* 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.

{cbt-quote}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.{cbt-quote}

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

APRIL 2016 STORM

The combination of the storms on Sunday and Monday, April 3 – 4, 2016 and the higher than normal water levels (approximately 246.3) have caused a break in a few barrier bars along the South Shore of Lake Ontario, including the Port Bay east barrier bar and Charles Point/Crescent Beach connection on Sodus Bay.

Thankfully no action has been taken on Plan 2014.


If Lake Ontario was under Plan 2014 control, the water level would be approximately 7.5 inches higher and the trigger to increase the outflow would not have been reached.
The IJC has been working to release water at a higher than normal rate for most of 2016. Water levels historically rise through June so we need to hope for no more storms.

During this storm, Sodus Bay also suffered damage.

The east break wall was pounded for over a day, Crescent Beach reportedly over topped and definitely suffered damage over the winter, a boat house has floated several properties away from its home and docks and other items have broken free from the shores of the bay.

Sodus Point April 2016 storm

A boat house that floated away after heavy storm pounding is getting pulled back home.

 

The following was posted on the Sodus Point, NY Facebook page by Rosa Fox:

Charles Point can now again be called Charles Island… The photos below were taken on April 9, 2016 on the stretch of – what used to be the board walk connecting Crescent Beach to Charles Point. The board walk is gone. The breach is about 75 feet wide. Deep spots – so not crossable today. A plume of mud from the break goes 1/4 to 1/2 mile south out into the bay. We expect that the break will widen, as the waves have already started to wash away bushes and beach into the bay. Location is west of the Bloomer cottage.”

April 2016 Storm Damage Sodus Point, NY

Photo by Rosa Fox: Huge hole in Crescent Beach located near Charles Point

 

Photo by Rosa Fox: 70 ft + Breech of Crescent Beach located near Charles Point caused by April 5-6, 2016 Storm on Lake Ontario near Sodus Bay

Photo by Rosa Fox: 70 ft + Breach of Crescent Beach located near Charles Point caused by April 3-4, 2016 Storm on Lake Ontario near Sodus Bay

 

Photo by Rosa Fox: 70 ft + Breech of Crescent Beach located near Charles Point caused by April 5-6, 2016 Storm on Lake Ontario near Sodus Bay

Photo by Rosa Fox: 70 ft + Breach of Crescent Beach located near Charles Point caused by April 3-4, 2016 Storm on Lake Ontario near Sodus Bay

 

Charles Point, Aerial Photo from Cornell Library, Circa 1938

Charles Point, Aerial Photo from Cornell Library, Circa 1938 – Charles Point and Crescent Beach aren’t connected

 

CLAYTON — In two months, Plan 2014 will be celebrating the second anniversary of its inception. There is no set date, however, for its official implementation. Plan 2014 seeks to update half-decade-old lake and river water level regulations so the St. Lawrence River can return to more natural flowing patterns. Last weekend’s Clayton boat show held at the Cerow Recreation Park Arena featured a Plan 2014 presentation by Dereth B. Glance, a commissioner with the International Joint Commission. Plan 2014 was devised by the IJC, a partnership between the United States and Canada to help resolve issues concerning water resources bordering the two countries. Ms. Glance summarized the plan’s goals and gave an update on its progress. She said the plan is essentially in a holding pattern until the IJC receives word from the United States and Canadian governments. Once both governments and the IJC have officially agreed upon the plan, implementation can begin. The plan would update Plan 1958-DD, which has not been changed in more than 50 years. The problem, Ms. Glance said, is that the current plan does not take natural occurrences into account, such as changes in temperature and ice cover over a number of years. Ms. Glance said the current regulations have “compressed” water flow that lies between high and low levels of the lake and seaway. As a result, wetland ecosystems have been harmed significantly, and northern pike populations have plummeted. One of the most important aspects of the plan, Ms. Glance said, is that it’s designed to improve all interests in the lakes and seaway, including the environment, hydropower, sanitation, recreation and navigation. She noted, however, that there have been concerns that new water levels under Plan 2014 regulations could affect dock placement. “We understand that you can’t regulate water levels to make everybody happy, because everybody wants the level at the right level where their dock is,” she said. “That’s important for us to hear ... but we have to do what’s best for the entire system.” Ms. Glance was joined by former Department of Conservation Regional Director Thomas E. Brown, who said the plan would also utilize “adaptive management,” which would analyze the effects of the plan once it’s put into action. Plan 2014 has been supported by U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, who has said she is building support in Congress to help speed up the plan’s launch.

An April 3-4 Storm of 2016 Outcome – a 75 feet breach in Charles Point which is now separating Charles Island from Crescent Beach. Photo by Charles Boogaard

 

This April Storm just gave us a glimpse of what high water levels and a relatively minor storm can do. Arney’s Marina in Sodus Point is barely above water.

As if the storm didn’t send a strong message for us to keep applying pressure and making sure the Plan 2014 doesn’t move forward, a recent article published in Watertown Daily  just added the proverbial fuel to the fire.

It reminded us that in two months, Plan 2014 would be celebrating the second anniversary of its inception.   Dereth B. Glance, a commissioner with the International Joint Commission made a presentation about Plan 2014 at a recent boat show in Clayton, NY.

According to the article, Ms. Glance summarized the plan’s goals and gave an update on its progress. She said the plan is essentially in a holding pattern until the IJC receives word from the United States and Canadian governments. Once both governments and the IJC have officially agreed upon the plan, implementation can begin.

“The plan would update Plan 1958-DD, which has not been changed in more than 50 years. The problem, Ms. Glance said, is that the current plan does not take natural occurrences into account, {INDEED, INCLUDING STORMS SIMILAR TO THE ONE WE JUST HAD – admin} such as changes in temperature and ice cover over a number of years. Ms. Glance said the current regulations have “compressed” water flow that lies between high and low levels of the lake and seaway. As a result, wetland ecosystems have been harmed significantly, and northern pike populations have plummeted.

One of the most important aspects of the plan, Ms. Glance said, is that it’s designed to improve all interests in the lakes and seaway, including the environment, hydropower, sanitation, recreation and navigation. She noted, however, that there have been concerns that new water levels under Plan 2014 regulations could affect dock placement. {A major understatement from our perspective – admin} 

“We understand that you can’t regulate water levels to make everybody happy, because everybody wants the level at the right level where their dock is,” she said. “That’s important for us to hear … but we have to do what’s best for the entire system.” {We also want our shoreline to stay where it is. What’s wrong with that?- admin}

Plan 2014 has been supported by U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, who has said she is building support in Congress to help speed up the plan’s launch.”

Below is a photo (by Chris Trine) of the protection for the parking lot at Sodus Point Park, owned by Wayne County. The damage would be greater under Plan 2014, since water levels would be much higher than at the present time.  Additionally, and more importantly, the damage to public infrastructure like this was never added as a cost during Plan 2014 assessments.

Parking-Lot-Protection-Chri

 

The message that this storm brought was loud and clear: We need to do all we can to prevent Plan 2014 from going into effect. We are reaching out to our community for support – please support us financially so that we can facilitate the restoration of the barrier bar, make the necessary trips, collect more data and once again deliver our message to the decision makers BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.  

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