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.

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

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.

 

 

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.

Crescent Beach / Charles Point Breach now connecting Lake Ontario and Sodus Point

Crescent Beach / Charles Point Breach now connecting Lake Ontario and Sodus Point. Photo taken from Lake Bluff by Paul Morgan shows Waves pumping through the breach after a night of high winds.

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:

Breach-electric-pole

Elizabeth Fox shared a photo of that same spot taken from the East.

Lizzie-Fox-(click on the image to enlarge)

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.

Lake-Ontario-Monthly-Mean-Levels

Please click on the image to enlarge.

Lake-Ontario-Monthly-Mean-Levels.2jpg

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.

Thank you!

Michael-Pope-Lighthouse

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