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?”

”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.

Story first appeared on USA Today Network on May 30, 2017; by Steve Orr, Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle

LAKE ONTARIO FLOODING 2017Home atop eroding cliff is hanging on by a thread.

A family in Sodus Point, New York was forced to move out of their home after Lake Ontario erosion completely wiped out their backyard.

GREECE, N.Y. — Homeowners dealing with the highest water levels on Lake Ontario in 100 years of record keeping will receive $7 million in help from the state and boulders from the federal government, according to New York’s governor.

Waves already have destroyed public and private breakwalls along the shores of both Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, countless structures have been flooded and roads have been closed at times.

Lake Ontario is at the end of the five Great Lakes, and a dam near Massena, N.Y., regulates its flow into the St. Lawrence. Officials can’t open its gates all the way because extremely strong currents affect shipping, could damage turbines in two hydroelectric plants along the river and create flooding in the Montreal area.

Experts say it likely will be several months before Lake Ontario’s level drops appreciably. Upstream, Lake Erie also is seeing higher water levels because of a wet spring and flows from the other lakes; erosion is a worry.

“People here have lived through this for weeks now. God bless their stamina,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said here Monday in announcing the assistance.

New York’s $7 million will be parceled out after homeowners’ insurance pays out to help repair homes in eight counties along Lake Ontario’s and the St. Lawrence River’s shore where Cuomo declared a state of emergency May 2. Residents could obtain up to $40,000 depending on their income, and senior citizens could receive more.

A week ago, Cuomo’s administration announced $10 million to repair public infrastructure and $5 million in grants for small businesses. Cuomo said he had asked federal officials to install large boulders, or riprap, along the shoreline.

“It’s a start, but it’s not going to be enough,” said Virginia Meier, who lives on a street where homes to the north abut Lake Ontario. Flooding has taken away some backyards temporarily and erosion has removed some land forever.

Just shy of 15 inches of rain have fallen since March 1 in Rochester, N.Y., nearly double of normal. Northern New York, Ohio and nearby portions of the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec also have had heavy precipitation.

Sodus Point on May 21, 2017, Aerial Photos

Please see the photos below to get a better idea of the impact of the recent flooding on Sodus Point. Hover over images to preview in color. Click on any image to enlarge. Make a note of the submerged docks, the sandbags that are “highlighting” the perimeter of Sodus Point, standing water on the lawns, pumps pumping water back to the bay, the absence of boats in the water, the docks still sitting in the parking lots… what else do you notice in these pictures? Note, once you click on the image to enlarge it, a gallery window will open and you can browse through 50 images of Sodus Point.

Historic pictures of Sodus Point from the Air - marinas, restaurants... We are happy to have them and share with you.

* 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.