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High Water Level Cause? Answer from South Shore

April 29th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

A week ago we posted, “Nature plays the biggest role in water levels in the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system,” disputing the unfounded, but frequently made claim that the new water management plan – Plan 2014 – is to blame. Yesterday in a lengthy, well-sourced and comprehensive article the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle agreed.

The entire article, “High water on Lake Ontario: Who’s to blame?” by Steve Orr and Meaghan M. McDermott, is a must read. It puts to bed two questions that have been burning up the press, the airwaves and the inboxes of elected officials (and Save The River) for weeks.

to quote the article:

Who or what is really to blame for the high water?

This spring’s high water is an act of God. It is the consequence of heavy rainfall in March and especially in early April, when the amount of water entering Lake Ontario set a record. Similar high water has afflicted the St. Lawrence River, which carries the flow from Lake Ontario to the Atlantic Ocean.”

“So Plan 2014 is to blame then?

All the experts have disavowed any connection between high water and the regulations.”

and, from a longtime and vocal critic of Plan 2014 (as the article points out) Frank Sciremammano, “Under either the old plan or the new plan, we would be where we are now.”

As Sciremammano says, “it depends on the weather“. Therefore it is incumbent on us to leave Plan 2014 in place, balancing the many shared interests and uses of the Lake and the River, and use our resources, our ingenuity and our collective political will to realistically deal with the situation and to make certain that what we build in the future takes into account the dominant role of Nature and the reality of these dynamic water bodies and shorelines.

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It Bears Repeating – Denying Real Cause Will Not Lower Water Levels

April 27th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

We’ve posted on this before, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River are [now] running about 21” higher than average. And the anger and frustration of shoreline property owners is understandable.

What isn’t understandable is the insistence of certain public figures to blame Plan 2014 – the just implemented water management plan for the Lake and River – as the cause.

Today’s coverage of the story from news outlets on the South shore of Lake Ontario to the River region points out what we have been saying all along, Nature plays the biggest role in water levels in the Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River system. The River is fed by the outflow from Lakes Ontario and Erie, snowfall, and rainfall and runoff. And at times its outflow must be controlled due to conditions on the lower river below the Moses-Saunders Dam.

> from the The Daily News

The root of the current issues is that heavy rainfall and inflows from feeder systems such as the peaking Ottawa River were widespread on both divides of the dam.

also, “according to Arun Heer, an official with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the secretary of the International Lake Ontario St. Lawrence River Board, . . . there’s not room to outflow the water from the lake [due to the high water level below the dam.]

> from North Country Public Radio

Heavy rains on saturated soils amidst snow melt have inundated the lake, the river, and their tributaries this spring. The Ottawa River, which empties into the St. Lawrence, is flowing at record-high levels. Meanwhile, downstream near Montreal, the St. Lawrence has already flooded, triggering evacuations and boil water alerts in some communities.

meaning, as Frank Bevaqua, spokesman for the IJC, explained to NCPR, “There’s no plug that can be pulled just to drain the system. There’s an awful lot of water in the system and only so much that can be done.

As for the solution proposed by some public figures – “withdraw from Plan 2014”. That is no solution at all.

> from the Watertown Daily Times editorial page

But arguing against a plan that will restore the health of these waterways is foolish. We cannot march backward to continue practices that have damaged the ecosystem. This will help no one. . . . Plan 2014 is the most sensible approach to ensuring that Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River return to a healthier condition.

Our opinion?

The solution to this year’s, or some decades hence high water level is not a return to an outdated plan under which the same conditions have repeatedly occurred and which has led to precipitous declines in wetland habitat and species. It is instead incumbent on us to use our resources, our ingenuity and our collective political will to assist those impacted now to realistically deal with the situation and to make certain what we build in the future takes the dominant role of Nature and the reality of these dynamic water bodies and shorelines into account.

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St. Lawrence River Water Levels – Is Plan 2014 to Blame?

April 22nd, 2017 | Posted by Lee

St. Lawrence River Water Levels – Is Plan 2014 to Blame?

The St. Lawrence River is running high -about 18” higher than the average for this time of year. So is Lake Ontario. And, so are the passions of shoreline property owners impacted by the high levels, local elected officials and some journalists.

Anger, frustration and a demand for answers about why it is happening, how can it be stopped and what will prevent it from happening in the future are understandable reactions to homes and property being threatened.

Unfortunately, in the case of this Spring’s high water the blame is being misplaced and the solution being sought is no solution at all.

