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Water levels slightly lower than this time last year.

March 28th, 2018 | Posted by Lee

Water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River are currently slightly lower than they were at this time last year.

Last year the Lake and River went on to set record highs in May, June and July due to a succession of unprecedented, intense rainfall events throughout their watersheds. This lead many property owners and politicians to intensely criticize the newly enacted Plan 2014 and the International Joint Commission (IJC) for not doing more to alleviate the problems high water caused.

In contrast, at this time in 2012 the levels were higher, higher even than last year, but as the region experienced an unusually dry spring and summer, levels on the Lake and River went down and stayed lower than average for the rest of the year. This lead many property owners and politicians to intensely criticize the (IJC) for not doing more to alleviate the problems low water caused.

What was missed by the critics in 2017 and 2012 and in every extreme water level year (high or low) since 1958 is the fact that no management plan will give us the tools to fine tune the levels of waterbodies as vast a Great Lake or to control the outcome of natural events – rain, snow, wind – that influence them.

The only constants across the years, other than the criticism of the water levels plan in place at that time, are the variability of the weather and the challenges of accurately predicting it long term. One other notable constant – the reminder that we need to plan carefully how we utilize the shoreline of these vast, dynamic waterbodies.

The editorial board of the Watertown Daily Times​ has a good take on the current management of Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River levels in a Sunday editorial.

The editorial board acknowledges that, while it is still too early to predict where the water level will be this summer, there is no doubt that the International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board (ILOSLRB) in . . “following the recommended practices of Plan 2014 in overseeing outflows this winter . . .have allowed for a more orderly discharge of water in a manner that ensures safety.” The ILOSLRB has done this while achieving the goal of the Plan of “Improving the health of these waterways and creating an environment more suitable to wildlife will benefit all of us.,” as the editorial points out.

On a lake and river so clearly affected by intense and highly variable weather it sounds like they are doing a difficult job well.

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Director’s Waypoints, Winter Conference Edition

February 20th, 2018 | Posted by Lee Willbanks

Go to this edition of Director’s Waypoints

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Agenda Set for Save The River’s 29th Winter Environmental Conference

January 30th, 2018 | Posted by Margaret Hummel

Saturday, February 3rd, attendees of this annual conference focused on the health of the St. Lawrence River will hear from a diverse group of speakers about a wide range of topics. Ann Ward, Save The River Board Member Emerita, will provide a welcome address reflecting on Save The River’s 40th anniversary. 

Click here for the conference agenda.

Commissioner Lana Pollack, U.S. Section Chair for the International Joint Commission (IJC), will speak about Plan 2014 after one year of extreme climate conditions.

Bill Werick, retired water resources planner and technical adviser to the IJC, will speak about the adaptive management component of Plan 2014.

David Bolduc, executive director of Green Marine, will speak about Green Marine’s environmental certification program for the maritime transportation industry. 

Henry Lickers, Ph.D., Environmental Science Officer for the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne Environment Program, and Michael Twiss, Clarkson University professor and member of the IJC Great Lakes Science Advisory Board, will provide a unique dialogue about the St. Lawrence River as habitat from native and non-native perspectives.

Lee Harper, Ph.D., president of Riveredge Environmental, Inc., and Michael Morgan, NYS DEC Project Manager, will explore the opportunities and challenges restoring and maintaining habitats for bird populations along the St. Lawrence River.

John Farrell, Ph.D., SUNY ESF professor and director of the Thousand Islands Biological Station, and Scott Schlueter, fish biologist for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and Program Manager for the Fish Enhancement, Mitigation, and Research Fund, will discuss their respective work studying fish of the St. Lawrence River along with restoration and conservation efforts being made to enhance populations.

Eric Sunday, Akwesasne Cultural Restoration Program, will close the conference with a presentation about the efforts to improve awareness and education of the community about the Sturgeon population and its cultural ties with the Mohawks of Akwesasne.

Registration for this year’s Conference closes Friday, February 2nd. To secure a place, it is best to call the Save The River office at (315) 686-2010.

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Bill Werick to Speak About Plan 2014 at Winter Environmental Conference

January 18th, 2018 | Posted by Margaret Hummel

Bill Werick, a water resources planner and technical adviser for the International Joint Commission (IJC), will speak at our 29th annual Winter Environmental Conference. Werick will speak on the adaptive management of Plan 2014.

