(An open letter to Save Our Sodus members.) 

In response to the August 24th Opinion in the Times of Wayne County, “Support grows for a new plan to restore Lake Ontario”, I make the following observations.

Of the 41 organizations supporting Plan 2014 (the Plan), only a few of which are enumerated in the text of the opinion, the majority are wildlife or conservancy oriented.  The odd man out is my alma mater, Clarkson University, which straddles the most highly developed river per mile, for hydro-electric power generation, in the world.  I believe that their support is being influenced by local sentiment within their Institute for a Sustainable Environment.

I have not seen the referenced letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, et al.  It claims that, “The letter details how Plan 2014 will protect against extreme water levels…”.  What they don’t say is that the extreme water levels they talk about will actually be created by Plan 2014, which proposes higher highs and lower lows vs. the current Plan 1958 DD.  Seasonally variable high and low water trigger points, along with new operating guidelines and “adaptive management” influences, as yet unknown, will only serve to exacerbate these extremes.  The protection they speak of only applies to the Canadians who have said that they will not accept any plan that subjects them to an economic loss.  The losses will all be incurred by the property owners along the south shore of Lake Ontario.  The Nature Conservancy claims that the Plan is good because it allows wetland restoration to be accomplished for free.  Beware the free lunch.  It is a combination of overstated benefits and unintended consequences that have lead us to many disasters.

They claim that the plan will “restore tens of thousands of acres of wetlands…”.  That remains speculative; unproven.  Most, including Save Our Sodus (SOS) and me, support the concept of revitalizing necessary wetlands and making them a sustainable resource that will mitigate pollutants from runoff. Sodus Bay will benefit very little from the Plan due to our topography.  Proven means do exist that would revitalize the Sodus Bay wetlands with no economic loss to waterfront property owners.  In fact, water quality and habitat within both the wetlands and the bay would improve from these measures.  As the membership is aware, SOS is advocating and pursuing this approach and has testified to the IJC study team to this end.

Their letter claims that the Plan will “boost hydropower production …”.  They seem to overlook the fact that the Plan will not create any more water for the generation of hydroelectric power.  In fact, during periods of extreme high water, excess water would bypass the powerhouse via the spillway.  The only basis for their claim assumes that climate change would create more precipitation within the Lake Ontario watershed and the Great Lakes basin-wide.  I would argue that climate change, or perhaps only statistical variation in reality, has an equal chance of reducing the amount of water within the system.  This scenario would lead to a reduction in hydropower production.  The IJC claims that power generation is the big winner under the Plan.  Logic and science do not support that position.

The last point that they make is that the Plan will “enhance outdoor recreation and increase the resilience of 712 miles of Lake Ontario shoreline…”.  They clearly weren’t considering Sodus Bay or the Village of Sodus Point when they composed this statement.  Our wetlands won’t be restored, a large portion of the Village risks flooding and our shoreline infrastructure may be destroyed or rendered useless.  Plan 2014 is such a deal for us.  High water shuts us down and low water puts us out of business.  The resilience they speak of does not relate to our shoreline infrastructure.  In fact, it is not clear to this writer how it is helpful in any way in combating the extremes of high water, low water or storm events.

Why wouldn’t the IJC unanimously support this plan?  They concocted it from a ten year old, outdated, $20,000,000 international study with the help and influence of at least some of the 41 parties alluded to, in secrecy behind closed doors.  Touted gains are estimates based on projections and a hypothetical future state.  No consideration was ever given to the impacts on embayments like Sodus Bay.  Contrary to Jim Howe’s claim, the more that I learn about the Plan, the less I like it and I have never supported it.

The letter is appearing throughout the region to garner support for Plan 2014.  They obviously no longer feel that the acceptance of Plan 2014 is fait accompli.  Let’s rout them from this absurdity.  Write your letter or email to Governor Cuomo atwww.state.ny.us/governor and make your opposition known.  We are fast approaching a decision that, if not in opposition to Plan 2014, will prove catastrophic to our waterfront interests.

