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You Can Help Prevent The Spread Of Invasive Species

February 25th, 2016 | Posted by admin

Save The River’s Riverkeeper Volunteer Program trains volunteers to be our eyes and ears out on the River, by teaching the basics on assessing River health and identifying potential pollution problems.

For more information contact us at info@savetheriver.org or 315-686-2010.

2016 Riverkeeper

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Formidable invasive species won’t be easy to keep out of Great Lakes

February 24th, 2016 | Posted by admin

Invasive species are huge threat to the ecosystems along the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes. Save The River’s Clean-Up the Ballast Campaign is focused on stopping aquatic invasive species introductions by tackling the primary source – ship ballast tanks.

Formidable invasive species won’t be easy to keep out of Great Lakes by Dan Egan is a great article showcasing the threats and damage caused by aquatic invasive species and how these pesky species enter our waterways. Below is an excerpt from the article. Click here to view the full story.

Haphazard’ hunts for fresh invasions

The pace of invasive species being discovered in the Great Lakes peaked about a decade ago, when a new invader was detected, on average, more than once a year.

To stanch the onslaught, starting in 2008 all Great Lakes-bound overseas vessels were required to flush their ballast tanks in mid-ocean to expel any ballast dwelling organisms, or kill them with a blast of saltwater. No new invader has been detected in the lakes since — a point shipping industry advocates are quick to tout.

Research shows that a saltwater ballast flush can go a long way in killing most freshwater tank dwellers. But most biologists don’t think that’s enough because even if flushing ballast tanks with saltwater eliminates 98 or even more than 99% of certain classes of hitchhikers, boats arriving from ports around the globe are far from sterile.

One Great Lakes-bound freighter can carry enough ballast to fill 10 Olympic-size swimming pools. These tanks can hold not only water but also swamps of sediment that can be teeming with all manner of organisms in all different life stages, from fish eggs to microscopic zooplankton to dormant cysts that evolved over millions of years to survive most anything nature can toss at them.

A 2011 federal report looking at the threat of ballast water to all U.S. ports noted that a study conducted in Australia revealed that sediments from just one freighter ballast tank can harbor up to 300 million viable cysts of primitive dinoflagellates, which scientists dub the “cells from hell” because they can produce a deadly neurotoxin. So a flush that eliminates 99% of this ballast tank’s inhabitants could still carry 3 million potential invaders

That’s just one ballast tank, and that’s just one species.

UWM’s Strickler says there are plenty of freshwater organisms that will indeed wither when hit with a blast of saltwater.

But he considers these species pushovers. He works with animals that, depending on their life stage, can withstand everything from water fresh enough to drink to brews far brinier than the ocean.

“Most of my animals can survive salinity,” Strickler says with a wry smile as he slowly closes his eyes, “they just go to sleep.”

Most biologists, meanwhile, believe it is naïve to think the ballast problem has been solved simply because it’s been several years since a new lake invader has been detected. Sleeper colonies can lurk for years — even decades — before their numbers grow big enough to get noticed. Great Lakes species discoveries also tend to be utterly accidental — a fisherman hauls up a strange cluster of slimy critters coating his nets; students doing a routine survey of a lake bottom stumble upon something their professor doesn’t recognize.


Ballast Image

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Oil Shipments, Winter Navigation, Seaway Expansion – Oh My!

February 23rd, 2016 | Posted by admin

NEPCO 140

from today’s Watertown Daily Times story by Brian Kelly,

Revival of old idea(s) meets resistance

Some bad old ideas never seem to die. But to couple it with a new really bad idea – oil shipments on the St. Lawrence River – is no joke.

For the entire bad story click here: http://ow.ly/YEWyK

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Prevent the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species

February 23rd, 2016 | Posted by admin

stop aquatic hitchhikersImportant steps for anyone boating on the St. Lawrence River (and not just during Invasive Species Awareness Week).

Information on how to Prevent the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species

Boats, trailers, waders and other fishing and boating equipment can spread aquatic invasive species from waterbody to waterbody unless properly cleaned, dried or disinfected after use. Although some invasive species such as water milfoil are readily visible to the human eye, many others are too small to be readily noticed. To avoid spreading invasive species please follow the guidelines in the following steps:

Check
Clean
Drain
Dry
Disinfect

Details here: http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/48221.html

For more information on the Clean, Drain, Dry Campaign visit: http://www.wildlifeforever.org/invasive-species

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Protecting Our North Country Wonders from Ecological Predators

February 22nd, 2016 | Posted by admin

In our observance of National Invasive Species Week we are pleased to share this presentation from Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. We recently worked together on an Invasive Species Summit with the congresswoman and other stakeholders across our region aiming to stop the spread of invasive species and mitigate the damage already done.

