Save Our Sodus



.. we are all partners in water quality ….. join us!

We are all partners in water quality


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Q and A with Local Student

Recently I was contacted by a student from a local high school who was “completing a research project about the negative and positive effects that foreign invaders have on the environment”. Because I felt it might have a broader appeal than to just one student and with the student’s permission, the questions and my response follow.

Q:

1) Despite all of the negative impacts invasive species have on the environment, are you aware of any positive impacts they have as well? If so, what?

2) Can you list examples of invasive species in New York, and what roles they play in the ecosystem they have invaded?

3) What solutions or programs are being enacted to solve the problems associated with foreign invaders?

4) To what degree are invasives impacting our area/New York State as a whole?

5) Have you conducted research in this area of study? If so, what was your hypothesis (what was the subject) and what conclusions did/could you deduct from the research?

A:

 The National Invasive Species Information Center (NISIC) defines invasive species as plants, animals, or pathogens that are non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause harm.  I am not an expert or researcher by any means but I have taken an interest during my retirement to advance the water quality of Sodus Bay in an effort to sustain it for future generations.  I am pleased that you are interested in this subject.

In the relatively short time that this country has existed, over 200 invasives have found their way here from other parts of the world.  Not all non-native, non-indigenous imports are bad.  There are both good and bad imports.  Invasives are like weeds.  Plants are only weeds if you don’t want them where they are.  Many non-indigenous plants, animals and pathogens were brought here with good intentions as was the case with Water Chestnut, Eurasian Water Milfoil, Hydrilla and Mute Swans.  Each of these was brought to this country by man to beautify aquariums or garden ponds with no consideration for unintended consequences.  Each has proven itself to be a net negative influence and a formidable foe costing hundreds of millions of dollars to control while none has been eradicated at this point.  I’m essentially convinced that eradication, although a goal, is rarely attainable and that a level of acceptable coexistence is a more reasonable end point.  This is the case with Purple Loosestrife.  Biological controls proven in Southeast Asia, in part by Cornell University students and staff, have the potential to bring this invasive into harmony with indigenous species.

Others invasives arrived here unintentionally by other vectors or pathways.  As residents of the Great Lakes Basin, we have been subjected to a major vector since the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway.  We have become victims of the contents of ballast water discharged into the Great Lakes by ships from around the world.  With that ballast water come potential invasives.  There is much talk currently regarding the treatment of ballast and bilge water prior to discharge to prevent the introduction of invasives into Great Lakes waters. This will serve to slow the influx of new threats.

Many imports are not perceived as harmful and are part of our daily diets. The tomato comes from the South American Andes via Mexico.  Bananas are native to Indomalaya and Australia.  Others, although harmful to the aquatic food chain, are perceived as beneficial.  Quagga and Zebra muscles are in this category in the eyes of some.  They have filtered algae from the water column creating clear water to greater depths than previously experienced.  To the casual observer this would appear to be an improvement.  The unintended consequence is that now the macrophite community (weeds) can flourish at greater water depths increasing the total biomass of the water body, diminishing recreational opportunities.   These small bivalves also serve to restrict water flow wherever there is an intake to a power plant, municipal water system or boat as they inhabit intake screens restricting water flow.

Monolithic stands of Water Chestnut have choked the southern waterways of Lake Champlain for over 100 years.  They have also destroyed previously thriving fishery habitat across the state. Presently we are faced with an even more formidable aquatic plant, Hydrilla.  As this invasive attempts a foothold at the southern end of Cayuga Lake at the Ithaca Inlet, at Fall Creek and in Tonawanda Creek that forms part of the Erie Canal, the State is expending great effort and money to contain and eradicate this plant.  Hydrilla has the ability to render a water body unusable as it has in the Florida everglades.