David S. Scudder, SOS President

We have recently had closings of some nearby Finger Lakes to all types of recreational use because of HABs and their related microcystin toxins. Upstream of Lake Ontario, western Lake Erie is suffering from a major HAB outbreak that has caused cities (e.g.: Toledo) to warn residents that they should not consume, cook or even bathe with water from the public water system. Basically they told the public not to use public water, period. Levels of toxins exceeded the World Health Organization’s (WHO) drinking water standard of one (1) part per billion (ppb). Toxin contaminated water cannot be made safe by boiling, chlorination or filtration.

Sodus Bay has had essentially no HAB outbreaks this year and toxicity levels, so far, are un-detectable at <0.1 ppb. The following information is preemptory and an attempt to inform you before the need to ask questions arises. One can safely assume that most guidelines for dogs are applicable to humans.  See  HABS Fact Sheet (updated 11-2014)

~Dave Scudder

The following article, by Ed Leroux, not only highlights the important content of the NYSFOLA Annual Conference but serves to point out the scope of SOS involvement in matters of importance to each of us.  Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) are merely an indication of the borderline eutrophic state of the bay.  Their visual impact and potential toxicity can have a devastating impact on property values and overall economic viability of the Sodus Bay area.  We are fortunate this season that there have been only trace (1) confirmed sightings and zero (0) instances of toxicity. Please take a few minutes to read the entire  report and view the related links.  The “Sodus Bay Trends in Water Quality Report” is a condensed summary of pertinent trends since the 2010 Blue-Green outbreak that turned off activity on the bay following the August 27th D & C article.  My hope is twofold: 1. that this will be informational to those who are new to the bay and to SOS and 2. that this will help the rest of us ward off complacency.  I will speak of vigilance in future articles.

Dave Scudder, President

31st NYSFOLA Annual Conference

“Celebrating Lake Stewardship”

Ed Leroux

SOS was represented in two ways at the annual New York State Federation of Lake Associations  (NYSFOLA) conference held in Hamilton NY on May 2-4 this year.  As attendees and as presenters, Dave Scudder and Ed Leroux participated in this year’s conference which included such topics as Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB’s), Invasive Species, Lake Management “Toolbox” and Dam Safety.  The program included both concurrent sessions and workshops as well as CSLAP (water sampling) training for new volunteers.  SOS’ presentation was part of the HAB session on Saturday morning.  Greg Boyer (SUNY-ESF) started the session with a tutorial on HAB’s followed by our presentation that was a recap of our efforts and activities over the past several years.  This was followed by Scott Kishbaugh, Chief, NYS DEC Statewide Monitoring Department who covered the results of studies of eight NYS lakes.

What did we learn?

HAB’s are not just a local problem – – it is state, national and worldwide.  In 2013, there were 62 separate locations in NYS alone that had confirmed toxic algal blooms.  A majority of these occurred downstate in small lakes and ponds in the Lower Hudson / Long Island Sound area.  24 of the confirmed toxic blooms were above the World Health Organization guideline for safe swimming.

By comparison, Sodus Bay has had a consistent decline in toxicity since 2010.  While we have had Blue Green blooms, most of which have been relatively small and of short duration, the toxicity was barely detectable in 2013.  Charts reflecting this information as well as historical toxicity are contained in the “Sodus Bay Trends in Water Quality” report which is being released on our website in the very near future.

What does this decline mean?

Unfortunately this does not mean we can declare victory.  There are examples of other water bodies that have had similar declines followed by a sharp, dramatic increase of toxicity.

The range of variables associated with blooms and toxicity levels is huge.  Levels of intensity and duration of sunlight, rainfall, temperature of water and air, wind direction and velocity, nutrient content and water flow all need to occur in the right combination to produce a B-G bloom.  But, even then it may not produce toxicity.  It is still not understood what triggers toxicity.

The decline in toxic blooms could be due in part to the efforts we have taken as a community.  The use of bubblers reduces the stagnant conditions especially in tight corners of marinas and dock areas. Additionally, the removal of floating weeds from these and shoreline areas  enables a freer flow of water thus helping to mitigate the conditions that give rise to a bloom.

We believe we are on the right track.

The SUNY-ESF monitoring program will continue to provide tracking and recording of the components of algal bloom activity.  This developing body of data and information will help in providing a better understanding of the dynamics of factors specific to Sodus Bay bloom formation.

