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St. Lawrence River Water Levels – Spring 2017

April 14th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

St. Lawrence River Water Levels – Spring 2017

The snow and ice are gone, and the beauty of River this time of year is drawing us all to it – whether for a walk along its banks, or to the end of the dock. And boaters are anticipating the day they launch. However we get to the River, it’s pretty clear the water is higher than we’re used to seeing this time of year.

Naturally it leads to questions about why and what will the higher level mean for this summer?

Is the water level of the River higher than usual this year?

Yes and No

Yes – It is a little more than 18” above its recent (1918 – 2016) average for this time of year and about 6” higher than last year.

No – Not in the bigger picture. The River is actually around 6” below the level it would be if were undammed and still allowed to run unobstructed.

Why are water levels higher than last year?

The water in the St Lawrence is higher than last year because the supply of water flowing into the river has been greater.

The River is not an isolated water body, it is part of a large, complex system. When looking at the level of the River, it is important to look at where its water comes from and the other factors that influence levels. It is fed by the outflow from Lakes Ontario and Erie, snowfall, and rainfall and runoff. And at times it must be controlled due to conditions on the lower river below the Moses-Saunders Dam.

According to the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board,

A series of storm events passed through the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system from April 4-10, resulting in significant precipitation across the region. Some eastern parts of the Lake Ontario basin received as much as 3.2” (80mm), while areas around the St. Lawrence River near Montreal saw as much as 3.5” (90mm) during the same series of events. . . The wet conditions have resulted in rapidly rising water levels throughout the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River system. . . To prevent . . . levels from rising further and causing more extensive damage [below the dam], the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board reduced outflows from Lake Ontario in accordance with Plan 2014.

What is Plan 2014 and what does it have to do with water levels on the St. Lawrence River?

When the Moses-Saunders Dam was built in the 1950’s it meant the St. Lawrence River no longer ran wild and a plan for managing its levels and flows had to be developed. That plan – Plan 1958DD – in operation for over 50 years, led to the loss of 64,000 acres of wetlands, the destruction of critical habitat and the decimation of key species like Black Tern and Northern Pike. In the 90’s it became clear a new plan was needed to stop the slow death of the River.

A new plan – Plan 2014 – was implemented just this past January after years of study, community input and review by the governments of Canada and the United States. It is intended to set water levels more in tune with the natural conditions.

By allowing for a more natural cycle of high and occasional low water, Plan 2014 will improve the overall health of the River and restore critical wetland habitat and species, and provide greater economic opportunities for the River region’s tourism-based economy. This Spring’s water levels are on track with Plan 2014 and should begin to have positive results.

What will Plan 2014 mean for water levels in the future?

Water levels have and will always fluctuate. It is important to understand that while we on the River tend to like our water levels to be on the higher side, the health of the St. Lawrence depends on having a variety of levels including some infrequent low levels. In a very few years, likely 6 or fewer years per century, levels will drop below the long-term average when water supplies to the River are naturally lower. These occasional low levels are essential to the health of the fish, the wildlife and the wetlands of the St. Lawrence River.

Will Plan 2014 mean a longer boating season?

Most of the time yes, but not always. Overall, it’s clear that Plan 2014 will extend the boating season. Over the last hundred years, the boating season under Plan 2014 would have been 23 weeks or longer in 51 out of every 100 years.

Click here for more information on Plan 2014

Click here for more news from the International St. Lawrence River Board of Control

Please consider becoming a member of Save The River to support our education programs and advocacy for a healthy St. Lawrence River – www.donate.savetheriver.org

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Budget Blunder? Absolutely Right!

March 13th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

Watertown Daily Times calls President Trump’s approach on vital Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River programs a, “Budget blunder.” And they are absolutely right!

In a March 11th editorial the Watertown Daily Times called out the President for his proposal to slash the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency and his intention to “wrench most of this from the EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative”.

The Times had reported the day before “Mr. Trump’s proposed 2018 budget request calls for funding to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to fall from $300 million to $10 million, a 97 percent reduction. Reuters reported the Environmental Protection Agency’s overall budget will be cut about 25 percent.”

This is simply outrageous.