The “cost/(invasive) life cycle” curve quickly points out the cost benefit and comparison of prevention, early detection, control and reduction/eradication.  Many invasives arrive in a new environment with an ecological advantage.  They lack natural enemies and controls and may fill a niche not being served by their indigenous cohorts.  Consequently they thrive at the expense of native indigenous species until they come into balance or dominance over those with which they compete.  Other invasives that you may have heard of or be familiar with are Emerald Ash Borer that will kill most of New York’s ash trees, Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed (phototoxic) and Phragmites Australis which are spreading along our roadsides at an alarming rate.  Their propagation mechanism is roadside mowing.  The Round Goby is here to stay and the Asian Carp is threatening the Great Lakes at the Chicago sanitary and shipping canal that connects to the upper Mississippi basin at the Illinois River.

New York State has passed legislation to restrict the sale of some known invasives and recently passed legislation governing the transportation of aquatic invasive species via the vector of boats, trailers and motors.  This “Clean, Drain, Dry” campaign targets the spread of invasives and has spawned the advent of the Launch Steward Program around the state.  It targets macrophytes, baitfish and bilge water.  Lumber, wood product and firewood restrictions are also in place.

I suggest that you poke around on the internet for a plethora of additional information.   The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation would be a good place to start.  We are fortunate to be located in an area rich in academic resources that specialize in these and related subject areas.

I wish you well in your studies and encourage you to continue in this vein.  It is flush with opportunities.

Sincerely,

 

Dave Scudder, President, SOS


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Clean and Green

Several weeks ago it was suggested that I investigate some greener approaches to our activities around marinas and private property on the water.  I made an inquiry at West Marine and was introduced to The Brite Group, e.g.: Captain John’s Boat Brite.  This is a well established, local company that can be accessed at 585-943-6111 or www.boatbrite.com.  This local company offers a line of boat maintenance products that are both green and effective.  The accompanying piece is from their web site and helps explain the difference between something that is biodegradable and something that is green that will do less harm to you and the environment. EPA Clean and Green Guidelines

–David Scudder. President SOS


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How High’s the Water, Mama?*

Or ….“What will Plan 2014 do for you?”

If you’ve been coming to Sodus Bay very long, you’re not only aware of Crescent Beach (the sand bar), but understand its importance to the bay.  Crescent Beach is the isthmus that connects what would be the island of Charles Point to Lake Bluff.  Charles Point and Lake Bluff are very similar in geologic makeup, being mostly clay and hard pan.  Crescent Beach consists of stones, gravel and sand.  The importance of Crescent Beach to Sodus Bay cannot be overstated.  Without it, the northern ends of Leroy and Newark Islands would be exposed to the ravages of Lake Ontario.  They would become lake shore.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

If Plan 2014 is ratified by Canada and the United States we know that we will be faced with higher highs and lower lows.  That is what has been proposed by the IJC.  The lows may nourish the sand bar; the highs will be devastating.  If you don’t think that is important I would ask you to read on.

An acquaintance of mine recently purchased a cottage on Crescent Beach.  In August she witnessed lake waves overtopping the lakeside of her property and running across her property to the bay.  This is a lot that has not been breached in my lifetime.  The (six gauge average) water level at the time (August 13, 2014) was 246.00.  The upper control limit, datum, is 247.3.  Continue Reading →


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Plan 2014: Smoke and Mirrors or Panacea?

(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 at www.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


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Dogs and Harmful Algal Blooms

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

 


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Continued SOS Vigilence

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? Continue Reading →


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First Invasive Species Awareness Week Announced

GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES FIRST INVASIVE SPECIES AWARENESS WEEK

Gov. Cuomo’s announcement of the first Invasive Species Awareness Week is accompanied by a well written, comprehensive piece on invasive species. Please take the time to read it. It is all that you need to know regarding the subject unless you are intimately involved with some particular aspect of one or more invasives.

http://www.governor.ny.gov/press/07072014-invasive-species-awareness-week 

 


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Algal Sample Drop Off

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.


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Sodus Bay: No Blooms Reported; None Found

Sodus Bay: No Blooms Reported; None Found

07/03/2014

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


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Updates

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

 

 

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