Werick worked for the Corps of Engineers from 1969 to 2004 where he developed the Shared Vision Planning method. He was the lead U.S. planner on the IJC studies of Lake Ontario, Superior and Rainy Lake water level regulation. He worked with the World Bank in Peru and Botswana, and with the State Department in Thailand, Morocco and Israel and with the University of Campinas in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Werick helped implement adaptive management of Great Lakes water levels and is a member of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence River Adaptive Management Committee.

Other presentations will focus on the environmental improvement efforts being made by shippers, terminals and ports, the condition of the River as habitat, and the general state of fish and birds that depend on the River being healthy.  

Click here for Conference registration form or call 315-686-2010 to register. $50 registration fee includes morning coffee, lunch, and light hors d’oeuvres at the cocktail reception (cash bar).

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US Chair of IJC to Speak at Winter Environmental Conference

January 16th, 2018 | Posted by Margaret Hummel

Commissioner Lana Pollack, United States Section Chair of the International Joint Commission (IJC), will be the headline speaker at our upcoming 29th annual Winter Environmental Conference, Saturday, February 3. Commissioner Pollack will speak about a topic of intense and ongoing interest to the River community – Plan 2014 after one year of extreme climate conditions.

In the year since Plan 2014 went into effect, Commissioner Pollack has travelled the region speaking about the proper relation between the Plan, weather conditions, and this past year’s high water. She has been quoted as saying, “We’d love a perfect plan where everybody is protected, but nature has not allowed us to do that,” pointing out that the IJC is required to balance the interest of shippers, dam operators, recreational boaters, upstream and downstream residents, and the environment.

In addition to presenting, Commissioner Pollack will be accepting Save The River’s “Friend of the River™” Award on behalf of the other Commissioners and the staff and boards of the IJC for their for “unwavering support of initiatives and policies that support a healthy St. Lawrence River”.

Prior to the IJC, Commissioner Pollack served in the Michigan State Senate from 1983-1994 where she was a leading advocate for women, children and the environment. From 1996-2008 she was president of the Michigan Environmental Council, a coalition of 70 environmental organizations working to protect the Great Lakes and Michigan’s environment. Ms. Pollack has been a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, taught at the University of Michigan and an elected trustee of the Ann Arbor Board of Education. In 2002, she was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.

Other presentations will focus on the environmental improvement efforts being made by shippers, terminals and ports, the condition of the River as habitat, and the general state of fish and birds that depend on the River being healthy.

Click here for Conference registration form or call 315-686-2010 to register. $50 registration fee includes morning coffee, lunch, and light hors d’oeuvres at the cocktail reception (cash bar).

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Save The River’s 29th Annual Winter Environmental Conference

December 8th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

 

Save the date! Or, better yet, sign up and lock in your attendance now.

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The International Joint Commission assesses U.S. and Canadian efforts to improve Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River water quality:

December 4th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

‘Commendable progress. Much more to be done.’

We were pleased to see the scope of the findings and the recommendations in the IJC report, premised as they are on sound science and significant public input. We were also pleased to get to comment on the report in a recent Watertown Daily Times​ article, “IJC report talks water quality concerns on Lake Ontario” by Gordon Block published December 1, 2017.

In its first assessment on how the two countries are doing to meet the goals of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the IJC found progress on the general objectives of accelerated restoration of contaminated Areas of Concern, the development of binational habitat conservation strategies, the absence of newly introduced aquatic invasive species, and comprehensive reporting on groundwater science.

But, and we here at Save The River​ definitely agree, the IJC finds:

– insufficient progress toward achieving human health objectives;
– insufficient progress on chemicals of mutual concern that pose a threat to the health of humans, wildlife and aquatic organisms;
– more work is required to control the spread of invasive species already in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River;
– there is no basin-wide perspective, approach or strategy for addressing climate change;
– the governments have not fully incorporated robust public engagement into their activities; and
– they should reach beyond the limits & audiences typically recognized & should factor in consideration of environmental justice as a key objective.

There is a lot in the report for anyone who cares about the health of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River and the people and communities that rely on them to be swimmable, fishable and drinkable.