As the Times editorial points out, “[t]o date, the GLRI [Great Lakes Restoration Initiative] has invested more than $2.2 billion in restoration projects in the Great Lakes.” In an earlier story the Times noted, “the GLRI provides funding for thousands of projects pertaining to wetlands restoration, combating invasive species and cleaning up toxins in the Great Lakes and along their shores.”

The GLRI has received bipartisan support in Congress since its inception. It is a keystone in the nation’s commitment to restore the health of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River; the largest freshwater system on earth, drinking water supply to millions and a recreational mecca that draws visitors from all over the world.

GLRI funded projects have certainly benefitted the environment of the communities where they are located. But these projects have also supported the economy of those communities with the direct and indirect jobs they have created and by the increased commercial and recreational use of the waters they have restored.

Save The River wholeheartedly agrees with the Times’ conclusion that, “Mr. Trump cannot be allowed to finance his plans at the expense of the health of the Great Lakes”.

And, while we are fortunate on the St. Lawrence River that Congresswoman Stefanik and Senators Schumer and Gillibrand support the GLRI, we know that restoration of these draconian cuts will not be easy to reverse and the effort will take more than the support of our local representatives.

For these reasons Save The River is committed to working with groups from all of the Great Lakes states to stop the President’s plan to slash the EPA and GLRI funding. You can help two ways:

  • Call your representatives at (202) 224-3121:
    • If they support full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative; say “Thanks”. Positive messages work to shore up support.
    • If they don’t support the GLRI; Tell them why it is important to you that they do. Personal stories help them understand how these programs impact real people.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in New York State by the numbers:

 

Read the full Watertown Daily Times editorial and stories at these links:

 

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Plan 2014 is the Right Plan for the St. Lawrence River

February 21st, 2017 | Posted by Lee

January 7th was a red-letter day for the St. Lawrence River.

It was the day Plan 2014 – the modern water levels plan Save The River has advocated for since the 1990’s – went into effect.

Unfortunately, even before it was unanimously approved by the International Joint Commission, a few elected officials and self-appointed spokespersons from the south shore of Lake Ontario began using “alternative facts” to block its approval and now its operation.

Their plan? Is no plan at all – They would keep in place the outdated regulatory scheme that has destroyed critical wetland habitat, decimated key species like Northern Pike and Black Term, and choked economic development up and down the River for the past 50 years.

Their efforts continue – and they are wrong on every point.

ECONOMIC AND SHORELINE BENEFITS

Their claim? The new plan “will set the stage for very large man-made disasters . . . [and] the real numbers [of damages] will be in the hundreds of millions [of dollars] . . . that could destroy the economies of six counties” (note 1)

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PUBLIC SUPPORT AND INPUT

Their claim? “The approval of this plan was a midnight action(note 2) and it “was a last-minute mid-night approval by U.S. and Canadian officials having no understanding of [its] ramifications.” (note 3)

THE BOTTOM LINE

Their claim? “[A] recent decision by the International Joint Commission on Lake Levels [sic] to increase the maximum lake level by another two feet.” (note 4)

 


Notes:
    1.  January 30, 2017 letter from the Lake Ontario Riparian Alliance (LORA) to President Trump
    2.  January 17, 2017 letter from Reps. Collins and Katko to then Vice President-elect Pence
    3.  January 30, 2017 LORA letter to President Trump
    4.  Letter to the editor from NYS Assemblyman Peter Lawrence published in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle April 30, 2016

 

Save The River and the standing heron are registered trademarks. Riverkeeper is a registered trademark of the Waterkeeper® Alliance

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Save The River Submits to Comments to Public Service Commission on Wind Projects

September 14th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

from Save The River’s submission to the New York State Department of Public Service:

“The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has issued a report based on radar generated data stating, ‘Our data demonstrate that the shoreline areas of Lake Ontario are important for migrating birds and bats. We have identified behaviors that concentrate migrants along the shoreline, demonstrated that these behaviors occur regularly throughout the season, and established that migrants are flying at altitudes that place them at risk of collision with current or future wind energy development in the area. The importance of shoreline areas, as revealed by our study, highlight the need to avoid these areas as migration corridors as recommended in the Service’s Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines (USFWS 2012).’ (emphasis added)

Based on the Fish and Wildlife Service report the American Bird Conservancy concluded, “this new radar study suggests that the minimum should be extended even farther, perhaps as far as 10 miles.”

