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.
* 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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