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.
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.
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:
Elizabeth Fox shared a photo of that same spot taken from the East.
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.
Please click on the image to enlarge.
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.
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.
“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)
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”
“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
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.
“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
“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.
The CSLAP collects water samples from Sodus Bay but does so less frequently than Dr. Boyer and his team from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) who perform most of the water testing for SOS. All the test results are forwarded to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for a statewide picture.
NYSFOLA has been a statewide voice for lakes since 1983, and remain committed to continuing to serve that function going forward.
NYSFOLA 2017 Plan:
Enhance CSLAP by eliminating the rotation system and providing more opportunity for aquatic invasive species surveys, data interpretation, and communication with volunteers. We continue to support DEC in the effort to detect, sample, and alert our members about Harmful Algal Blooms.
Upgrade the NYSFOLA Annual Conference
Upgrade the NYSFOLA Annual Conference. We are working on a new format this year. We have moved the banquet to Friday night to increase attendance and will end the conference on Saturday afternoon to reduce costs and allow people to head home earlier. We hope that the new format will also allow us to look for other venues around the state to increase participation by new members.
Support the Oneonta Foundation
Continue to support the Oneonta Foundation to fund graduate students in their efforts to prepare lake management plans for lakes across the state. They have provided valuable assistance to many of our members, and they are the future of lake management.
Develop Better Support Materials for Members
Develop better materials on how to form and manage lake associations, fundraising activities, membership recruitment, etc. In short, we need to do even more for our member lake associations!
Address Members' Concerns
Continue to answer your questions and concerns even as more time constraints are put on our part-time manager, Nancy Mueller who is also charged with running the day-to-day CSLAP needs. She continues to be the day-to-day voice of NYSFOLA and provides immeasurable service to lake advocates around the state.
Participate in Regional Activities and Be The Voice for NY Lakes
Participate in regional activities and “be the voice for NY lakes” by having a greater statewide presence. Increasingly, NYSFOLA is being asked to enter in collaborative projects with colleges, regional lake groups, and the PRISM activities. This raises our profile and makes our “voice” louder than ever.
Influence Elected Officials to Protect Water Resources
Continue to impress upon elected officials the need to protect water resources. Continue dialogue with regulatory agencies about the need to prepare and implement thoughtful regulations and permit requirements.
Learn more at www.nysfola.org.
November 15, 2016
Contact: Kate Frazer
The Nature Conservancy and Partners to Restore Sodus Bay Wetlands for People and Nature
Sustain Our Great Lakes grant will help revitalize more than 115 acres of coastal wetland habitat along Sodus Bay
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Nature Conservancy has been awarded a $193,521 grant from the Sustain Our Great Lakes program to restore and enhance more than 115 acres of wetland habitat in Sodus Bay by reconnecting floodplain habitat and assessing road-stream crossings that prevent fish from reaching spawning habitats.
The effort is a partnership among Save our Sodus, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF), the Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) and The Nature Conservancy. With contributions from partners and private funders, the total budget for the project amounts to more than $362,000.
“Sustain Our Great Lakes and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) have been critical partners in protecting wetlands,” said Jim Howe, executive director of The Nature Conservancy’s Central and Western New York Chapter. “Healthy wetlands filter our water, absorb storm surges and provide critical habitat for fish and wildlife. They’re vital to maintaining a healthy Bay and the benefits it provides―recreational boating, fishing, swimming and tourism―to our local economy.
The Nature Conservancy will first assess the effectiveness of 10 existing road stream crossings in improving passage for fish to upstream spawning habitat. Then, beginning in winter 2017 when the wetland mat is still frozen, an excavator will be used to create a more natural wetland with a meandering stream corridor, at least two acres of backwater potholes and new channels that connect streams to their floodplains. The revitalized wetland will offer new and improved habitat for species like northern pike, black ducks, green winged teal, least bitterns and potentially even black terns, a NYS-threatened species that hasn’t been observed breeding in the area in 10 years.