“The implications of this study for the likely impacts on migratory birds and bats of the three industrial wind projects currently proposed and proceeding now, all of which are well within 10 miles of Lake Ontario or St. Lawrence River shoreline, must be taken into account by every level of government agency – from local municipal, to state and federal – with permitting or oversight authority. In particular the New York State Departments of Public Service and Environmental Conservation which have shared responsibility, under Article 10, for the permitting and siting of industrial wind projects, must exercise their statutory authority and require the developers of these three projects undertake a joint, credible effort to apply the findings of the Fish and Wildlife Service report to the impacts of their projects on migratory birds and bats.

“Eagerness either for profits or quick solutions to the uncertainty of carbon-induced climate change cannot replace science or the development of sound environmental solutions that are protective of the ecosystem as a whole. Since 2010 Save The River has called for a moratorium on industrial wind projects in the environmentally significant and sensitive area that is the St. Lawrence River valley until a cumulative environmental assessment of the impacts of such projects has been conducted. In 2013 we objected to an industrial wind project proceeding to the application phase of the Article 10 process for the same reason. As recently as April, we reiterated this position.

Click the following for the full text of:

Save The River’s September 14, 2016 letter to the New York State Public Service Commission on the Horse Creek Wind Farm.

Save The River’s “Position on Industrial Wind Development in the St. Lawrence River Valley”

US Fish & Wildlife Service’s “Great Lakes Avian Radar Technical Report; Niagara, Genesee, Wayne and Jefferson Counties, New York, Spring 2013 Season”

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Our River Should NOT Be One of America’s Most Endangered!

August 4th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

You Know You Want To!

You Know We Want You To!

You Know It’s the Right Thing To Do!

SO DO IT!

Be creative if jumping into the River isn’t your thing. Just support‪ #‎Plan2014Now‬ for a healthy River for now and future generations.

Click here for tips on how to “Take the Plunge” & Support #Plan2014Now

American Rivers named New York’s St. Lawrence River among America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2016, shining an international spotlight on the threat outdated dam operations pose to imperiled fish and wildlife and local communities. From the mouth of Lake Ontario to the Moses Saunders Dam, the 114-mile endangered coastline of the Upper St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario constitutes the largest coastal environment in Quebec, Ontario and New York State.

With the stroke of a pen, U.S. and Canadian governments can restore this vital shared waterway. For over 50 years, the levels of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River have been regulated by the Moses Saunders Dam, whose operating plan was developed with pre-computer technology. A new plan, known as Plan 2014, is ready for enactment and will adjust the dam’s operating plan to work with nature.

Learn more about the plan to restore the St. Lawrence River, one of America’s most endangered Rivers at: http://plan2014now.savetheriver.org/

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St. Lawrence added to Endangered Rivers List. Here’s Why.

June 14th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

Coley-Baker_2-680x303

American Rivers’​ next installment – a guest blog from WWF-Canada – focusing on the St. Lawrence River as one of America’s most endangered rivers.

And how, with the stroke of a pen, the U.S. and Canadian governments could begin the restoration of wetlands, habitat and key species, by approving Plan 2014 now.


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Congresswoman Stefanik works to remove Bad Ballast Bill tucked Into Defense Authorization Act

May 31st, 2016 | Posted by Lee

Save The River / Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and conservation groups around the country are working to ensure the Environmental Protection Agency retains its authority to clean up ballast water discharges.

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As reported by the Watertown Daily Times in a May 27, 2016 story by Brian Molongoski, “Non-defense-related legislation tucked away in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last week, would remove the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority in regulating ballast water discharge from cargo vessels.” The story was also covered by ABC and other media.


Exempt from the Clean Water Act?

Exempt from the Clean Water Act?

Two weeks ago we asked you to contact your Congressperson to stop this from happening. Many of you responded and Congresswoman Stefanik heard you. And although she did what she could, the “must pass” Defense Authorization Act was approved the House of Representatives with language rolling back Clean Water Act protections from the threat of invasive species in ships’ ballast water that our River, and the Great Lakes now have.

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Your calls made a difference. Ms. Stefanik has vowed to continue to work to remove the “Vessel Incidental Discharge Act” language from the defense bill.

