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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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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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It’s a big River we all share, . . .

July 15th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

. . . and we at Save The River love our part of it.

Join us however you can in our work to preserve, protect and restore the St. Lawrence River, . . . now and for generations to come.

click the image for a larger version

https://donate.savetheriver.org/
#itsourriver #stlawrenceriver

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No Wake Zone within 600 feet of Lake Ontario or St. Lawrence River shorelines!

July 2nd, 2017 | Posted by Lee

Use Caution! Be Respectful!

Boat around others’ docks, boathouses, and property like you want them to boat around your’s.

Please share this widely.

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Scientists tell Oswego paper, “Plan 2014 not to blame for Lake Ontario flooding”

June 30th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

In another well-researched and well-sourced story, this one in today’s Palladium-Times by reporter Seth Wallace, the paper asked “nearly a dozen experts on geology, biology, meteorology, other earth sciences and international law”,

Did Plan 2014 cause the flooding?

The answer,

Without exception the answer came back the same: No, Plan 2014 did not cause the flooding.

The article also sheds new light on the strength of claims being made by some of the state’s elected officials that Plan 2014 is to blame for this year’s high water.

“The Palladium-Times made multiple requests this week to both [Rep.] Katko and Tenney’s offices to provide any data they had received from any expert that showed evidence of Plan 2014 as the cause of the flooding.

Both offices were either unwilling or unable to produce such evidence.”

As we have said all spring, the solution to this year’s high water is not a return to a plan under which the same conditions have repeatedly occurred. Instead we need to use our resources and political will to assist those impacted now and ensure what we build takes Nature’s role and the reality of dynamic water bodies and shorelines into account.

The full article is worth a read.

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High Water! Rochester Democrat & Chronicle Says ‘Stop the blame game’

June 27th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

It is time to stop playing the blame game“, so says the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle editorial board in a June 24th editorial, referencing an article exhaustively examining the causes of this year’s high water published the same day.

As they have done all spring, with water levels, tempers and frustrations rising, authors Steve Orr and Meaghan M. McDermott drilled into the issue of why the water is high and who, if anyone, is to blame.

For the article,”High winds, high water, lots of hot air: Facts and fiction about Lake Ontario’s Plan 2014“, they went behind the angry statements being made by south shore residents and elected officials, and Governor Cuomo accusing the International Joint Commission (IJC) of everything from incompetence to outright malfeasance.

Summing up their research:

“Cut off one head of the ever-shifting explanations for why the waters are seeping into yards, gouging away the shoreline and smashing the boulders designed to hold the lake back, and two more wild theories spout. . . .

In fact, three months after high water on the lake first began to bedevil property owners, there is no proof whatsoever that the fault lies anywhere other than with nature.”

Based on the article, the editorial board concludes,

“Rather than continuing this futile exercise [blaming the IJC], leaders should be joining lakeshore residents in exploring ways to better protect coastal property in the years to come, while respecting the rights of others who are affected by the rise and fall of this Great Lake.”

To which we at Save The River would only add “and this great River, the St. Lawrence.”

In fact, in an April letter published in many papers around the state, we said as much. “The solution to this year’s high water is not a return to a plan under which the same conditions have repeatedly occurred. Instead we need to use our resources and political will to assist those impacted now and ensure what we build takes Nature’s role and the reality of dynamic water bodies and shorelines into account.”

The full article, “High winds, high water, lots of hot air:Facts and fiction about Lake Ontario’s Plan 2014” is worth a close read.

The editorial, “Stop blaming the International Joint Commission” is also worth a full read.

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