From Congresswoman Elise Stefanik: Protecting Our North Country Wonders from Ecological Predators

From Lake George, to the St. Lawrence Seaway, to the pristine waters of Lake Champlain, and all of the beautiful mountains and maple trees that run between — our district is home to many ecological treasures.

Sadly, many of these natural wonders have fallen under siege to invasive species that threaten the health and beauty of our natural habitats. When our natural habitats become overrun by species that are not native to these areas, they can damage the environment, pose health risks and even hurt our local economy.

Our environment is our lifeblood in Upstate New York, and we must protect it from these predators to help boost our economy and to ensure we protect our environment for future generations.

This is why, on February 5th, I was proud to join with stakeholders who have been working tirelessly on this issue across our district and across New York State at an Invasive Species Summit in Clayton. Attendees included — Save the RiverThe Fund for Lake George, and representatives from our local and state government as well as officials from the Canadian government, who have been working tirelessly to stop the spread of invasive species and mitigate the damage already done.

Together we explored best practices and information sharing, as well as ideas for working on innovative new solutions to stop this epidemic.

One of the most important things we can do as a community is work together to ensure that our friends and neighbors have the information needed to identify these invasive predators. With this in mind, I wanted to share three common invasive species that threaten our North Country habitats.

invasives map

Map courtesy of the USDA Forest Service

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It’s National Invasive Species Awareness Week

February 21st, 2016 | Posted by Lee

Something We on the River Know Too Much About

National Invasive Species Awareness Week is this week, February 21st-27th. Non-native plants, animals and pathogens harm humans and the environment and cause significant negative impact to our nation and the River region’s economy.

Invasive species have always been a threat to the River. To-date 186 invasive species have been documented in the Great Lakes and River.  Almost 60 aquaticAsian Carp invasive species have been introduced by way of ballast water since opening the Lakes and River to ocean-going ships. The resulting harm to indigenous species has cost many millions of dollars in control and mitigation efforts.

Even with increased regulations commercial shipping still poses a threat and opens the door for new invasive species to enter the River. And relatively new research has produced a list of ten species of eastern European fishes that are at high-risk of invading the Great Lakes and causing significant harm if they are successful even with strict enforcement of saltwater flushes of the ballast of ocean-going ships.

The threat of Asian Carp has been an imminent danger to the Great Lakes and River. Other threats include the live trade of exotic plants and animals and the transport of recreational boats and equipment from one waterbody to another without proper cleaning – an all too common practice that poses a threat to all waters when owners use their boats in different locations.

Last year New York State took a step forward to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and to protect our waters. Now all boats and floating docks launched in New York State must be clean of plant or animal matter. The intent of the new law is to prevent the spread of invasive species from one waterbody to another.

Cleaning your boat and trailer between waterbodies has long been a best practice to stop the spread of invasives. We hope that the state will follow up with extensive public outreach and education. Voluntary compliance is always preferable to enforcement.

The Department of Environmental Conservation is developing new regulations that will more clearly define how boaters must clean their vessels before entering the water. For a step-by-step guide on how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species visit:http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/48221.html.

For more information on DEC boating regulations visit:http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/349.html.

For more information about invasive species click here.

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St. Lawrence sewage dump: City releases test results

November 19th, 2015 | Posted by admin

From the CBC News Montreal:

St. Lawrence sewage dump: City releases test results
Fecal bacteria far above average concentrations, resemble numbers seen during heavy rains

The big spike on Nov. 12 was registered by a station close to one of the pipes that spewed the raw sewage, near LaSalle Boulevard and Stephens Street in Verdun. . . The reading that day was 2.7 million coliform units per 100 mL of river water.

While well upstream from Montreal, it is still useful to note that in New York State a fecal coliform level of 1000 units per 100 mL in the St. Lawrence River (or any freshwater body) can lead to the closure of beaches to swimming.

Making the comparison of the deliberate dumping of sewage to a rainy day is very concerning.

Looking Beyond Montreal:

Despite the obvious problems with Montreal’s actions, there is another important story to tell. Montreal’s planned, undiluted dump is an egregious case of sewage pollution – but this is by no means a problem limited to Montreal.

According to the Alliance for the Great Lakes, more than 24 billion gallons of combined untreated sewage and stormwater is dumped into the Great Lakes each year, and the Environmental Protection Agency reports 772 cities across the U.S. have combined sewage and stormwater systems, which release untreated sewage into surface water in wet conditions.

What you can do:

Make sure your elected leaders know that you prioritize modernizing wastewater infrastructure…

Educate yourself…

Become an advocate for freshwater, become a member of Save The River. Your volunteer effort and membership contribution enables Save The River to continue to protect and fight for clean water in the St Lawrence.

