* 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