The majority of factors that contribute to a bloom are not within our control such as climate, water levels, temperatures and currents.  The one major component, phosphorus, is something we can impact.  Continued effort to reduce nutrient loading from tributaries and shorelines will ultimately reduce the potential for bloom formation.

Thanks to SUNY-ESF efforts, we are well advanced compared to many other lakes in the state.  The amount of instrumentation used to sample and analyze our water quality and the process used for tracking and reporting provides us with a very high quality HAB monitoring program.

Additional information and references:

Visit www.nysfola.org  for current news and events related to water quality related to member lake associations.  From this site you can click on “CSLAP”, then “Report Search”, then enter “Sodus Bay” and “Wayne County”. This will connect to the extensive water quality report provided by the DEC based on past years sampling.

Go to:  www.ESF.EDU/GLRC    (click Research) for real time reporting from the ESF buoys.  In addition to the three open water buoys, the site reports real time information from the gauge station on Sodus Creek East as well as the weather station on Leroy Island.  By clicking on the header buttons you can access historical as well as current data in a variety of formats.

The Sodus Bay Trends in Water Quality Report is available in pamphlet format as well as electronic format on this website.

Algal Sample Drop-Off Established at Sodus Point Village Hall

A plastic “milk” crate has been labeled and placed outside the entrance to the Sodus Point Village Hall to hold algal samples. Click on the following link to access the “Request for Sample Analysis” form which must accompany each sample. [This form also includes all the guidelines for obtaining and submitting a sample.]  This form is also available in the collection crate, at the Village Offices during normal business hours, and will remain available on this website under the “Toxicity Reports 2014″ tab at the top of the page.

Samples dropped off on Tuesday will be picked up on Wednesday.  Samples will be identified and, when appropriate, analyzed for toxicity, with the results reported as requested on the form.  This seasonal public service is provided by SUNY-ESF in conjunction with their ongoing Sodus Bay water quality sampling and testing.

Sodus Bay: No Blooms Reported; None Found

Due to the holiday this Friday, Dr. Greg Boyer and his associates have gone to extraordinary efforts to make algal bloom information available in a timely fashion for this weekend. Let me emphasize: no blooms were reported by citizens and none were found by the SUNY-ESF team of researchers. Toxicity levels of water samples that were taken around the bay all showed only “Minimal Toxicity” – well within WHO drinking water standards. Use the following link to view full report: Sodus Bay 070214

Blue-Green algae toxicity reports running late but bring good news:

The most recent b/g toxicity report indicates that the three samples taken around the bay on 6/25 indicated low levels of b/g algae and minimal toxicity.  A citizen sample from the N/E corner of Leroy Island taken on 6/19 from an apparent bloom indicated Anabaena and minimal toxicity.  All four samples were well within the World Health Organization’s drinking water standards. Sodus Bay 062714

SOS Expo. door prize awarded:

The Seaweeder weed rake donated by Bill Kramer and available at both Wolcott Building Supply and at Seaweeder.com has been delivered to lucky winner Miriam Derivan of Sodus Point.

SOS Expo. vendors make donation to SOS:

Each of the four major vendors at the Citizen Self Help Expo. chose to donate their $100.00, refundable deposit to SOS for the furtherance of its work.  They have been appropriately thanked and the SOS mission advanced.  They were well prepared for the myriad questions they received.

        • Aqua Cleaner Environmental, Inc.
        • Consolidated Treatment Systems, Inc.
        • Norweco, Inc./ Randall Excavating
        • Onsite Sales & Service

Algae Identification at Expo on Saturday

June 21, 2014

Fuerst Field, Greig Street, Sodus Point

9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. 

Is It Blue/Green?

Bring your water sample to the Expo!


There have been reports of algae blooms on both the east and west sides of the bay over the last couple of days.  I have one in front of my house as I write this.

algal bloom 6-19-2014

water sample 4I grabbed the required 500 ml sample (about 2 cups) in a spent water bottle, skimming it off the surface with a gloved hand.

I then placed a drop on a microscope slide and viewed it at 20X magnification using SOS’s new microscope.  It is B/G algae and to my untrained eye it appears to be Anabaena, a simple multicellular photosynthetic cyanobacterium.  I have no means to determine if it is toxic or not.