The full report, “First Triennial Assessment of Progress on Great Lakes Water Quality“, is worth a read.

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Save The River’s Statement to Senate Committee Hearing on Flooding

October 10th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

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Save The River Honors its Volunteers

August 11th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

2017 Volunteers & two of the Volunteers of the Year – Ron Daly (left) & Bill Taddeo (right)

On a beautiful summer day at the Bridge Authority’s Rift Camp, many of Save The River’s over 250 volunteers came together to share stories, celebrate their good work to protect the River, and to honor this year’s Volunteers of the Year – the men, women and students who have sampled the water quality at area swimming holes since 1998 – our Beach Watch Volunteers.

Save The River has many well-subscribed and robust volunteer programs – Common Tern Restoration, Riverkeeper & Jr. Riverkeeper, Shoal marking, Catch & Release, event support like Run for the River™ and others, and our many educational programs – and the volunteers for each are superstars. As we have said before, ‘Volunteers are the heart, soul and muscle of all we do to protect the St. Lawrence River.” But this year – a year with a few challenges where the water meets the shore – we chose to honor our Beach Watch volunteers.

  • This year we honor our volunteers for their long time involvement with the Beach Watch Program:
    • Jean and Ron Daly, monitoring Lake of the Isles since 2008
    • Ben Giardina, monitoring Lake of the Isles since 2015
    • Mary Mitchell, monitoring Scenic View Park since 2013
    • Maria Purcell, monitoring Potter’s Beach since 2008
    • Bill Taddeo, monitoring Wilsons Bay since 2014
    • Dick Withington, monitoring Round Island since 2007

What was true in 1998, when we introduced the program in a letter to local municipalities, is true today, when the results of our monitoring efforts are reported internationally, “Everyone loves to visit the ‘local swimming hole’ on a summer day on the River. Public dock areas, riverfront parks, and island beaches make for great swimming and sunning, digging in the sand or turning over rocks to find other River inhabitants sharing the same spot.” What we didn’t say explicitly then, but what we are all very aware of is that we all want the water we play in to be fishable, drinkable and swimmable. So we test once a week, rain or shine, for 9 weeks in the summer.

Over the years Save The River has worked in partnership with several associations including: Round Island Association, Lake of the Isles Association, the Thousand Islands Land Trust and property owners on and near Wilson’s Bay. Results are published weekly on our webpage, social media and in the Swim Guide website and app.

 

About Save The River® / Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper®

Since 1978 Save The River, a community-based membership not-for-profit organization, has been the leading environmental organization fighting for the ecological integrity of the St. Lawrence River. Its mission is to preserve, protect and restore the River now, and for generations to come. It delivers educational programs to students and adults about the River, its fragility, and the importance of protecting it. Save The River is committed to being a forceful advocate for policies and programs that promote clean water protections and to resist those that eliminate or weaken them.

Please consider volunteering and becoming a member of Save The River to support our education programs and advocacy for a healthy St. Lawrence River.

Contact us at: info@savetheriver.org, or (315) 686-2010

Join or donate at: www.donate.savetheriver.org

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Ontario Senator Bob Runciman, a true “Friend of the River”, leaves the Senate

August 9th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

We note the departure of Senator Bob Runciman from the Canadian Senate and applaud his outstanding service to the St. Lawrence River. He was an early supporter and has been a long term member of Save The River, founding the Canadian chapter. He has been a consistent champion of cross-border initiatives important to the health and sustainable use of the River.

Senator Runciman receives the Friend of the River award February 4, 2017

Earlier this year Save The River was pleased to award Senator Runciman its “Friend of the River” award for his work on major issues facing the River and the communities that depend on it being healthy. He was a vocal and influential proponent of the new water levels plan – Plan 2014 – to restore vital wetland habitat and key species to the River. He has been engaged with local, provincial, state and federal officials on both sides of the River on the issue of prevention and control of invasive species and the lessening of challenges to boaters and anglers in our multinational waters.

We take Senator Runciman at his word that he is not retiring and hope to see him frequently on the River where he has had such a positive impact over the years.

 

Save The River’s Friend of the River™ award is given to individuals or groups who have contributed in an exceptional way to protecting the St. Lawrence River either through advocacy or programs in line with Save The River’s mission and vision.

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