodus are tirelessly working on it as well.

Charles Point, April 2017. A breach that now separates Charles Point from Crescent Beach could be seen in the upper middle.  Photo by Dave Pitts, FB

Featured image at the top of the post by Joanne Wetton VanEtten, FB

The rising water levels on Lake Ontario are causing serious problems for local infrastructure, property and business owners.

Mayor of Sodus Point Chris Tertinek, Sodus Town Supervisor Steve Leroy, Heron Town Supervisor Laurie Crane, and Greece Town Supervisor Bill Reilich are part of the group of Lake Ontario towns that are planning to go to Washington to lobby against recently enacted Plan 2014 that regulates water levels in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

If Lake Ontario water levels continue to go up as experts are predicting, evacuations could result along the shoreline in coming weeks, officials said.

Sodus Point resident Ann Hayslip is pictured here in front of her house. The village is providing sand bags for those residents who request them, but it's their responsibility to put them in place. (David Figura l NYup.com)

Sodus Point resident Ann Hayslip is pictured here in front of her house. The village is providing sand bags for those residents who request them, but it’s their responsibility to put them in place. (David Figura l NYup.com)

“Lake Ontario and Wayne County bays and harbors are reported to be at, or above flooding level (247.3 feet), ” according to a press release Wednesday from the Wayne County Sheriff’s office.

Frank Bevacqua, a spokesman for the International Joint Commission (IJC) that recently approved Plan 2014, said the new policy has had a negligible impact on the current high water situation. “Plan 2014 took effect on January 7, and it has contributed a very small amount to the situation we’re seeing now, and things would only be marginally better if the old plan were being followed; it’s just a couple of inches difference,” Bevacqua said. According to him, the main issue has been all the rain.

“The rainfall in April has been extremely high,” he said. “We’ve had 50 percent above average on the Lake Ontario basin and 150 percent above average in the Ottawa River basin which contributes to flooding on the St. Lawrence River downstream.”

Bevacqua said dramatic swings in temperatures from January through March also contributed to situations that led to the higher than usual lake levels.

But the flooding is not just because of recent rain.

Plan 2014 clearly exacerbates the situation because it not only allows for the water levels to get higher (and lower) than before, but it also extends the duration when the water levels can remain higher. A spring storm which otherwise would not be a disaster, could quickly turn the situation into one. Even if get lucky and the storms will pass us by, the daily erosion is likely to cause damage to the shoreline properties.

The ground around Sodus Bay and Lake Ontario shoreline is mostly sand which makes it next to impossible to prevent the flooding. Residents and boaters are encouraged to minimize the wave action on Sodus Bay. Shoreline residents are encouraged to protect their property with sand bags that are provided by municipalities.

Elected leaders from the lakeside communities including Monroe, Wayne, Orleans, Erie and Niagara counties are turning to President Trump and the state department for help.

“We’re going to go down to Washington and we’re going to lobby. We’re going to raise our voices on behalf of our citizens to try and get some change. We’re not going to sit back and say, ‘Okay they have made their decision, we have to accept it,” says Greece Town Supervisor Bill Reilich.

“We’re asking that our federal representatives take action, to immediately lower the water levels and to also provide the necessary resources so that our infrastructure, our businesses and our property owners, including our homeowners are protected along the shorelines of Lake Ontario, ” stated Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo.

Hopefully, the White House will hear these calls for help.

 

NO WAKE ZONE within 500 feet from shore is in effect in Sodus Bay.

NO WAKE ZONE within 500 feet from shore is in effect in Sodus Bay.

An article by Beth Adams, WXXI:

Sodus residents are trying to protect their shoreline property from potential flooding as water levels continue to rise on Lake Ontario.
Town supervisor Steve LeRoy says sandbags are being made available to homeowners so they can create a breakwall to protect their property from surges that might be created by passing boat traffic or high winds.

Photo Apr 12, 10 01 20 AM

Sandbags being filled at the village of Sodus Point, NY

“If we are at flood stage, and the water is just beginning to seep up into people’s lawns, and we get a 60 mile an hour north wind, it’ll be devastating. And the water is continuing to rise now, so we’re really in trouble.”