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Update: Montreal Sewage dump will start at midnight tonight

November 10th, 2015 | Posted by Lee

We have just heard that Montreal will start dumping raw sewage tonight, which is outrageous. It’s really hard to believe the City was able to meet the conditions imposed by Environment Canada so quickly. That is the fatal flaw in self-reporting as opposed to the prudent exercise of federal oversight.

Save The River encourages citizens to contact the mayor with opposition.

Addresses to direct sentiments to Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre:
email:
http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/portal/page…

twitter:
@Denis Coderre with hashtag ‪#‎NotASewer‬ or ‪#‎flushgate‬

http://ow.ly/Uu5HV

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City of Montreal allowed to dump raw sewage

November 10th, 2015 | Posted by Lee

Conditions imposed not protective of environment

Canada’s Federal government has given the go ahead to the City of Montreal to dump billions of gallons of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River. This decision is the latest in a series of poor planning choices that will end with major pollution of the St. Lawrence River, and makes it clear that we must set a better course for the future.

“We are, of course, disappointed that the dumping of raw sewage will be allowed.” said Lee Willbanks, Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and executive director of Save The River, “It should always be the goal of every responsible government to prevent the deliberate fouling of our freshwater. The City placed itself and the new federal government in a difficult position by failing to plan as carefully for the handling of 8 billion litres (2.1 billion gallons) of sewage as it planned for the streetscape above.”

Sewer drainsFrom the beginning, Save The River has supported the citizens who have spoken out against this plan. With them we have demanded a better solution – not because we are downstream, but because in issues of freshwater, we are all connected. And while Environment Canada has imposed conditions for the release, these conditions do nothing to diminish the effects of the discharge. At best they allow the City to monitor itself and catalog the issues it finds.

“We do applaud the recognition that the perspective and concerns of indigenous people are frequently disregarded in government decision making. But with respect to everyone’s need for freshwater, the final condition falls far short.” Willbanks continued, “The way to ensure respectful relations with all groups interested in clean freshwater is to commit to building and maintaining the infrastructure necessary to keep it clean.”

Today we recognize that it’s not just the citizens of Montreal, but of all municipalities that still utilize this type of 19th century solution to wastewater treatment that need their governments to do better. Unfortunately there are many.

According to the Alliance for the Great Lakes, more than 24 billion gallons of combined untreated sewage and stormwater is dumped into the Great Lakes each year, and the Environmental Protection Agency reports 772 cities across the U.S. have combined sewage and stormwater systems, which release untreated sewage into surface water in wet conditions.

“The only way out of this mess is to have citizens come together and prioritize the unglamorous and expensive work of upgrading our aging sewage systems, and demand that their elected officials at all levels of government do the same.” said Willbanks. “We must do better to protect our precious freshwater and assure swimmable, drinkable, fishable water for generations to come.”

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Ban crude oil transit

October 1st, 2015 | Posted by admin

Save The River has been fighting to protect the vulnerable and fragile natural and human environment on the St. Lawrence River for its entire 37-year history. Recent efforts by the Seaway corporations to market the River as a highway for crude oil have caused us to increase our focus on the threat these cargoes pose to the River. What we have learned is alarming.

Although refined petroleum products are currently transported on the Great Lakes, crude oil is not. Two very different and very dangerous types of crude are poised to transit the St. Lawrence River. One, Bakken crude, is extremely volatile, even explosive as seen in numerous “bomb train” incidents in recent years. The other, tar sands oil, is heavy enough to sink in freshwater where, with current technology it is unrecoverable.

Shipping on the St. Lawrence River has long been an all-risk and no-reward proposition, and the shipment of crude oil will exponentially increase the risk to our environment, our economy and our communities.  Having suffered a major oil spill on the St. Lawrence River, we know all too well the risks involved with even traditional cargoes.  As pressure increases to bring these dangerous cargoes to the waters of the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes, we must take steps to protect our River before it’s too late.

For these reasons, Save The River enthusiastically supports the Pipeline Improvement and Preventing Spills Act, introduced in the U.S. Senate this week. If passed, it will ban the shipment of crude oil by vessel on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. The authors, Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow (MI) deserve to be commended. Their bill, in addition to banning the shipment of crude oil, requires a comprehensive, top-to-bottom review of hazardous pipelines in the region, compels an assessment of oil spill response and cleanup plans, and requires that ice cover be part of worst-case scenarios in response plans.

Once crude oil is in a ship’s hold headed for the St. Lawrence it will be too late. Now is the time to prevent the next catastrophic spill from happening. The best way to do that is to keep cargoes the Coast Guard admits it doesn’t know how to handle off the water entirely. The Pipeline Improvement and Preventing Spills Act should be supported by every member of New York’s Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River congressional delegation as a way to preserve and protect the St. Lawrence River now and for future generations.

Letter to the Editor by Lee Willbanks
Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper / Executive Director

Published by the Thousand Islands Sun on September 30th, 2015

Click here to see the print article.

Oil Collage

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