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”
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.