LeRoy is a vocal critic of the joint plan between the U.S. and Canada to allow for more frequent variations in the water levels of the lake. After years of heated debate and revisions, the plan went into effect several months ago.

“The effects of that plan are evident,” LeRoy said. “We’re already seeing a very possible flood. We know at 247 feet above sea level we’ll begin to flood. I believe we’re within two inches of that now, and the water’s still coming up.”

But Keith Korawlewski, chief of hydrology for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Buffalo, says the Lake Ontario water levels are likely just as high as they would have been before Plan 2014 was enacted.

The biggest factor has been the wet spring that we had; including the rainfall we have had in the last couple of weeks has certainly impacted water levels on Lake Ontario.”

As of late Sunday morning, the water level on Lake Ontario was at just over 247 feet, a nearly 11 inch rise since April 1 and 19 inches higher than the long-term average between 1918 and 2016. The Army Corps of Engineers is predicting an additional 11 inch rise by May 14.

In Monroe County, the sheriff’s office is advising boaters and vessel operators to keep speeds and wakes down within 1,000 feet of the shoreline, saying that given the higher water levels, wake caused by boats and other vessels could cause significant damage to residents and boaters along the shoreline.

Deputies are also reminding boaters to be aware of significant debris in Lake Ontario and the surrounding waterways including trees and floating objects that could cause significant damage to boats and vessels.

Docks and other objects that are normally visible close to shore may be partially submerged and difficult to see because of the unusually high water level.

Article was originally published at http://wxxinews.org/post/sodus-property-owners-prepare-rising-lake-levels

Water levels in Lake Ontario are 18 inches above average for this time of year. Charles Point Docks in Sodus Point, NY. Photo by @CostichEngineering, Instagram.

Water levels in Lake Ontario are 18 inches above average for this time of year. Charles Point Docks in Sodus Point, NY. Photo by @CostichEngineering, Instagram.

 

 

March 2nd winds kept a lot of Sodus Bay residents awake at night.

Many lost electricity around 4 a.m., which was restored by 8 a.m.
However, some damage will take longer to recover from.

Crescent Beach / Charles Point Breach now connecting Lake Ontario and Sodus Point

Crescent Beach / Charles Point Breach now connecting Lake Ontario and Sodus Point. Photo taken from Lake Bluff by Paul Morgan shows Waves pumping through the breach after a night of high winds.

Electric pole on Crescent Beach which is right to the breach caused by last year April’s winds is almost in the water. Take a look:

Breach-electric-pole

Elizabeth Fox shared a photo of that same spot taken from the East.

Lizzie-Fox-(click on the image to enlarge)

Plan 2014 is already in effect.

Water levels in Lake Ontario and in Sodus Bay are about 9″ higher than usual.
The LEVELER, Lake Ontario Riparian Alliance Newsletter (Issue 64) has a chart that shows both normal and heavy precipitation outlooks. We are in trouble if we get near heavy.

Lake-Ontario-Monthly-Mean-Levels

Please click on the image to enlarge.

Lake-Ontario-Monthly-Mean-Levels.2jpg

The recent storm was another reminder for Sodus Bay and South Shore of Lake Ontario residents why we resisted Plan 2014. Although the Plan has been enacted, our fight isn’t over.

Please stay tuned and support SOS.

Thank you!

Michael-Pope-Lighthouse

Plan 2014 Impact?

Have you noticed that the recent levels of Lake Ontario are 4 inches above the long-term average?

Is this the result of Plan 2014?

Supplies have certainly been higher than normal so this may all balance out.  But maybe not.

The high mean for the water level according to the Plan 2014 Compendium Document in January is 246.92 feet (IGLD 1985) and in February this level is 247.28 (IGLD 1985), just 2 one hundreds of a foot below the 1958DD maximum high level for Lake Ontario.

usace_logo

One of many places to keep track –  US Army Corps of Engineers site. 