Bring your water sample to the SOS Expo and ask the expert, Dr. Greg Boyer.

Plan 2014

Plan 2014

The following comments were posted today by Daniel P. Barletta of the Lake Ontario Riparian Alliance as issue 29 of his publication, “The Leveler”.

Two points are worth noting.

The first is that the International St. Lawrence River Board Of Control (ISLRBC), in any form, has relatively little control over the level of Lake Ontario given the constraints under which they must work.

The second pertains to the statement:  We, at LORA, have learned that the International Joint Commission will be holding a web based briefing of their proposed plan 2014 which they are sending to the governments for approval prior to implementing this defective plan.  The briefing will be next week on June 17, 2014.”

This could be another false start by the IJC or the real deal. Stay tuned and we’ll do our best to communicate the latest information as it becomes available.

David Scudder


From Dan Barletta:

Dear neighbors and elected officials representing the affected people along the shore of Lake Ontario,
We, at LORA, have learned that the International Joint Commission will be holding a web based briefing of their proposed plan 2014 which they are sending to the governments for approval prior to implementing this defective plan.  The briefing will be next week on June 17, 2014.
Please review the information presented in the attached newsletter.  We have shown that the Plan’s proposed “Trigger Levels” that were added to plan BV7 to make it Plan 2014 will do nothing to prevent millions in dollars of damages particularly along the south shore of Lake Ontario.
It is time for all representatives to stand up and get this plan killed!

The New York Times article regarding the regulation of phosphorus within the Lake Erie watershed, is of interest to those of us living in the Sodus Bay Watershed only to the extent that it influences the phosphorus levels in Lake Ontario off Sodus Bay; the Niagara River provides 80% of Lake Ontario’s water.

New York State has already outlawed phosphorus in lawn fertilizers, except for new plantings, flower and vegetable gardens. Phosphorus has been removed from laundry detergents and many other products.

Sodus Bay is fortunate in that its upland watershed areas are primarily woods (27%) and fruit farmers (38%) who, like grape growers, use very little phosphorus. Given the world-wide demand for fertilizer and the subsequent increase in fertilizer prices over the past several years, farmers here are not anxious to buy fertilizer they don’t need or to let it wash away with spring runoff.

The practice of spreading fertilizer, or manure, for that matter, on top of snow or frozen ground is not considered a best management practice (BMP) or even a sound financial one.

~~~~~~ Some Highlights from the article:

A United States-Canadian agency called… to reduce the amount of phosphorus entering the water and creating a vast blanket of algae each summer, threatening fisheries, tourism and even drinking water.

In a report on the algae problem, the International Joint Commission, said that fertilizer swept by rains from farms and lawns was a major source of phosphorus in the lake. It recommended that crop insurance be tied to farmers’ adoption of practices that limit fertilizer runoff, and that Ontario, Ohio and Pennsylvania ban most sales of phosphorus-based lawn fertilizers.

The commission… urged Michigan and Ohio to invoke the Clean Water Act to limit phosphorus pollution from farmland as opposed to from factories and other places where pollution can be pinpointed and measured.

The proposals are likely to encounter strong opposition from the agricultural industry and fertilizer manufacturers…

Phosphorus… in fertilizer… is the source of the algal blooms, some of which are so toxic that they have killed dogs and sickened swimmers. Beyond clotting the lake’s surface, decomposing algae consumes the oxygen in the lake’s deep center each summer, creating a dead zone where deepwater fish that are essential to the lake’s food chain cannot exist.

National and state governments rid the lake of algae in the 1980s, ordering big cuts in phosphorus pollution from factories and sewage plants. But the blooms returned in the late 1990s as farmers started applying fertilizer on frozen fields in the winter, and spreading or spraying it instead of injecting it into the ground.

… large algae blooms have crippled tourism in a region where sport fishing and lake recreation are major industries, and they have forced towns and cities to filter and even shut off drinking water. The multibillion-dollar commercial fishing industry could be hit hard. The lake’s growing dead zone has prompted deepwater fish to move upward in search of oxygen, only to run into warmer waters that they find hard to tolerate. Deepwater fish such as perch — a favorite food of one big commercial fish, the walleye — could suffer if the dead zone continues to expand.

Continue reading story in The New York Times