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Let her know you appreciate her efforts and that you support her work to protect the St. Lawrence River. Call her office at (202) 225-4611 or send an email by going to: https://stefanik.house.gov/contact/email

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This type of advocacy takes resources. If you would like to contribute to our efforts by becoming a member please click here. And keep coming back for updates.

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:  (202) 225-4611
or send an email by going to:  https://stefanik.house.gov/contact/email
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EPA Accepting Public Comments on Proposal to Ban the Dumping of Sewage from Boats into the St. Lawrence River

April 14th, 2016 | Posted by Lee
EPA Accepting Public Comments on Proposal to Ban the
Dumping of Sewage from Boats into the St. Lawrence River
Contact: John Martin, (212) 637-3662, martin.johnj@epa.gov
(New York, N.Y. – March 24, 2016)  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that a “no discharge zone” can be established for the New York State portion of the St. Lawrence River. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation petitioned the EPA to prohibit boats from discharging sewage into the river by establishing a “no discharge zone” for the area. The EPA has reviewed the state petition and found that there are adequate facilities around the St. Lawrence for boats to pump out their sewage, rather than dumping it in the water.
“It’s astonishing that in 2016, boaters can dump raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River. Declaring this area of the St. Lawrence a “no discharge zone” would provide cleaner water for people who use this river,” said Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “The EPA and New York State looked carefully at the information and agree that the St. Lawrence has enough facilities to remove treated waste from all types of vessels and keep it from entering the river.”
Sewage discharges from boats can contain harmful levels of pathogens and chemicals such as formaldehyde, phenols and chlorine, which have a negative impact on water quality, pose a risk to people’s health and damage fish and wildlife. The EPA is encouraging the public to comment on its proposed approval until April 25, 2016.
The proposed “no discharge zone” for the New York State portion of the St. Lawrence River stretches from Tibbetts Point on Lake Ontario to the western edge of Lake Saint Francis, not including those waters that lie within the exterior borders of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe Reservation. The proposed “no discharge zone” encompasses approximately 112 river miles and shoreline, including numerous tributaries, harbors and embayments of the river— including Eel Bay, Lake of the Isles and Goose Bay— and other formally designated habitats and waterways of local, state and national significance.
This action is part of an EPA/New York State Department of Environmental Conservation strategy to eliminate the discharge of sewage from boats into the state’s waterways. New York State water bodies that have already been established as “no discharge zones” include Lakes Erie, Ontario, Champlain, and George, the New York State Canal System and the Hudson River, among others.
EPA’s determination is available in the Federal Register at: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/
For more information about “no discharge zones,” visit: http://www.epa.gov/region02/water/ndz/index.html
To comment on the proposed EPA approval, email, fax or mail comments to Moses Chang at chang.moses@epa.gov, Fax: (212) 637-3891. Mailing address: Moses Chang, U.S. EPA Region 2,  290 Broadway, 24th Floor, New York, NY 10007-1866.

Support EPA’s designation of the St. Lawrence River as a “No Discharge Zone”.


Even treated sewage from boats, which can contain chemicals harmful to aquatic life and humans, has no place in the St. Lawrence.Kid in the River (credit Coley Baker)


The EPA has proposed a ban on the dumping of sewage from boats into the St. Lawrence River, and is accepting comments through April 25th.


Tell the EPA you support the ban and agree that the New York portion of the St. Lawrence River should be designated a “No Discharge Zone”.


Send your comments to: Moses Chang at chang.moses@epa.gov

or the following:

U.S. EPA Region 2, 290 Broadway, 24th Floor,

New York, NY 10007-1866


Sample comments:


I support the EPA’s proposed no discharge zone for the New York section of the Upper St. Lawrence River. Sewage has no place in the River.


Sewage from boats should not be dumped in the St. Lawrence River, since it can pose a risk to people’s health, and impair aquatic life and habitats.


The existing pumpout stations on the Upper St. Lawrence River are more than adequate to provide alternatives to dumping sewage from boats.


The full proposal can be viewed here: http://ow.ly/10DwbA

Watertown Daily TImes article covering this proposal can be viewed here: http://ow.ly/103Ldg

photo credit: Coley Baker

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Meadow Marsh Wetlands Disappearing on the St. Lawrence River as Governments Delay

February 2nd, 2016 | Posted by Lee

Finalized and referred to the U.S. and Canadian governments in June 2014, Plan 2014 still awaits final approval!