 

Sodus Bay Yacht Club and Water Level Meter:

On Thursday, December 8th, Commissioners of the U.S.- Canada International Joint Commission signed an updated order of approval for the regulation of water levels and flows in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

The original Plan was adopted by  IJC, which oversees Great Lakes issues, in mid-2014 . Adoption of the plan came after more than a decade of study and updating the existing 1950s-era regulatory plan.

To be enacted, Plan 2014 must be approved by the federal governments of both the United States and Canada. The updated order makes it possible for the IJC to approve Plan 2014.

The news of the Plan’s approval drew a lot of comments.

Save Our Sodus along with residents of the South Shore of Lake Ontario opposes Plan 2014.

SOS is communicating with our various governmental leaders to determine the most effective strategy forward. Please stay tuned for the updates.

Reactions

These reactions were compiled  by and shared on Democrat and Chronicle site.  

“May leave our lakeshore vulnerable.” 

“With the approval of Plan 2014 comes great risk to many of our community’s home and business owners. Under Plan 2014, the higher lake levels may leave our lakeshore vulnerable to substantial flooding and increased erosion, resulting in significant damages to both private properties and public infrastructure. Relying on the last 50 years of lake-level standards, homeowners and businesses along the shore of Lake Ontario have invested their time and money into protecting their properties and Plan 2014 jeopardizes those investments.” — Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo.

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo. (Photo: OLIVIA LOPEZ / @OLOPEZ4 /file photo)

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo. (Photo: OLIVIA LOPEZ / @OLOPEZ4 /file photo)

Dave McDowell, President of the Board of Directors of Save Our Sodus, Inc.

“Absolutely do harm.” 

“I’m very disappointed in our state and federal representatives and our senators for allowing this to happen. This will absolutely do harm to five or six of the counties on the south shore of Lake Ontario at some point. And doing harm to any stakeholder … was specifically prohibited by the IJC charter.” — Dave McDowell, president of Save Our Sodus.

“The Challenge To This Should Be A Legal One”

“Incredibly disappointed.”

“I am incredibly disappointed with today’s announcement that Plan 2014 will move forward. Despite the last-ditch actions taken by the administration today, I will continue to work with all levels of government — including the incoming administration — as well as stakeholders and community members to pursue every possible course to ensure that our shoreline is protected and to mitigate the impact of this decision.”U.S. Rep. John Katko, R-Camillus, Onondaga County.

Republican Rep. John Katko, D&C Staff photo

Republican Rep. John Katko, D&C Staff photo

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, Essex County, New York

“Critical to our economic growth.”

“Plan 2014 is critical to our local economic growth in addition to good environmental policy, and I applaud this important decision. Better regulating the water levels of the St. Lawrence will ensure that users — from boaters to commercial fisherman — can continue to enjoy the river. Lowering the impact of invasive species will ensure that outdoor recreationists can enjoy the river for decades to come. — U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, Essex County.

“Bureaucratic disaster.”

“If the International Joint Commission thinks for a second that Plan 2014 will ever be fully implemented, they are sorely mistaken. I can guarantee you that I will do everything in my power to protect the taxpayers, homeowners and small businesses along the Lake Ontario shoreline that are set to be devastated by this bureaucratic disaster.”  — U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, Erie County.

Republican Rep. Chris Collins

Republican Rep. Chris Collins

Jim Howe of the Nature Conservancy

“Revitalize our environment.” 

“Plan 2014 will protect and preserve some of upstate New York’s greatest assets — Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River and hundreds of miles of shoreline. We are grateful for this international, bipartisan decision to revitalize our environment and enhance the quality of life for all the people who live along the lake and river.” — Jim Howe, director, Nature Conservancy of Western and Central New York.

“Potential to endanger” 

“This plan has extreme potential to endanger the homes and livelihood of the thousands of residents within the town of Greece. I fear for our residents and businesses along the lakeshore not only in Greece but along the entire shoreline. Since the introduction of the proposed Plan 2014, I have been outspoken against its passage.”Greece Town Supervisor Bill Reilich.

Monroe County GOP Chairman Bill Reilich