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

Sodus Bay Has Enjoyed the Cleanest Water in a Decade!

TO CELEBRATE, Save Our Sodus Invites You and Yours to a Work Party & Expo

on September 17th, from 8-30 a.m. till 1 p.m. at the Sodus Point Beach

We are organizing this Work Party in conjunction with the 31st Annual New York State Beach Cleanup Day. 

The volunteer participants will clean the Sodus Point beach that so many of our residents and guests love and enjoy.

All Beach Cleanup participants in exchange for bags filled with the trash collected on the beach will be given tickets to a FREE meal. 

The meal will include Pulled Pork, Cole Slaw, Baked Beans, Mac Salad, Salt Potatoes, Soda and water, is sponsored by Save Our Sodus and provided by Captain Jack’s.

Work Party and Expo Itinerary

  • Beach Cleanup - From 8-30 a.m. till. 11-30 a.m.

    Beach Cleanup Volunteers (you?!) will be given special bags to be filled with trash collected on the beach. These filled bags will be turned in for an exchange to a FREE delicious lunch.

  • Expo - 8-30 a.m. till 11-30 a.m.

    This is where you can learn What Worked, and What Else We Can Do to make sure Sodus Bay’s water stays clean.

  • Lunch and Party

    Pulled Pork, Cole Slaw, Baked Beans, Mac Salad, Salt Potatoes, Soda and water will be FREE to the Beach Cleanup participants. Captain Jack’s will be providing and serving it.

IF you enjoyed your summer on Sodus Bay, YOU WILL FEEL GREAT joining our Work Party and Expo!

Please COME, BRING YOUR FRIENDS AND KIDS. 

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.