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)

The Good News – So Far

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.

June 15th, 2017 Report Summary

Please click on the image to open a PDF file in a new window.

Blue-green algae in Sodus Bay as of 6-15-2017

July 6th, 2017 Report Summary

Please click on the image to open a PDF file in a copynew window.

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.

EAST BREAK-WALL

"The good news is...

…the task (of starting a repair project on the Break Wall) appears to be getting off the ground which will help ensure that great Sodus Bay remains a Bay, and does not merge with Lake Ontario.”

Dave McDowell, President, Save Our Sodus

The break-wall videos that we made in the spring were viewed JUST ON FACEBOOK by nearly 12,000 people. In addition to building awareness about the poor state of the break-wall, we wrote follow-up letters and made phone calls to various agencies but particularly the Army Corps of Engineers. As a result, a Sodus Bay break-wall project has been placed on the ACE 2018 budget request. The request will be reviewed with the public in February, when they unveil their 2018 budget request to Congress.

From what I understand this will begin the process of planning the best way to repair the break-wall, so we will see some engineering designs and this process could take two or three years from what we’ve been told. It’s unlikely that we will see any shovel in the ground for four to five years. The good news is the task appears to be getting off the ground which will help ensure that great Sodus Bay remains a Bay, and does not merge with Lake Ontario.

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

Last summer Sodus Bay and its fans were spared toxic blue-green algae blooms in spite of the relatively hot weather that usually brings toxic blooms. That was the initial reason to have a Celebration. We’ve all done our part – and could learn what else we can do to keep the water in our bay clean. Beach cleanup days are being held across the country to engage communities in cleaning beaches at the end of the beach season.

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.

In 2016 SOS decided to join this worthy movement.

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.

A few barrels, tires, lots of plastic bags, beverage bottles and cans, cigarette butts, food wrappers, candy wrappers, straws and bottle caps were collected. 

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.

Attention Sodus Bay residents and guests:

A very slight toxic bloom near the shore of Oak Park Marina was recorded last week.

As a precaution it is recommended that people and pets avoid contact with visible algae.

Please click on a link to open a report prepared by SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Sodus Bay Blue-Green-Algae Report 07.29.16  (a pdf file)

If you would like to request a visual and blue-green algae toxin analysis at SUNY ESF you can submit a sample with a filled-out request form.

Click to download Request Form

Data Collection Instruments in the Bay

Save Our Sodus (SOS) has purchased data collection instruments that monitor the water quality of the Bay. The data can provide us and our partners at SUNY ESF with information that we can possibly predict when blue/green algae might appear. If you are out in the Bay you will see the monitoring instruments at various locations on the Bay.

The blooms appear when the organism multiplies very rapidly over a short period of time, usually in calm, warm water.

Blue-green algae is concerning because has toxins when there is a high level of algae in the water. Contact with it may result in side effects including itching, rashes, fever, headache, upper respiratory symptoms, vomiting and diarrhea.

People are advised to not drink or use the lake water for cooking; any swimming, wading or other forms of direct contact with water containing blue-green algae should be avoided. Pets should also be kept away from the water.

DONATE TODAY

We Need Your Support

SOS relies solely on donations from stakeholders in the effort to Preserve, Protect and Improve Great Sodus Bay. Please join us in making Sodus Bay the Great Bay that it is – DONATE!

READ Sodus Bay Algal Bloom Q & A prepared by Wayne County Emergency Management Office

CLICK to read Q&A Document

Have you seen buoys around Sodus Bay? They help predict toxic algae blooms. SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) monitors water quality of the Bay. Watch this video to learn more.


COPYRIGHT © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY COPYRIGHT HOLDER

A crisp, clear spring morning when sunlight sparkles off the water might seem like an odd time to think about toxic algal blooms that coat the water in a thick blue-green film, but it’s precisely when researchers start water monitoring.

Toxic blue-green algal blooms in the northeastern United States typically form during the hot days of August. By keeping an eye on the water chemistry throughout the summer, researchers might be able to predict when a potential bloom is coming.

Michael Satchwell, senior research support specialist at ESF, and undergraduate Matt Blake deployed three buoys in Sodus Bay in early May to monitor water conditions in the bay. The solar-powered buoys measure the basic water chemistry, including temperature, pH, conductivity and dissolved oxygen levels, chlorophyll and phycocyanin, a pigment specific to blue-green algae. The central buoy houses a complete weather station and also records water levels. This data is being used to produce models of water movement within the bay.

“If we see a spike in phycocyanin levels we know a potential bloom may be coming,” said Satchwell. Data from the buoys is transmitted in near-real time to the Great Lakes Research Consortium’s website where anyone can access the data. It is also being used by researchers at the University of Buffalo to build a better predictive model for the occurrence of harmful algal blooms.

“If we get them (blue-green algal blooms), we get them typically in the late summer,” said Ed Leroux, a resident of Sodus Bay who assists the ESF team.

The bay experienced a major bloom in 2010 that shut down businesses two weeks before Labor Day, delivering a blow to the popular tourist area. “No one was in the water, no one was in the restaurants,” Leroux said. “It woke the community up. We had to find out why it happened and how it happened because it had a serious economic impact on the community.”

Blue-green algae blooms, or cyanobacteria, can be harmful to humans and fatal to pets. Exposure to the algae can result in diarrhea, nausea or vomiting; skin, eye or throat irritation; and allergic reactions or breathing difficulties.

Save Our Sodus, a group dedicated to addressing challenges to the quality of Sodus Bay, asked Dr. Greg Boyer of the ESF Department of Chemistry to look into the matter. Boyer, director of the Great Lakes Research Consortium and member of Save Our Sodus, has studied algal blooms in numerous water bodies in the Northeast and China for more than three decades.

Boyer began random water sampling in the bay in 2011 and has been collecting data, sometimes on a weekly basis every since. This information forms the basis of a weekly report that appears on the Save our Sodus website to inform the general public about conditions on the bay. The buoys were installed in 2011 to automate the process with funding from a number of sources, including a grant with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the Great Lakes Restoration initiative, New York Sea Grant and funding from the Great Lakes Observing System.

“To date, data shows chlorophyll has dropped off while phosphorus levels vary up and down, and toxicity is down; but that doesn’t necessarily mean things are getting better. Phosphorus levels have to be in check and we have to be able to predict the toxicity levels,” said Boyer.

Blooms are known to form in tight corners and areas with little water circulation, such as marinas, so the town installed blowers – normally used to keep ice from forming – to help keep the water moving in the summer, Leroux said.

So far, researchers have not identified a “smoking gun” that identifies what precisely triggers the toxic blooms. However work with the University of Buffalo strongly suggests that water movement in and out of the bay may be an important contributor.

Fortunately for the merchants and tourists in Sodus Bay, algal blooms have not been troublesome over the last few years. “There hasn’t been a significant bloom since 2010,” noted Satchwell.
“If you keep studying it, it won’t come back,” Leroux said, somewhat tongue in cheek. “So we’re going to study it to death.”

~~~~~~~ The story first appeared at http://www.esf.edu/communications/view.asp?newsID=5361 ~~~~~~~~~~