“The southern Sodus Bay wetland is one of only a few remaining coastal wetland complexes in the Lake Ontario basin,” said Gregg Sargis, director of ecological management for The Nature Conservancy. In addition to restoring wetland habitats for fish and wildlife, this project will make the shoreline of Lake Ontario more resilient for people by absorbing storm surge, increasing flood storage and reducing the amount of nutrients and pollutants entering Sodus Bay.”
“This wetland restoration project will be a great benefit to the entire watershed community, economically and environmentally,” said Save Our Sodus Board Member Edward Leroux. “Not only will the project benefit fish and wildlife, but the improved functioning of the wetland will significantly reduce nutrient loading from tributaries flowing to the Bay. Projects such as this one are an important contribution to the preservation of our recreation- and tourism-based economy as well as shore owners.”
“This project will also build upon invasive species management efforts currently underway across Sodus Bay while helping to deepen partnership for the benefit of the region,” said Lindsay Gerstenslager, District Manager for the Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District. “The District is glad to have worked with many partners to improve water quality and invasive species management over the years, and adding The Nature Conservancy to these efforts will broaden our scope and expertise.”
“We are excited to work with The Nature Conservancy on this important project,” added Gregory Boyer, Director of Great Lakes Research and Professor of Biochemistry at SUNY-ESF. “While this project will improve fish habitat in the wetlands, we are hoping it will have an equally important role in limiting the nutrients entering Sodus Bay via Sodus Creek. This should lead to long-term benefits such as improved water quality and a reduction in harmful algal blooms that have plagued the Bay in past years.”
Additional private funds will be needed to complete this vital environmental restoration initiative. The Helen & Ritter Shumway Foundation has provided a grant in support of the effort, and The Nature Conservancy will be looking to raise additional funds over the next year.
Sustain Our Great Lakes is a public–private partnership that supports habitat restoration in the Great Lakes basin. Administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a significant portion of program funding is provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), a federal program designed to protect, restore and enhance the Great Lakes ecosystem. In 2016, the Sustain Our Great Lakes program awarded The Nature Conservancy $1.19 million for Great Lakes coastal wetland conservation projects in Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and New York.
Learn more about Nature Conservancy projects across the Great Lakes basin that received Sustain Our Great Lakes funding this year.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Nature Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. In Central and Western New York, The Nature Conservancy has protected nearly 100,000 acres for people and nature and owns and manages preserves totaling 30,000 acres. www.nature.org
With Summer over and most of the boats on Sodus Bay put away, it is a good time to look back and review 3 of the events initiated by Save Our Sodus that got the most traction in the Sodus Bay fans’ community.
WATER CHESTNUTS PULLS
We sponsored primarily one but really a couple of Chestnut pulls throughout the summer.
Several tons of water chestnut were pulled from Sodus Bay.
Sodus Bay Improvement Association, an east side organization pulled chestnuts from Clark Creek. During three days of the chestnut pull 36 Volunteers in various boats and even a paddle board(!) did a great job of cleaning up areas prone to water chestnut growth – First and Second Creeks, Clark creek and others.
SODUS BAY WATER QUALITY WORK PARTY and EXPO
a.k.a. BEACH CLEANUP AND CELEBRATION
During the 2015 New York State Beach Cleanup 7,723 volunteers in 26 counties removed 125,554 pounds of debris along 250.21 miles of shoreline.
On September 17th we held a SODUS BAY WATER QUALITY WORK PARTY and EXPO in conjunction with 31st Annual New York State Beach Cleanup.
84 volunteers showed up around 8-30 a.m. on a rainy Saturday morning, including many scouts and school kids.
They cleaned the public beach in Sodus Point, the areas along Wickham Boulevard, and the Margaretta Road boat launch, and several other areas within the village of Sodus Point. Crescent Beach was also cleaned up.