It is time for leadership and action. Tell Ottawa and Washington it’s time.

Voice your support for Plan 2014 for a healthy future for the River. Write, print and send a letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs Stephane Dion and Secretary of State John Kerry today.

Take Action:
Step 1: Download this template letter. Print, sign and add your address to the bottom. Or copy and paste the text into a new document to customize with your personal story.
Step 2: Mail your letter(s) to:

The Honorable Stephane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Office of the Prime Minister, 80 Wellington Street, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2. You can also email him through the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Honorable John F. Kerry, Secretary of State, US Department of State, 2201 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20520. You can also tweet him @John Kerry

Step 3: Tell us how you took action on Facebook and Twitter, and share this link with your friends so they can support Plan 2014 too!


For over 50 years, the levels of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River have been regulated by the Moses Saunders Dam, whose operating plan was developed with pre-computer technology. Plan 2014 uses modern simulations to adjust the dam’s operating plan to work with nature. If adopted, the new plan will restore 64,000 acres of wetlands, boost hydropower production and increase the resilience of hundreds of miles of shoreline in the U.S. and Canada.

Plan 2014 is also a net economic winner, providing millions annually in increased economic benefits for the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River region as well as increased hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing opportunities worth as much as $9.1 million annually to New York’s economy.

For more information visit: http://www.savetheriver.org/ index.cfm?page=app.programsLevels.


Sample Letter


Re: Lake Ontario St. Lawrence River Plan 2014

Dear___________,

I write to express strong support for Lake Ontario St. Lawrence River Plan 2014, which was developed with input from hundreds of experts and thousands of citizens. I support Plan 2014 because of its ability to restore and protect one of the US and Canada’s most precious freshwater resources – Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

Plan 2014 is a once-in-a-generation chance to restore a critical freshwater resource. Plan 2014 will help protect against extreme water levels, restore tens of thousands of acres of wetlands, boost hydropower production and increase the resilience of hundreds of miles of shoreline in the U.S. and Canada.

Thriving wetland habitats support highly valued recreational opportunities, filter polluted run­off, and provide nurseries for fisheries and wildlife. Ecosystem health was not considered in the 1950s when decisions were made to artificially compress the natural variability of levels of Lake Ontario. Wetland habitats and key species of fish, birds and mammals have suffered. Plan 2014 will begin to reverse that damage.

We urge approval of Plan 2014 – as it was referred by the IJC – as soon as possible. If such an opportunity is lost due to delayed implementation of Plan 2014, the next opportunity may not arise for decades.

Sincerely,


Thank you for your support!

Please contact our office at 315-686-2010 or info@savetheriver.org if you have any questions.

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Happy Birthday Haas!

August 18th, 2015 | Posted by Lee

Haas Cover

Happy Birthday Haas!
One year ago Save The River published Juliane Flora’s children’s book Haas the Great Blue Heron: The Beginning of an Adventure and since then over 400 copies have been purchased and an exciting curriculum has been created.
Students throughout the North Country are enjoying their connection with the great blue heron and the River by reading Haas the Great Blue Heron and participating in Save The River’s In the Schools program.
Thanks to all who have supported Save The River’s education program with their purchase. Haas the Great Blue Heron is available at www.amazon.com and at Save The River.
Let us know what you think! We welcome your comments by writing a Customer Review on Amazon at http://ow.One year ago Save The River published Juliane Flora’s children’s book Haas the Great Blue Heron: The Beginning of an Adventure and since then over 400 copies have been purchased and an exciting curriculum has been created.

One year ago Save The River published Juliane Flora’s children’s book Haas the Great Blue Heron: The Beginning of an Adventure and since then over 400 copies have been purchased and an exciting curriculum has been created.

Students throughout the North Country are enjoying their connection with the great blue heron and the River by reading Haas the Great Blue Heron and participating in Save The River’s In the Schools program.

Thanks to all who have supported Save The River’s education program with their purchase. Haas the Great Blue Heron is available at Amazon.com and at Save The River.

Let us know what you think! We welcome your comments by writing a Customer Review on Amazon

And if you buy a copy (or more) the proceeds go to benefit Save The River.

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