Is the new water management plan – Plan 2014 – the reason the water is high?

No – the Lake and River would be at similar levels whether Plan 2014 was implemented or not.

Is Plan 2014 the reason water isn’t being let through the dam to lower the Lake and River?

No – the Board of Control is doing all they can to fairly balance and minimize flooding on both Lake Ontario and on the River at Lake St. Louis (at Montreal). They have made numerous flow adjustments in recent days to keep this balance. Adding to the challenge is the fact that Ottawa River outflows have recently been at record high values.

Why are water levels higher than in previous years?

It is important to remember that neither the River or the Lake are isolated bodies of water, they are part of a large, complex system. A system that holds 40% of North America’s freshwater.

Nature plays the biggest role in water levels in the Lake Ontario- St. Lawrence River system. The River is fed by the outflow from Lakes Ontario and Erie, snowfall, and rainfall and runoff. And at times its outflow must be controlled due to conditions on the lower river below the Moses-Saunders Dam.

It is also important to remember that there have been several periods of higher water in the past under the previous plan – Plan 1958DD.

The water in the St Lawrence is higher than last year because the supply of water flowing into it has been greater. And the water it has received has had to be held back at times because the river below the dam has experienced flooding and evacuations.

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

“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.” [1]

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.

Even if Plan 2014 isn’t responsible for this year’s high water, why was a new plan needed?

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.

The new plan – Plan 2014 – was implemented this past January after years of study, input from communities and individuals all around the Lake and River, 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, 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.

Click here for more information on Plan 2014

Click here for a video on how the Moses-Saunders dam influences water levels

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

 

[1] http://ijc.org/greatlakesconnection/en/2017/04/lake-ontario-st-lawrence-river-levels-rise-following-april-rains/

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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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Beach Watch Weekly Report: Week 9

August 31st, 2016 | Posted by Kate

Save The River Reports on Week 9 of Beach Watch Program

Clayton, NY (August 31, 2016) – Save The River’s Beach Watch Program is in the process of monitoring popular summer swimming locations on the River from July 5th through August 29th on a weekly basis.  Save The River reports all samples collected on August 29th, 2016 have passed.

For the 2016 sampling season Save The River volunteers are collecting water quality samples at six swimming areas along the River: Wilson’s Beach in Cape Vincent, Potter’s Beach on Grindstone Island, Frink Dock in Clayton, Round Island in Clayton, Lake of the Isles on Wellesley Island, and Scenic View Park in Alexandria Bay. Save The River’s unique program provides a glimpse of the water quality at popular swimming areas during the peak recreational swimming season.

Location Pass/Fail Parts per 100mL
Frink Park    PASS 1.0
Lake of the Isles    PASS 1.0
Potter’s Beach    PASS 10.9
Round Island      n/a n/a
Scenic View Beach    PASS 1.0
Wilson’s Beach 3 ft    PASS 1.0
Wilson’s Beach 6ft    PASS 2.0

Results are expressed in numbers of bacteria colonies found in 100 milliliter (mL) sample of swimming water.  The NY State Department of Health has set a swimming quality limit of 235 colonies of E. coli bacteria per 100 mL of water.

As in previous years, Save The River will be testing for E. coli bacteria in all of its swimming locations and will compare water quality results with state and federal regulations. Save The River will make the results available to the public each week with a pass/fail system at the organization’s office, online and by following Save The River on Facebook and Twitter. Results will also be posted on www.swimguide.org and in the T.I. Sun.

To sign up for weekly Beach Watch updates or for more information about the program please contact the Save The River office at (315)-686-2010 or visit www.savetheriver.org.

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Beach Watch Weekly Report: Week 8 Results

August 24th, 2016 | Posted by Kate

Save The River Reports on Week 8 of Beach Watch Program

Clayton, NY (August 24, 2016) – Save The River’s Beach Watch Program is in the process of monitoring popular summer swimming locations on the River from July 5th through August 29th on a weekly basis.  Save The River reports all samples collected on August 22nd, 2016 have passed.

For the 2016 sampling season Save The River volunteers are collecting water quality samples at six swimming areas along the River: Wilson’s Beach in Cape Vincent, Potter’s Beach on Grindstone Island, Frink Dock in Clayton, Round Island in Clayton, Lake of the Isles on Wellesley Island, and Scenic View Park in Alexandria Bay. Save The River’s unique program provides a glimpse of the water quality at popular swimming areas during the peak recreational swimming season.

