WXXI AM News

Lake Ontario

They'll be biting on Lake Ontario this season, DEC says

Mar 8, 2019
International Joint Commission/Joe Nohner

Fishing is good on Lake Ontario — and it might be even better this year, according to a state Department of Environmental Conservation briefing on the "State of Lake Ontario" held Thursday night in Lockport, Niagara County.

DEC fisheries experts were at the Cooperative Extension complex to talk with dozens of anglers about last year's fishing season on the lake and what to look forward to as the weather warms up.

Monroe County’s waste water treatment plant is getting $28 million in upgrades and improvements, partially in response to several years of violations with state and federal environmental standards.

Ever since the Frank Van Lare water treatment plant underwent extensive upgrades from 2011 to 2015, it has had a series of violations for discharging too much sewage waste into Lake Ontario.

The original upgrades were intended to make the plant more energy efficient, but Director of Environmental Services Mike Garland says they noticed problems almost immediately.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

A board that helps oversee the level of Lake Ontario says that while water levels across the lake and the St. Lawrence River have begun their typical spring rise, conditions are a lot better than they were a year ago. There were months of very high lake levels and shoreline damage in 2017.

Tom Brown is a member of the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board.  He says Lake Ontario is about 16 inches lower than it was at this time last year, although the lake level is about 8 inches higher than its long term average.

Water is being let out of Lake Ontario at record rates, but it’s doing little to relieve high water on the south shore, in New York. Last year, flooding caused millions of dollars in damage to residences and businesses, and in some areas drove people from their homes for months.

One neighborhood in Hamlin, New York, was hit particularly hard. Now, residents there say they fear another harsh flood season.

Veronica Volk / Great Lakes Today

In the Great Lakes region, toxic algae blooms are a big problem. Every summer, they leave a green sheen on parts of the Great Lakes – and on many smaller lakes. New York State has a new campaign to find solutions. But some question the approach.

In his lab at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, Greg Boyer stands beside his mass spectrometer. This machine is analyzing the chemical makeup of algae samples, specifically, those that produce deadly toxins.

Kellie Thomas / FEMA

Monroe County, along with Cayuga County, has been added to the Lake Ontario Disaster Declaration by FEMA. The amendment to the declaration will allow Monroe County to receive Public Assistance Grant Funding for repairs from the Lake Ontario Flooding that occurred over the summer.

The original disaster declaration didn’t include Monroe County; Governor Andrew Cuomo appealed the decision, ultimately leading to FEMA adding Monroe and Cayuga Counties.

It may seem unusual to have conversations about preserving our water bodies after major weather events like hurricanes or the flooding on the Lake Ontario shoreline, but excessive runoff is a major source of pollution. It’s a problem in our area — one that the H2O Hero initiative hopes to combat.

The program is celebrating its tenth anniversary, and this hour, we talk to the team behind it about its progress. Have the goals changed as a result of weather events? How do we prepare for future issues? And what can we do, on an individual level, to protect Lake Ontario and the Genesee River? Our guests help us understand the science and the mission. In studio:

  • Todd Butler, president and CEO of Causewave Community Partners
  • Dan Menelly, president and chief science officer for the Rochester Museum and Science Center
  • Paul Sawkyo, coordinator for the Water Education Collaborative (WEC)

  • Caroline Kilmer, WBE-certified stormwater consultant, and chair of the Water Education Collaborative (WEC)

WATCH: Lake Ontario Flooding

May 20, 2017

Historically high water levels are still afflicting the shores of Lake Ontario. And change likely won’t come until early June - that’s when lake levels are expected to crest. The flooding has affected hundreds of properties since March. Veronica Volk is the Great Lakes Today reporter and producer for WXXI News. She has been tracking this story for the past two months and she joins this edition of Need to Know to explain what’s going on and what’s to come.

What's causing the rising lake levels? How much of the criticism is political; how much is fair? We look at Plan 2014, and we explore what's really going on. Our guests:

  • Veronica Volk, reporter and producer for Great Lakes Today
  • Dr. Karen Berger, lecturer in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Rochester
  • Dr. Frank Sciremammano Jr., member of the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board
  • Frank Bevacqua, public information officer for the International Joint Commission

Veronica Volk / WXXI

Restoration of Braddock Bay is still underway, but officials and developers are already looking forward to the construction of a new marina.

The Braddock Bay Restoration project is broken down into three phases. Phase one was completed in March, with over 300 acres of wetlands restored. Currently, the project is in its second phase, with ongoing construction to dredge the boating channel and build a barrier beach.

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