Location Pass/Fail Parts per 100mL
Frink Park    PASS 2.0
Lake of the Isles    PASS 3.1
Potter’s Beach    PASS 11.0
Round Island      n/a n/a
Scenic View Beach    PASS 1.0
Wilson’s Beach 3 ft    PASS 2.0
Wilson’s Beach 6ft    PASS 1.0

Results are expressed in numbers of bacteria colonies found in 100 milliliter (mL) sample of swimming water.  The NY State Department of Health has set a swimming quality limit of 235 colonies of E. coli bacteria per 100 mL of water.

As in previous years, Save The River will be testing for E. coli bacteria in all of its swimming locations and will compare water quality results with state and federal regulations. Save The River will make the results available to the public each week with a pass/fail system at the organization’s office, online and by following Save The River on Facebook and Twitter. Results will also be posted on www.swimguide.org and in the T.I. Sun.

To sign up for weekly Beach Watch updates or for more information about the program please contact the Save The River office at (315)-686-2010 or visit www.savetheriver.org.

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2016 Beach Watch: Week 7 Results

August 18th, 2016 | Posted by Kate

Save The River Reports on Week 7 of Beach Watch Program

Clayton, NY (August 18, 2016) – Save The River’s Beach Watch Program is in the process of monitoring popular summer swimming locations on the River from July 5th through August 29th on a weekly basis.  Save The River reports all samples collected on August 15, 2016 have passed.

For the 2016 sampling season Save The River volunteers are collecting water quality samples at six swimming areas along the River: Wilson’s Beach in Cape Vincent, Potter’s Beach on Grindstone Island, Frink Dock in Clayton, Round Island in Clayton, Lake of the Isles on Wellesley Island, and Scenic View Park in Alexandria Bay. Save The River’s unique program provides a glimpse of the water quality at popular swimming areas during the peak recreational swimming season.

Location Pass/Fail Parts per 100mL
Frink Park    PASS < 1.0
Lake of the Isles    PASS < 1.0
Potter’s Beach    PASS 3.1
Round Island      n/a n/a
Scenic View Beach    PASS 1.0
Wilson’s Beach 3 ft    PASS < 1.0
Wilson’s Beach 6ft    PASS 1.0

 

Results are expressed in numbers of bacteria colonies found in 100 milliliter (mL) sample of swimming water.  The NY State Department of Health has set a swimming quality limit of 235 colonies of E. coli bacteria per 100 mL of water.

As in previous years, Save The River will be testing for E. coli bacteria in all of its swimming locations and will compare water quality results with state and federal regulations. Save The River will make the results available to the public each week with a pass/fail system at the organization’s office, online and by following Save The River on Facebook and Twitter. Results will also be posted on www.swimguide.org and in the T.I. Sun.

To sign up for weekly Beach Watch updates or for more information about the program please contact the Save The River office at (315)-686-2010 or visit www.savetheriver.org.

 

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2016 Beach Watch: Week 6 Results

August 11th, 2016 | Posted by Kate

Save The River Reports on Week 6 of Beach Watch Program

Save The River’s Beach Watch Program is in the process of monitoring popular summer swimming locations on the River from July 5th through August 29th on a weekly basis.  Save The River reports all samples collected on August 8, 2016 passed.

For the 2016 sampling season Save The River volunteers are collecting water quality samples at six swimming areas along the River: Wilson’s Beach in Cape Vincent, Potter’s Beach on Grindstone Island, Frink Dock in Clayton, Round Island in Clayton, Lake of the Isles on Wellesley Island, and Scenic View Park in Alexandria Bay. Save The River’s unique program provides a glimpse of the water quality at popular swimming areas during the peak recreational swimming season.

Location Pass/Fail Parts per 100mL
Frink Park PASS <1.0
Lake of the Isles PASS <1.0
Potter’s Beach PASS 47.3
Round Island PASS 7.4
Scenic View Beach PASS 25.0
Wilson’s Beach 3 ft PASS 5.2
Wilson’s Beach 6ft PASS 1.0

Results are expressed in numbers of bacteria colonies found in 100 milliliter (mL) sample of swimming water.  The NY State Department of Health has set a swimming quality limit of 235 colonies of E. coli bacteria per 100 mL of water.

As in previous years, Save The River will be testing for E. coli bacteria in all of its swimming locations and will compare water quality results with state and federal regulations. Save The River will make the results available to the public each week with a pass/fail system at the organization’s office, online and by following Save The River on Facebook and Twitter. Results will also be posted on www.swimguide.org and in the T.I. Sun.

To sign up for weekly Beach Watch updates or for more information about the program please contact the Save The River office at (315)-686-2010 or visit www.savetheriver.org.

 

Frink Park located in Clayton is one of the popular swim areas on the River.

Frink Park located in Clayton is one of the popular swim areas on the River. Photo Credit: Ally Aiken

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2016 Beach Watch: Week 5 Results

August 4th, 2016 | Posted by Kate

Save The River Reports on Week 5 of Beach Watch Program

Save The River’s Beach Watch Program is in the process of monitoring popular summer swimming locations on the River from July 5th through August 29th on a weekly basis.  Save The River reports all samples collected on August 1, 2016 passed.

For the 2016 sampling season Save The River volunteers are collecting water quality samples at six swimming areas along the River: Wilson’s Beach in Cape Vincent, Potter’s Beach on Grindstone Island, Frink Dock in Clayton, Round Island in Clayton, Lake of the Isles on Wellesley Island, and Scenic View Park in Alexandria Bay. Save The River’s unique program provides a glimpse of the water quality at popular swimming areas during the peak recreational swimming season.

Location Pass/Fail Parts per 100mL
Frink Park PASS <1.0
Lake of the Isles PASS 2.0
Potter’s Beach PASS 1.0
Round Island PASS 4.1
Scenic View Beach PASS 2.0
Wilson’s Beach 3 ft PASS 2.0
Wilson’s Beach 6ft PASS 2.0

Results are expressed in numbers of bacteria colonies found in 100 milliliter (mL) sample of swimming water.  The NY State Department of Health has set a swimming quality limit of 235 colonies of E. coli bacteria per 100 mL of water.

As in previous years, Save The River will be testing for E. coli bacteria in all of its swimming locations and will compare water quality results with state and federal regulations. Save The River will make the results available to the public each week with a pass/fail system at the organization’s office, online and by following Save The River on Facebook and Twitter. Results will also be posted on www.swimguide.org and in the T.I. Sun.

To sign up for weekly Beach Watch updates or for more information about the program please contact the Save The River office at (315)-686-2010 or visit www.savetheriver.org.

 

Photo Caption: Save The River volunteer, Maria Purcell, collects a water sample from Potter’s Beach located on Grindstone Island, on August 1, 2016. Photo Credit: Mark Prucell

Save The River volunteer, Maria Purcell, collects a water sample from Potter’s Beach located on Grindstone Island, on August 1, 2016.
Photo Credit: Mark Prucell

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2016 Beach Watch: Week 4 Results

July 28th, 2016 | Posted by Kate

Save The River Reports on Week 4 of Beach Watch Program

Save The River’s Beach Watch Program is in the process of monitoring popular summer swimming locations on the River from July 5th through August 29th on a weekly basis.  Save The River reports all samples collected on July 25, 2016 passed.

For the 2016 sampling season Save The River volunteers are collecting water quality samples at six swimming areas along the River: Wilson’s Beach in Cape Vincent, Potter’s Beach on Grindstone Island, Frink Dock in Clayton, Round Island in Clayton, Lake of the Isles on Wellesley Island, and Scenic View Park in Alexandria Bay. Save The River’s unique program provides a glimpse of the water quality at popular swimming areas during the peak recreational swimming season.

Location Pass/Fail Parts per 100mL
Frink Park PASS <1.0
Lake of the Isles PASS <1.0
Potter’s Beach PASS 14.6
Round Island NO SAMPLE NO SAMPLE
Scenic View Beach PASS 7.4
Wilson’s Beach 3 ft PASS 1.0
Wilson’s Beach 6ft PASS 1.0

 

Results are expressed in numbers of bacteria colonies found in 100 milliliter (mL) sample of swimming water.  The NY State Department of Health has set a swimming quality limit of 235 colonies of E. coli bacteria per 100 mL of water.

As in previous years, Save The River will be testing for E. coli bacteria in all of its swimming locations and will compare water quality results with state and federal regulations. Save The River will make the results available to the public each week with a pass/fail system at the organization’s office, online and by following Save The River on Facebook and Twitter. Results will also be posted on www.swimguide.org and in the T.I. Sun.

To sign up for weekly Beach Watch updates or for more information about the program please contact the Save The River office at (315)-686-2010 or visit www.savetheriver.org.

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